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For those of you who know me well, you might think I’ve lost my mind to be advocating for using chatbots on Instagram. We all know I’m “one button Jenn” and while I like to go the path of least integrations, I’m 100% onboard the chatbot train for Instagram.
With that being said, you’re going to see some totally badass reasons why you will want to consider chatbots (or messenger marketing) for Instagram. I warn you, and implore you, however, to not get carried away with this tactic. This is meant to AUGMENT what you do, not replace what you do. And just because you “can” do something, doesn’t always mean you should. Or that you should overuse that option.
As of this post’s publishing, chatbots for Instagram are in a closed beta program with only a very select few accounts having access to test it out. And, no I do not have access on my account (don’t get me started on the cynicism here! lol) but I’ve had the opportunity to at least see how the bots work and I’m working with Chatfuel and Agorapulse on a event registration campaign to test out features and results.
So, what are chatbots on Instagram?
If you’ve ever interacted with, or utilized, messenger marketing tools (aka chatbots) on a Facebook page, these bots for Instagram are essentially the same idea. BUT, there are many more limitations on Instagram right now than there are on Facebook – and there are plenty of limitations on Facebook. Side note, if you want to learn all the things about Facebook messenger marketing tools, be sure to check out Kelly Noble Mirabella and her YouTube channel which is full of information on this topic, including the dos and don’ts you need to know about what you’re allowed to do with bots. Fun fact: no, you can’t randomly message people whenever you want!
The general idea here is that the bot is an automated response tool that will send specific messages via direct messaging to a user based on the input they provide. It may be as simple as a single word or a common phrase that, when send via DM, will trigger the automated response from the bot. This can be super helpful in providing quick responses to your audience when they have a simple question or providing them with specific information based on their needs.
For example, maybe someone wants to know your business hours or address. Or maybe someone wants to check on the status of an order. Or maybe a potential customer wants a product info sheet or has questions about a specific product. You could easily have these all set up in automated responses that generate the exact answer the individual is looking for – and alleviate you or your team having to reply directly.
I’ve actually used a really fun create-your-own-adventure type bot on my Facebook page in the past. I would include a QR code on the final slide of my presentations and have the same QR code saved as a tile on my mobile phone. This way, whenever I did a presentation or spoke at a conference and someone wanted to connect with or follow up, all they had to do was scan the bot. Depending on what they chose as their option, they would get a different responses. So, they could ask for a download of my bio, or links to my social media profiles, or go to the contact form to hire me to speak, or get a direct link to my books. This way I didn’t have to put up 8 or 9 calls-to-action. Just one. And the bot would give them specifically what they needed. Now, in all fairness, I (one-button Jenn) did not build that bot 😉 My bestie, and talented bot builder, Amanda Robinson built it for me.
But you can see how it can get creative and fun depending on what it is you need out of your responses. Oh, and yes, I’ll totally be building another one of these to use on Instagram once I get access!
Why are bots valuable on Instagram?
You can likely already see some valuable ways that these chatbots are going to be helpful to you on Instagram. They’re going to save you time and help with customer service.
But, because of the way Instagram is currently built, chatbots are going to TRANSFORM how you use the platform. And, listen, I don’t say this lightly. They’re going to drastically improve your capabilities and opportunities to connect with your customers.
How? You ask… Here are just some of the ways:
LINKS. Yes, links. Look, I’m all for keeping the single link in bio because it forces brands to be creative and avoid simply link dropping in every post. It’s why the link traffic from Instagram is of such high quality. But bots are going to open up the flood gates for link sharing, while still keeping the quality of traffic relatively high.
Using the bot tool, you’ll be able to have your audience type in a keyword in a post comment and it will trigger the bot, opening up their DMs. Depending on how you build the flow, you could immediately send them the link or request their email (which you can collect through integrations) before providing the link or ask a question to confirm this is the link they want, or whatever really.
Just think about it! Now, when you say “read the blog post” or “watch the video” or “find out more” or whatever, instead of following it up with “click the link in our bio”, you’ll say “Comment ‘Blog’ below” and boom, the bot sends them the specific link to the blog post, or your blog page, or whatever you have set up. Or if you don’t have swipe up links in Stories, just include a CTA that says to DM you a certain word (which is as simple as replying to the Story post) and the same thing happens, sending them that link.
You’re getting excited right now, aren’t you? I told you it would transform how you use Instagram!
But you also need to be prepared to build and manage the chatbot flows. If you want to send a different link in every post, you’re going to need unique keywords to trigger each response and keep those updated and maintained in your chatbot management tool. So, yes, this is super cool and functional, but it’s also going to require you to do some work on the backend to keep it effective.
Build your list with: Coupon Codes, Registrations, File downloads. The options are really up to you! If you want to offer an exclusive coupon code, you can do that with a bot flow. They DM you a certain word like “promo” or “coupon” and boom, there’s the code they can use.
Want people to sign up for your newsletter, campaign, webinar, or event? You can send them directly to the registration page OR you can even build the registration steps right into the bot and have those export (with more integration tools) to your CRM or event platform. Or get people a free PDF guide or tutorial after they give you their email address. There really are so many creative ways you could use this tool to provide value to your audience, connect with them quickly, and build your list.
Social listening. One of the other super handy things is that you can set up a bot to launch anytime someone @ mentions you in a Story. Talk about not missing an opportunity! Since Stories are only available for those 24 hours, the bot can ensure that your team is responsive to those mentions. You could program the bot to respond with a thank you message or you could throw in a discount code as a thank you. Or if you were running a giveaway where you were encouraging Story posts as a condition of entry, the bot could be the automatic acknowledgement of submission which could provide them with a reminder of the giveaway terms and when the winner will be announced.
Campaign tracking. In most of these examples I’ve shared, and in many more ways, you can use the bot to manage your campaign tracking for performance. You could track the number of giveaway entries, the number of coupon code requests (versus sales conversions on the code), and email registrations or event sign ups. The bot will allow you to manage and track all those conversations so you can better determine which campaigns are most fruitful for your brand.
Amp up your ads. Yes, chatbots can integrate with your ads as well. The ad CTA could be to launch the chat and open up that automated dialog. Similar to all the organic content mentioned above, you could run ads for any of these same ideas, but have the action be the DM trigger with the bot which completes the automation and still allows you to collect an email address, get some information, provide them the item they requested, and more.
How to incorporate chatbots on Instagram?
If you’re all excited right now and want to start using chatbots, I feel you! I do too! But like I mentioned above, at the time of this posting, chatbots are still a closed beta program. I expect them to open up for more access soon but we don’t who will get access and when – stay tuned!
There are a number of tools out there with approved partner access with Facebook (and therefore Instagram) that you can look into. Personally, I’m going to be using Chatfuel as my bot brand of choice. This was a personal decision for me but they are the brand that supported me, worked with me, and all around gave me the best customer service experience when I was researching these tools (and, yes, other chatbot companies did reach out to me). If you’re already using another tool for your messenger marketing on Facebook, chances are they have the Instagram integration in works as well, and that’s great for you. But if you’re new to the world of bots and want to learn more, you can try them out for free as you get started by using my invite for you to Chatfuel.
Wanna get started? Get on the waitlist and try out the automation process!
Just DM @chatfuel with the word “Jenn” and they’ll put you on the waitlist for when automation rolls out and notify you when you’re eligible. Plus you’ll get to see how easy it is to interact with the bot 🙂