Instagram’s rolling out a much-needed update to their messaging platform, which will help businesses make better use of the app.
Up till now, messages between users and businesses have been treated the same as messages between people – if you send a message to a business that doesn’t follow you, the business won’t get an alert, as the message will appear in the ‘pending’ folder till your communication is approved.
But that’s not conducive to business interactions, so Instagram’s updating their inbox options for business pages:
“Now you'll see important new customer messages in your main Direct inbox, instead of in the pending folder. You can also star and filter your conversations to come back to messages you want to follow up on.”
The update will provide more ways for users to connect with businesses, beyond leaving comments on posts. And given that more and more people are using the platform’s direct message options (at last check, some 375 million of the platform’s 800 million total users interact via DM each month), it makes sense for Instagram to capitalize on this behavior.
Instagram also notes that more than 150 million users already conduct conversations with businesses through Instagram Direct each month – “with a third of those messages beginning with an Instagram Story”. The latter stat once again underlining the importance and growth of Instagram Stories.
In addition to this, Instagram will also add quick replies, enabling businesses to set-up templated, basic message responses to common queries.
And furthering their direct response tools, Instagram will also add in ‘Action Buttons’ for business profiles to prompt streamlined response.
“Through our action buttons, people can now ‘Reserve’, ‘Get Tickets’, ‘Start Order’ or ‘Book’ through popular, third-party partners without having to leave Instagram.”
The options are similar to Facebook’s call to action buttons for Pages, and will enable more user actions, furthering response. This, in addition to the recent expansion of the platform’s Shopping Tags, will add to the platform’s capacity to drive bottom-line results, giving businesses more motivation to build their presences on the app.
I guess, the risk is that Instagram, being owned by Facebook, could be just as likely to change the rules for brands once they start to build a reliance on the app - and the recent shake-up in The Social Network’s management team structure also suggests that we’re going to see more Facebook-like decisions across both Instagram and WhatsApp as they expand their business tools.
But 800 million users, and growing, is hard to ignore, and additions like these only make it a more appealing proposition for business. This is the ongoing allure of Facebook more broadly, despite their shifting priorities and focus - it comes with a level of risk to build more reliance on Facebook’s platforms, but the benefits can be equally significant.
Instagram’s testing action buttons with a range of partners, with a view to rolling them out more broadly in future, while the changes to the Direct inbox for business profiles will be active from today in the latest version of the app.