If You’re Not Using Instagram Direct Messaging, You’re Missing Out

It’s been said that most people only use 10% of their brain. Movies like “Lucy” and “Limitless” run with this urban legend, arguing that by unlocking the brain’s full potential, an average human can achieve godlike levels of perception and reasoning.

While that’s nothing more than an urban legend wrapped in pseudoscience, it is a great analogy for untapped potential of modern social media.

Most people only use a fraction of the features that social media has to offer, and that’s fine for casual users. Your grandma only really needs to know how to upload pictures from her phone to Facebook. As a business owner or a social media marketer, however, only using 10% of the features that social media has to offer just isn’t going to cut it.

With so much going on, social media is noisy, but DMs help you break through that noise by zeroing in and talking to someone directly. #MichaelsWilder #socialmediamarketing Click To Tweet

That’s why today’s post covers a simple but versatile, powerful but overlooked, social media tool: the Instagram DM.

Now, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary about Instagram direct messages. It’s a basic messaging service that lets you send text, photos, gifs, and so on to other users. The Instagram direct message (DM) service isn’t particularly innovative, but guess what? It doesn’t need to be.

So, let’s take some time to really dig into the ways in which any social media marketer, personal brand, or business can take advantage of the Instagram DM and unleash 100% of their potential.

There’s No Substitute for a One-On-One Conversation

It all goes down in the DMs. It’s where you go to make connections with other business owners, influencers, and thought leaders in your niche. It’s where you find new customers. It’s where you go to reach out and keep your current customers engaged. It really is your Swiss Army Knife of Instagram.

Yet, it’s woefully underutilized.

I get it. Not everyone is comfortable reaching out for a one-on-one conversation. It’s a whole different experience from livestreaming to an audience or posting a pic. It’s more personal.

But that’s exactly why it’s so effective.

Social media is noisy. There are countless brands, influencers, and businesses competing for the attention of their target audience. DMs help you break through that noise by zeroing in and talking to someone directly. That’s how you can rise above the din of the crowd and truly stand out.

So, whatever your goal (engaging your followers, networking with potential business partners, or promoting to new customers), let’s walk through the steps you need to succeed with IG direct messages:

1. Do Your Research

The beauty of Instagram is that it gives you an easy way to reach literally anyone with an account. Heck, you could even send a DM to Oprah (although it’s unlikely that you’ll get a reply).

While you’re probably not going to get anywhere by messaging a bunch of celebrities, you can leverage Instagram DMs to make valuable connections to others in your niche. Whether that person is a potential customer, a business partner, or influencer, sending a DM is the best thing you can do to get your foot in the door.

Start by doing some hashtag research. Look for local hashtags and hashtag topics that relate to your industry. Then, find the people who could benefit from what you have to offer. If you’re a dog groomer, look for people with pets. If you’re a website developer, look for businesses or bloggers with an outdated website.

Not only can you find new customers this way, you can also find influencers who can help promote your business. But, before we get to that, take a look at their follower ratio and their engagement. Keep in mind that a high follower count does not necessary ensure high engagement, and “micro-influencers” are often more open to making connections.

After you’ve found your target audience, it’s time to catch their attention.

2. Lead with Value

Keep in mind that the world of Instagram DMs is filled with salespeople—bad salespeople at that. The social media gurus, the life coaches, the wellness experts—they’re all trying to sell you something but offering nothing in exchange for your attention. Don’t be like those people! Focus on providing value through your DMs.

Leading with value is all about putting others first. You want to give them something that they want or need, and, in exchange, they’ll be more open to doing the same for you. Keep in mind, however, that what is valuable to one person is not necessarily valuable to another, so you’ll need to think about who it is you’re messaging when you write up your value proposition. The following is a list of common reasons to send a DM and some suggestions for providing value to each target audience: 

Building Brand Loyalty Among Existing Followers

  • Provide insider content. Whether it’s a sneak peek at a new product or a special holiday message from your team, exclusive content makes people feel like they’re part of the “in-crowd.”

  • Run a promotion. Promise that each person who likes or comments on a particular post will receive a coupon in their DM. Use that as an opportunity to strike up a conversation.
  • Thank your most engaged followers. If one of your followers is constantly liking or commenting on your content, give them a shout out in a DM. While a simple thank you goes a long way, offering a special discount or offer will really get their attention. 

Reaching New Potential Customers

  • Send out some of your free content. For example, let’s say that you have a company that specializes in kitchen renovation. Maybe you stumble across a post from some who just bought a new house. Try sending them a link to a relevant blog post from your website, and you just might have a new lead.
  • Offer a new customer discount. Again, you’ll want to target people in your area who could potentially be interested in what you have to offer.
  • Be generous with compliments. Just reaching out and saying something like, “Hey, I just wanted to reach out to say that I love your feed. Your content is so inspirational,” will prompt most people to take a look at your profile. Compliments are free to give, and that initial connection could ultimately lead someone to make a purchase from your business.

Promoting Your Product to an Influencer

  • Offer influencers a discount or give out a sample of your product. Sometimes the exposure from having an influencer rep your product is well worth the cost of giving it away for free. For example, if you’re a musician, try finding someone who will use your music in a video. Or, if you’re a restaurant owner, offer a free meal to a foodie blogger. Just getting your product in front of their audience is invaluable to raising brand recognition and acquiring new customers.

Keep in mind, you cannot go into the conversation thinking, “What can I get out of this?” Other people see right through that mindset, and no matter how good your product is, they’re going to write you off as just another spammer. Figure out what you have to offer, and lead with it.

Outdoor portrait of a Young black African American men texting on mobile phone

3. Try, Try Again

The fact that Instagram makes it so easy to find others in your niche and send them a message means that your odds for reaching the right people are increased, but it doesn’t mean that every message you send will work out the way you plan. Success does not happen overnight. For each successful connection, there will be hundreds of people who leave you on read. And that’s okay.

The more DMs you send, the better your chances of reaching the people who need to hear what you have to say. With each failure, you’re getting closer to success.

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about a dozen messages a day. I’m talking about a hundred. It’s not difficult. Use the time you would be just watching tv or waiting for a business meeting. It takes minutes to send a short message, but the impression you leave could last a lifetime.

Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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