Ultimate Guide

Instagram Business Chat: The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Business Messaging

Gabriella
Content Writer, Respond.io
November 25, 2022

Are you looking to use Instagram business chat? This article is for you! We’ll start by discussing Instagram's features and the types of business accounts available. Then, we’ll talk about the types of Instagram inboxes, their features and limitations, as well as how you can drive conversations with Instagram Direct Messaging.

What is Instagram for Business?

Instagram was launched in 2010 as a photo-sharing app. After it popularized hashtags and hit the 50 million users milestone, Meta (formerly Facebook) decided to acquire Instagram in 2012.

The app quickly grew into one of the most popular social apps behind Facebook, Youtube and WhatsApp, and now has features like Reels, Stories, Instagram direct messaging, Instagram Shop and more.

Its unique nature as a visual-first platform and its ability to build a strong brand presence attracted businesses to use the platform to engage with customers.

Realizing the value Instagram has for business use, Meta started exploring the business market in 2014 by letting companies advertise on the app. After seeing success, it introduced the Instagram Professional Account in 2016 and has continued to improve its offerings.

Instagram App Overview

There are 5 main tabs at the bottom of the page on the Instagram App. The home tab, also known as Instagram Feed is where you can see posts from the Instagram profiles you follow. Sponsored posts or other public account posts will also appear on the Feed.

There are 5 main tabs at the bottom of the page on the Instagram App. The home tab, also known as Instagram Feed is where you can see posts from the Instagram profiles you follow. Sponsored posts or other public account posts will also appear on the Feed. If you only want to see the content posted by the accounts you follow, click on the Instagram logo in the top left corner of the screen, and select Following. The icons in the top right of the page allow you to add a new post, look at Instagram notifications and message Instagram users.
Instagram Home tab: Add a new post, view your notifications and message Instagram users

If you only want to see the content posted by the accounts you follow, click on the Instagram logo in the top left corner of the screen, and select Following. The icons in the top right of the page allow you to add a new post, look at Instagram notifications and message Instagram users.

The Explore tab is where you can discover posts by Instagram public accounts that you don’t follow. The search bar allows you to look for other Instagram accounts, hashtags, audio and places that are related to what you’re searching for. The third tab is for Reels, also known as short videos. This is followed by the Instagram Shop tab for Instagram businesses to promote their products and the Profile tab for you to view your profile and manage profile settings.
Instagram tabs: Explore, Reels, Instagram Shop and Instagram profile

The Explore tab is where you can discover posts by Instagram public accounts that you don’t follow. The search bar allows you to look for specific Instagram accounts, hashtags, audio and places, and displays a list of related search results.

The third tab is for Reels, also known as short videos. This is followed by the Instagram Shop tab for Instagram businesses to promote their products and the Profile tab for you to view your profile and manage profile settings. As more features and tools were added, Instagram’s popularity grew.

Where is Instagram Popular?

With over 2 billion monthly active users worldwide, the app became highly valuable to businesses located where Instagram is popular. The biggest contributor to the number is India with over 300 million users, followed by the US with 159.75 million users and Brazil with 119.45 million users.

With over 2 billion monthly active users worldwide, the app became highly valuable to businesses located where Instagram is popular. The biggest contributor to the number is India with over 300 million users, followed by the US with 159.75 million users and Brazil with 119.45 million users. The number of Instagram monthly active users has continued to grow at a steady pace and is on track to reach 2.5 billion by 2023. Today, 90% of Instagram users follow at least one of more than 200 million Instagram business accounts.  Its potential to reach so many people, paired with the features and tools designed specifically for business, makes it an excellent platform for brand building.
Image data source: Business of Apps | Instagram Revenue and Usage Statistics (2022)

The number of Instagram monthly active users has continued to grow at a steady pace and is on track to reach 2.5 billion by 2023. Today, 90% of Instagram users follow at least one of more than 200 million Instagram Business Accounts.

Its potential to reach so many people, paired with the features and tools designed specifically for business, makes Instagram an excellent platform for brand building.

Instagram for Business: The Basics

In this section, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Instagram for business, including the types of Instagram accounts and Instagram Business Account features.

Types of Instagram Accounts

There are two types of Instagram accounts: Personal and Professional. The Personal Account is for regular Instagram users to upload content either privately or publicly without monetizing it. It is also used to follow other users, influencers, public figures and businesses that interest them.

The Professional Account consists of the Business Account for businesses and the Creator Account for influencers and public figures. The Instagram Business Account and Creator Account have similar features.

For instance, both accounts give insights into followers’ demographics and browsing habits and have additional features like setting up Instagram Shop, FAQs, Ads and more.

There are two types of Instagram Accounts: Personal and Professional. The Personal Account is for regular Instagram users to upload content either privately or publicly without monetizing it. It is also used to follow other users, influencers, public figures and businesses that interest them. The Professional Account consists of the Business Account for businesses and the Creator Account for influencers and public figures. The Instagram Business Account and Creator account have similar features.
Types of Instagram accounts

However, since they were created for different groups with unique needs, there are some differences between them. For instance, all Business Accounts can get access to the Instagram Direct Message API, while only Creator Accounts with fewer than 500k followers can access the API.

If a Creator Account has more than 500k followers, it must switch to a Business Account to get access to the API. Note that all Instagram accounts must abide by Instagram's Terms of Use and Community Guidelines.

Now that you understand the types of Instagram accounts, let’s look at the account you’re most interested in: The Instagram Business Account.

Instagram Business Account Features

Instagram has all the tools businesses need to bring their audience through the entire customer journey, from awareness to conversion. To increase brand awareness, businesses can set up Instagram Ads.

Each Instagram Ad account comes with a professional dashboard that provides valuable insights into your marketing performance. This can help you plan your marketing strategies and target the right audience for your Instagram campaigns.

Instagram has all the tools businesses need to bring their audience through the entire customer journey, from awareness to conversion. To increase brand awareness, businesses can set up Instagram Ads. To sell, businesses with a short sales cycle can use Instagram Shop and businesses that need more time to deal with prospects can use instagram business chat.
Instagram Business Account features

To sell on the app, businesses can use Instagram Shop. It is similar to WhatsApp Catalog, which allows businesses to list their products with descriptions and prices. Businesses can enable checkouts on their websites or allow checkout on Instagram via Facebook Pay (available only in the US).

Instagram Shop is suitable for brands with a shorter sales cycle as sales agents don’t need to be involved. However, businesses that deal with high-value items and need more time to convert leads into sales can use Instagram Direct Messaging to follow up with prospects.

There are three types of Instagram DM inboxes with distinct features that are suitable for different business sizes. We’ll explain each of them in the next section.

Instagram Business Chat: Instagram DM Inboxes

Businesses can use one of three inboxes to communicate with customers. This includes Instagram App InboxMeta Business Suite and a third-party inbox for Instagram DM API.

Unlike WhatsApp which requires businesses to create specific accounts for different WhatsApp Business products, Instagram only has one business account.  From this account, businesses can use different types of Inboxes to communicate with customers. This includes Instagram Message Inbox, Meta Business Suite and Instagram DM API connected to a messaging inbox. This image shows which Inbox suits which business size, their rules, requirements, messaging features and limitations.
Instagram business chat: Types of Instagram DM inboxes

Here, we’ll explain which inbox suits which business size, and the rules, requirements, messaging features and limitations of each inbox.

Instagram App Inbox

The Instagram App Inbox is sufficient for solopreneurs and micro-businesses that receive low volumes of messages daily.

The Instagram Message Inbox is sufficient for solopreneurs and micro-businesses that receive low volumes of messages daily. Businesses can access the Instagram Message Inbox simply by creating a business account using the app or instagram.com.Using an Instagram Message Inbox is straightforward, and businesses can start messaging customers immediately after creating an Instagram Account.
Instagram business chat: Instagram App Inbox

To use the Instagram App Inbox, businesses simply need to create a Business Account. Now let’s look at the rules and features of the Instagram App Inbox.

Instagram App Inbox: Messaging Rules and Features

There are minimal rules for the Instagram App Inbox. Businesses can reply to messages anytime and start a new conversation with any public account. However, they need to follow private accounts first to send the first message.

Businesses can start messaging customers immediately after creating an Instagram Account as there are minimal rules for the Instagram Message Inbox. They can reply to messages anytime and start a new conversation with any public account.  However, they need to follow private accounts first to send the first message.
Instagram business chat: Instagram App Inbox Messaging Rules

With the Instagram App Inbox, businesses can set up four FAQs to help customers find the answers to their questions without getting an agent involved and Quick Replies to send canned responses to customers quickly.

With the Instagram Message Inbox, businesses can send pre-determined responses to common customer queries by setting up four FAQs and Quick Replies. FAQs help customers find the answers to their questions without getting an agent involved and Quick Replies allow agents to reply to customers quickly.
Instagram business chat: Instagram App Inbox features

These are the only messaging features you can get from the Instagram App Inbox. For more features, use the Meta Business Suite Inbox.

Meta Business Suite Inbox

Small to medium businesses or businesses receiving low to mid-volume messages daily can use the Meta Business Suite. All you need to access this inbox is to connect your Instagram Business Account to Facebook.

Small to medium businesses or businesses receiving low to mid-volume messages daily can use the Meta Business Suite. All you need to access this inbox is to connect your Instagram Business Account to Facebook. Once connected, you will receive your Instagram DM messages in the Meta Business suite.
Instagram business chat: Meta Business Suite Inbox

Once connected, you will receive your Instagram DM messages in the Meta Business Suite.

Meta Business Suite Inbox: Messaging Rules and Features

Similar to Instagram App Inbox, businesses can reply to followers who message them anytime on Meta Business Suite. However, they cannot start a new conversation with anyone on Meta Business Suite.

The only way to start a new conversation is by using the Instagram App. Once you’ve messaged an Instagram user using the app, it will be reflected in your Meta Business Suite and you can continue the conversation from there.

Similar to Instagram Message Inbox, businesses can reply to followers who message them anytime on Meta Business Suite. However, they cannot start a new conversation with anyone on Meta Business Suite. The only way to start a new conversation is by using the Instagram App. Once, you’ve messaged an Instagram user using the app, it will be reflected in your Meta Business Suite and you can continue the conversation from there.
Instagram business chat: Meta Business Suite Inbox messaging rules

Meta Business Suite comes with additional tools such as labels and agent assignments to organize contacts and conversations. Similar to the Instagram Message Inbox, businesses can set up up to four automated FAQs on the Meta Business Suite.

Meta Business Suite comes with additional tools such as labels and agent assignments to organize contacts and conversations. Businesses can also set up simple Instagram auto replies like welcome and away messages, choose ready-made auto reply templates or build simple custom automation based on keywords. Similar to the Instagram Message Inbox, businesses can set up up to four automated FAQs for Instagram on the Meta Business Suite. They can also read and reply to Instagram comments from the Meta Business Suite Inbox itself.
Instagram business chat: Meta Business Suite Inbox features

Businesses can also set up simple Instagram auto replies like welcome and away messages, choose ready-made auto reply templates or build simple custom automation based on keywords.

If the features that Meta Business Suite provides are not adequate for your messaging needs, you’ll need the Instagram Direct Message API.

Instagram Direct Message API

SMEs and enterprises that receive high volumes of messages and need advanced automation can use the Instagram Direct Message API. However, because it is just an API, it does not have an interface and must be connected to a business messaging inbox like respond.io.

SMEs and enterprises that receive high volumes of messages and need advanced automation can use the Instagram Direct Message API. However, because it is just an API, it does not have an interface and must be connected to a business messaging inbox like respond.io. What you can do with the API depends heavily on the software you choose to connect it with. With the right software, businesses can receive, reply to and keep track of high volumes of messages, automate conversations, monitor agent performance and more.  If you connect the Instagram DM API to respond.io, you can get all the features mentioned above, connect your CRMs to respond.io to create sales deals and support tickets while chatting with customers on Instagram and more.
Instagram business chat: Instagram Direct Message API

What you can do with the API depends heavily on the software you choose to connect it with. With respond.io, you can automate conversations, monitor agent performance, integrate your CRMs and more.

Instagram Direct Message API Messaging Rules and Features

To encourage fast replies, Meta imposes a 24-hour messaging window that requires businesses to reply to customers within that time. While this rule is great for customers, it can be inconvenient for businesses that are closed during the weekends as messages can go unnoticed.

Fortunately, with respond.io, businesses can get a 7-day messaging window with the Human Agent Tag instead of 24 hours by default. Unlike Facebook Messenger, there are no other Tags available to restart a conversation via 1:1 chats or broadcasts with the API.

There are two main messaging rules for the Instagram direct message api. Meta requires businesses to provide an escalation path to a human agent. Some acceptable methods include enabling human agent handoff, leaving a phone number, following up via emails and prompting in-store visits. To encourage businesses to respond quickly, Meta imposes a 24-hour messaging window. Once a Contact sends a message, a 24-hour timer starts and you must reply within that time. After 24 hours, businesses can no longer reply to the message.
Instagram business chat: Instagram Direct Message API messaging rules

Besides that, Meta requires businesses to provide an escalation path to a human agent. Some acceptable methods include enabling human agent handoff, leaving a phone number, following up via emails and prompting in-store visits.

The Instagram DM API has features like receiving Instagram Story mentions, replying privately to Instagram post comments, getting customers to message you via ig.me link and more. We’ll explain more about this later.

Now that you understand everything about the types of messaging inboxes, we’ll show you how to create a Business Account and connect it to a messaging inbox.

Instagram for Business: How to Create an Account and Connect it to Respond.io

If you've decided that Instagram is for you, it's quite easy to get started. In this section, we’ll show you step-by-step how to create an Instagram Business Account and how to connect it to Facebook and respond.io.

How to Create an Instagram Business Account

First, you need to create an Instagram account through the Instagram App or via instagram.com on a desktop. Click the Sign-Up button on the main page. Then, follow the steps below.

1. Fill in your email address, full name, desired username and password.

Fill in your email address, full name, desired username and password.
Instagram sign-up page on desktop

2. Enter a birthdate. This is to ensure no underage users are registering for an account. The date will not be shown on your public profile.

 Enter a birthdate. This is to ensure no underage users are registering for an account. The date will not be shown on your public profile.
Enter birthdate during sign-up

3. Enter the confirmation code sent to your registered email address; now you have an Instagram account.

Enter the confirmation code sent to your registered email address; now you have an Instagram Account.
Enter the confirmation code retrieved from your registered email

By default, the account created will be a Personal Account. You’ll need to change it to a Business Account.

4. Go to Settings and click Switch to Professional Account.

Go to Settings and click Switch to Professional Account.
How to switch to a Business Account on Instagram

5. Choose Business and click Next.

Choose Business and click Next.
Choose the Instagram account type: Business Account

6. Select the relevant business category and click Done.

Select Business Category and click Done.
Choose a relevant business category

7. Review the contact information and click Save.

Review the Contact Information and click Save.
Review your contact information to ensure it’s correct

8. Click Done. And just like that, your Instagram Business Account is ready.

Click Done. And just like that, your Instagram Business Account is ready.
Instagram Business Account is ready

If you’re using a Personal Account for business, convert it to a Business Account by following the same steps from Step 4 onwards. To get full access to Instagram Business features, businesses are recommended to connect their Instagram to Meta Business Suite. We’ll show you how below.

Connect Instagram Business Account to Facebook

To connect your Instagram Business Account to your business’s Facebook Page, you must ensure that you are an admin of the Facebook Page.

First, go to the Facebook Page Settings > Linked Accounts > Instagram and click Connect Instagram. Then, follow the rest of the instructions on-screen. Make sure to allow access to Instagram messages when choosing your Instagram message settings to connect your Instagram account to Meta Business Suite automatically.

To connect your Instagram Business Account to Facebook, you must ensure that you are an admin of the Facebook Page you want to associate your Instagram Business Account with.  First, go to the Facebook Page Settings > Linked Accounts > Instagram and click Connect Instagram. Then, follow the rest of the instructions on-screen.
Connect Instagram to Facebook Page

Now that your Instagram Business Account is linked to its relevant Facebook Page and Meta Business Suite, let’s look at how to connect Instagram to respond.io to use Instagram DM API.

Connect Instagram Direct Message API to respond.io

First, you need to ensure that your account meets the following requirements:

Once the requirements are met, you can connect your Instagram DM API to respond.io and use Instagram with multiple users for marketing, sales and support. Now, let’s take a look at some best practices that you can benefit from when using Instagram.

Instagram for Business: Best Practices

There are many ways for businesses to use Instagram effectively. Here, we’ll talk about getting an Instagram Verified Badge, how to help customers find you and how to start an Instagram business chat.

Instagram Verified Badge

A Verified Badge helps Instagram users find authentic accounts of public figures, celebrities and brands. This can be beneficial to large businesses, popular brands or public figures who are susceptible to having their accounts forged or duplicated.

A Verified Badge helps Instagram users find authentic accounts of public figures, celebrities and brands they’re interested in. It lets customers know that they are interacting with the right Instagram account. This can be beneficial to large businesses, popular brands or public figures who are susceptible to having their accounts forged or duplicated. Instagram looks at a few factors when evaluating Instagram accounts to qualify for a Verified Badge. Besides having to abide by Instagram's Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, Instagram’s official guidelines state that: The brand needs to be authentic, notable, unique, complete and public. The account must represent a well-known, highly searched-for person, brand or entity. It helps if the brand has been featured in multiple news sources. Note that they do not consider paid or sponsored media as credible sources.
Instagram Verified Badge: Requirements

To qualify for the Verified Badge, the brand needs to be authentic, notable, unique, complete and public. While the account must represent a well-known, highly searched-for person, brand or entity, there is no specified number of followers or posts to qualify for verification.

Note that requesting verification does not guarantee that your account will be given the Verified Badge. That said, let’s look at how to apply for it.

How to Get Verified on Instagram

The application for a verified account can only be done via the Instagram App. Simply go to Settings > Account > Request Verification.

This image shows the steps to apply for an Instagram Verified Badge or how to verify your Instagram account.
Verify Instagram Business Account

Enter your full name and provide the required form of identification such as a government-issued photo ID or official business documents. Then, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.

Next, we'll look at the different ways customers can find you on Instagram.

Instagram Business Chat: Help Customers Find You

Instagram offers several ways to help customers find you on the app. This includes paid methods like click-to-chat ads and free methods like in-app search, profile link and QR code, chat link and social posts.

Many Instagram users search for how to dm a business on Instagram. To answer that question, Instagram users can find a business profile and chat with them via in-app search, profile link, QR code, Chat link & clisk to chat ads as well as Instagram posts
Instagram business chat: How customers find you

We’ll discuss how you can use each of these methods effectively below.

Instagram In-App Search

The simplest free method for customers to find and reach your business on Instagram is through the in-app search. Customers can easily search for your Instagram Business Account using your username or profile name.

The simplest method to find and reach your business for free on Instagram is through In-App Search. Your customers can easily search for your Instagram Business Account via username and/or profile name.
Finding an Instagram Business Account via In-App Search

Searching for a username is more reliable compared to a profile name because all accounts have a unique username. To help people find your business easily, choose a username that is similar to your business's actual name.

Instagram Profile Link, QR Code, Chat Link and Click-to-chat Ads

To help new users find your account, you can share your Instagram profile link and QR code to direct them to your profile. Share the link online and place the QR code in both digital spaces and physical locations with high foot traffic.

To help new users find your account, you can share your Instagram profile link and QR Code to direct them to your profile. Simply share the link online and place the QR code online or in other physical locations where there’s foot traffic. To direct prospects to your inbox, you can use the ig.me chat link. While this feature is fairly new, the only way to get an ig.me link is by using the https://ig.me/m/USERNAME format. You can also set up click-to-chat ads to direct people to your Instagram inbox. While this is a paid method, it is more reliable as you can build your target audience based on their demographics, location and interests compared to Instagram post strategies that rely on Instagram's algorithms.
Instagram profile link, QR code and chat link

To direct prospects to your inbox, you can use the ig.me chat link. While this feature is fairly new, the only way to get an ig.me link is by using the https://ig.me/m/USERNAME format. If your Instagram username is grub_n_go_delivery, your ig.me link will be https://ig.me/m/grub_n_go_delivery.

You can also set up click-to-chat ads to direct people to your Instagram inbox. While this is a paid method, it is more reliable than Instagram posts that rely on Instagram's algorithm as you can build your target audience based on their demographics, location and interests.

Instagram Posts

Increasing customer engagement through social posts is free and effective as you can reach both followers and non-followers. To reach non-followers, use strategies that will land your posts on the Explore page or suggested posts on Instagram users’ Feeds.

Increasing customer engagement through Social Posts is free and effective as you can reach both followers and non-followers. One way to do this is by using hashtags in your Instagram post caption. This makes it easy for non followers who are searching for the hashtag to find you.
Increase Instagram post visibility: Use hashtags on Instagram posts

For instance, you can use hashtags to describe your posts, use popular music for your Instagram Reels, create fun effects and more.

You can also increase your profile visibility by creating fun filters. Instagram users can discover your effects on the effect page.
Increase Instagram post visibility: Create fun effects for Instagram users to find you

For your followers, publish content that resonates with them on your Instagram Feed, Stories and Reels regularly. This way, you can connect with your audience, showcase your product and services in a unique way and encourage them to engage with you.

Once engage by leaving a comment or mentioning you in their Story, you can immediately start a conversation with them.

Instagram Business Chat: 1:1 Messaging

Instagram provides a few ways for businesses to communicate 1:1 with customers. For example, if an Instagram user leaves a comment on your Instagram posts, you can respond to their comments via direct message to start a conversation.

how to dm on instagram for business? There are a few ways for businesses to dm customers on the app. One way is to private reply to instagram comments.
Instagram business chat: Private reply to Instagram comments

In cases where followers repost your Stories and tag you or mention you in their Stories, you can drop a follow-up message privately as Story mentions automatically reflect in your inbox. You can also message Instagram users who have viewed your Story.

how to use instagram dm for business? Another way to use Instagram business chat is by replying to customers who mention you on their story and send a message to customers who view your story.
Instagram business messages: Using Instagram Stories to chat with customers

In addition, when you publish a post, Instagram users can click on the paper plane icon to share your post or send a message directly to your inbox. If they use this feature to message you, you’ll know the exact post or content that piqued their interest.

instagram direct message for business: To start a chat with a business, customers can click on the paper plane icon below your post and click on the reply to option. By clicking on the same icon, they can also share the post to their story or to other instagram accounts.
Instagram Messaging for business: Paper plane icon

You’ve made it to the end! By now, you should have an idea of which Instagram direct message inbox is best for your business for marketing, sales and support.

To summarize, if you’re a small business, you’ll want to use the Instagram App Inbox; if you’re a mid-sized business, use Meta Business Suite; and finally, large businesses can use the Instagram DM API connected to respond.io. Unsure which solution is for you? Contact our support team.

Further Reading

We hope this article was beneficial to you. Here are some more articles to help you use Instagram DM for business.

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