Followers and engagement

How to Manage Your Instagram Inbox like a Pro

  • 9 Minutes
Instagram Marketing is a powerful tool for building relationships, customer service, and even making sales. But as a business, the true marketing gold lies in your ability to talk to customers directly via your Instagram DMs.

Instagram Marketing is a powerful tool for building relationships, customer service, and even making sales. But as a business, the true marketing gold lies in your ability to talk to customers directly via your Instagram DMs.

Most people check their Instagram inbox even more frequently than their email inbox. When it comes to customer care, your DM conversations are your biggest opportunity to leave a lasting, positive impression of your brand. The key is to manage your inbox effectively so customers don’t fall through the cracks.

Most social media managers can probably relate to getting stuck answering customer messages on evenings and weekends. At Sked, our goal is to make your life easier and streamline your workflow so you can enjoy Happy Hour without the distracting “ping” of your IG inbox. 

Keep reading to learn how to manage your Instagram inbox and free up hours in your work week! Here’s what we’ll uncover:

  1. Creating inbox workflows that work with you, not against you.
  2. Engaging your audience with Instagram’s built-in messaging features.
  3. Exploring ways to improve your messaging efficiency and use your Instagram inbox to its full potential.

How to access your Instagram DMs

As a social media marketer, Instagram’s Direct Professional Inbox is a godsend. It lets you organize your messages more efficiently and control notifications so you aren’t getting bombarded with messages at all times.

To gain access to the professional inbox, you’ll need an Instagram business account or creator account on the Instagram mobile app. 

Here’s how you can use the professional inbox to better organize your Instagram direct messages on your business profile:

Primary and General Inbox Tabs

If someone you follow sends you a message, it will typically appear in the Primary folder. For most people, these are the messages you’d like to see first. If you’d rather save it for later, you can swipe left to move it to the General tab. 

Notifications for unread messages are automatically turned on for the Primary tab and turned off for the General tab. If you’re going out of the office and want to adjust your notification settings, you can turn them on and off in Settings – more on this below!

Message Requests

Requests are direct messages from Instagram accounts you don’t follow. You can accept or deny them, but request messages won’t be marked as “seen” unless you accept them.

On the Instagram app for Android and iPhone, you can tap on All Requests, then select Top Requests to see requests organized by important accounts. You’ll also see a folder called Other Requests. Approach this folder with caution – it typically contains accounts that Instagram has flagged as potential spam or unwanted solicitation.

When you allow a message request from someone, their future messages will go directly to your Chats list in the Primary tab. From that point forward, all future messages from them will go directly to Primary.

Where to find your Instagram DM settings

To adjust your direct message settings, go to the top right corner of your Instagram profile and open the Settings tab. Click Notifications, then select Messages and Calls from the menu. This will allow you to adjust your settings for different inbox tabs and message requests.

How to use your Instagram inbox to its full potential

  1. Create a plan to organize your Instagram direct messages

Nothing feels better than hitting inbox zero. But to get there, you need the right system to manage your messages. 

Say all of a sudden one of your Reels goes viral and you get hit with a tidal wave of @mentions in your inbox. Or god forbid you have an issue with a product or service and receive a flood of customer complaints. The right inbox management system can make all the difference.

Make sure your team has a way to categorize the messages coming in. For example, you can flag messages by swiping left and clicking “Flag”, or move them to your Primary inbox to make sure they’re seen in a timely manner. Determine who on your team will respond to which types of messages, and what the expected response time will be. 

  1. Utilize Instagram’s built-in features to better engage with your audience

See when your audience is online and connect with them instantly

Image courtesy of Facebook

Following its promises that its DM inbox would get a significant upgrade in 2022, Instagram has made several improvements to help business accounts connect, share, and respond to their audience via direct messaging. They include:

  • Reply while you browse: Received a new message while you’re scrolling through your feed? Now, you can reply without going to your inbox and losing your place. This makes chatting with your audience easier and more convenient. You can also swipe up on Instagram Stories to start a conversation with another user instantly.
  • Quick send to friends: By tapping and holding the share button, you can share a hilarious cat meme or an intriguing news story with your team members without interrupting the Instagram experience. 
  • See who’s online: At the top of your inbox, you’ll see who’s online and free to chat. If they’re online, you’ll see a small green dot next to their name. This is useful if you’re conducting sales outreach via the DMs, as you’ll be able to see who’s online and the best time to reach out.

New experiences for message threads

Instagram is constantly working to make message threads more interesting and engaging. Here are some of the new features they introduced for threads in 2022:

Image courtesy of Facebook

  • Sending messages quietly: “Sliding into the DMs” takes on a whole new meaning with Instagram’s silent messages. If you’re messaging customers late at night, add “@silent” in your message. This allows your message to be sent without an unwanted notification. Trust us: your customers will thank you.
  • Unsend messages: Is there anything worse than typing out the perfect response to an Instagram message, only to realize you’ve made a typo or serious error? Instagram’s got your back. With their Unsend feature, all you have to do is tap your message and hold down, until you see a prompt that allows you to unsend. Voila! It’s like your message never existed. 
  • Create a poll: Trying to pick the perfect time for your next live event? Gather attendees into a group thread and create a poll directly in your group chat to find a time that works for everyone’s schedules. You can also conduct audience research by asking a group about their preferences, or ask for feedback on a product or service.
  • Notes: We all know how Instagram loves to get “inspired” by other platforms (looking at you, TikTok). This time, Instagram is taking a page out of Twitter’s book, except instead of allowing writers to post long-form content, it allows brands to post quick notes or announcements to their Instagram followers. 

Image Credits: Ahmed Ghanem

Notes can be up to 60 characters in length and are only visible in the app for 24 hours. Your followers can also reply to your Notes via the messenger, making them a clever opportunity to engage your audience and spark conversation. 

Private Messages: Whether you’re running socials for a client or you’re part of an agency, it’s likely that your accounts will have multiple people accessing them throughout the day. In the event that you receive a message you wish to keep private or limit to certain team members, Instagram Vanish Mode is the perfect solution.

Vanish mode lets you carry out private chats that disappear after they’re read, protecting both you and your client’s privacy. To turn on Vanish mode, start a chat then swipe up. The screen should turn dark similar to the image below:

To turn off vanish mode, hit the button at the top of the screen or swipe up again, and your messages will return to normal.

  1. Explore ways to improve your messaging efficiency

After picking up on the ways that businesses use their app, Instagram added some handy features to make your job as a social media manager or community manager easier. They include:

Saved/quick replies

Sick of typing out the same welcome message to every new follower? How about answering the same frequently asked questions 10x per day? 

Enter the Saved Replies feature. Rather than typing out the same response each time, you now have a selection of responses in your arsenal that you can send out instantly. 

To create a Saved Reply, hold down a message you’ve sent, tap More, then tap Save. You can also create them from scratch by going into any direct message, tapping the “+” sign, and hitting the box that looks like a speech bubble with three dots inside. To bring up your saved message, type the keyboard shortcut and tap the chat icon to autofill your Saved Reply. 

Suggestions as you type

Instagram’s AI has gotten more and more intuitive over the years. Now, when you type a new message, you might see message suggestions based on matches with your existing Saved Replies. 

To send a suggestion, simply tap the one you’d like to send. That’s it – you’re free to focus your creative energy elsewhere!

Ready to stop logging into Instagram on evenings and weekends?

Now that you’ve got your inbox under control, let’s talk about posting. Sked Social’s auto posting feature allows you to schedule content weeks in advance and not have to worry about being free to post on nights and weekends. 
Give your social media team the power to “set it and forget it” with an all-in-one social media management tool like Sked Social. Try a free 7-day trial today!

Photo of Photo of Kyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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