Why Slippin’ into the DMs is a Really Good Thing

Photo of Odette BarryOdette Barry Posted

(And how being a low-key creep can fast track your audience growth on Insta)

 Odette Barry is the founder and director of publicity and social media agency Odette & Co based in tropical Byron Bay. Read on as she shares her tips for sliding into the DMs.

Despite popular belief, the world of Instagram DM’s is not reserved for slyly sending a message to that babe you saw behind the coffee machine (and never worked up the courage to speak to in person). 

As organic reach falls by the wayside, it’s up to us to get out there on the digital footpath and pound the pavement. It’s up to us to find the people that matter to us, and start the conversation. 

DM inbox on instagram

The DM is probably one of the MOST under-utilized tools on one of the MOST heavily populated social media networks, and if you’re not using it, let’s talk about why you should. All superlatives aside, it holds immense power when you’re on that tribe-building, reach-expanding, connection-developing train. 

Spending time in DMs is absolute ~fire~ for your social media strategy and one of the fastest ways to expand your reach, grow your audience and let the algorithm know that you’re a busy, highly-engaged, community member. 

Here are four tips that are working right now to supercharge your Insta game:

OCD lists…for new friends

I’m going to be honest, while the algorithm is busy doing its thing, it’s not amazing for helping you to forge new connections outside of those you’re already talking to. So don’t rely on the newsfeed to be the place where you connect with your current and future peeps.

So as not to drive yourself completely bonkers trying to talk to everyone, you’ll want to develop an a bit of an outreach strategy that helps you siphon your time and energy into the right places. 

Aim to build lists of people who will be influential in your business growth and seek to establish a relationship with them through your outreach – this means you aren’t relying on the newsfeed to dictate who you’re speaking to. 

It’s about being authentic. And, bonus, taking the reins with who you interact with online means saying goodbye to the passive, infinite scroll and populating your feed with things that resonate with you.

My go-to strategy: build 3 (or more) lists of people with 10 people on each list, and rotate through that list every day, reaching out to each of them in succession. If you’re a Virgo (like me), you’ll want to categorise and colour code your list, but you can start with grouping them into categories like referrers, current customers, potential customers, journalists/influencers, and like-minded businesses.

I save a list of the handles that I want to include in my outreach strategy in the notes section of my phone and I ensure that I spend 30 minutes per day, actively seeking out conversations on their accounts and letting them know that they’re on my radar. From here, a beautiful friendship emerges. 

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The ultimate exchange: DMs for Stories

DMs are like the yin to the Instagram Story’s yang. While Instagram Stories are designed to be quick, snappy and loud, the DM reply tethers the people you’re interested in into your (and their!) inbox, creating a more permanent framework that can be accessed over and over again, building layers of conversation and connection. 

Replying to an Instagram Story with a DM

When you reply to someone’s Story with a DM, you’re letting them know that you see them and that you’re interested in what they’re doing. That’s a pretty darn good foundation for a budding relationship.

Now, an emoji or a reaction simply won’t cut it when it comes to firing off a reply to a person you’re forging a connection with. It’s in this quick moment that you want bring a ‘why’ comment to the DM. 

Consider what personal response you could bring. “Oh I’ve had this happen to me so many times too” or “oh my gosh, you’ve done such a fantastic job on your xx – mad respect.” Be sure to use your authentic social media voice – be real, but stay in brand.

Using this format to forge a genuine and intimate connection will not only bring these individuals back to your account and boost your engagement, but it will rapidly build trust and connection between you and the new person to add to your growing tribe.

Poll it together

See ya later stuffy focus groups, enter polls and questions.

Instagram Story with a question sticker

Using your stories to conduct polls to understand what’s rolling around in the minds of your audience helps you to add value and educate them about the things you’re doing. 

What are the gaps between what you think people know about what you do, and what they have grasped? Being inquisitive with surveys and questions will lead to *getting* your people, and you can then tailor your communication back to them. 

The bonus?

Generally your biggest fans or advocates will be quick to respond to your poll, and this is a HUGE green light that they’re keen on your ‘thing’, so use the opportunity to follow up with a DM that shows you’re committed to learning about their point of view. 

If you’re a service-based business, this is essentially the beginning of a discovery process where you can get to know your customers intimately, to tailor your sell…further down the line.

Be the person you want to see in the world

And this one, you already know. 

But let this serve as a gentle reminder: be a GOOD HUMAN, people! 

Let your good human insides shine through to your outsides and into the ether of the gram. 

Be helpful, add value, and every day when you jump online, choose several people/brands to sprinkle some of this good juju onto and build rapport with. 

Be thoughtful in the way you communicate, and the algorithm gods will smile down upon you. This means something a bit more considered than emoji praise-hands/love-heart eyes/fire. Go deeper, forge a connection, and think about why they felt compelled to share what they shared, how it relates to you, and what you can add to the conversation.

Also, people want to know people! Don’t underestimate the value of telling people you love what they do, or connecting with people you met at a panel discussion/retreat/networking event, or reaching out to say thanks for buying your product or availing of your service, or say happy birthday. You know you’re a way more nuanced individual than your brand can represent, so let your followers in on the goods!

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What’s more, is that DMs sit in that sweet little goldilocks zone of communication. Not too hot, not too cold. They don’t require as much organisation as an EDM, but they’re not as confectionary as the 10-second long story. 

And if you spend as much time on the gram as I do, it’s a tidy little convenient platform that offers a chance to give good customer service and reach your peeps all in one place.

Give it a try, and maybe shoot a little DM to @odetteandco to tell tales of your success!

Photo of Odette BarryOdette Barry

Odette Barry

Odette Barry is the founder and director of Publicity and social media agency Odette & Co based in tropical Byron Bay. She loves nothing more than long walks on the beach and hours of GIF-based DM lols deep into the night.

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