Last month, the update every Community Manager had been waiting for was finally released: Facebook, who owns Instagram, announced that its Messenger API has been expanded to include Instagram DMs and Stories. This development means that businesses can now feed their Instagram messages into their existing CRM platforms instead of having to keep up with them manually through the app, helping to streamline the management and response process.
Excellently summarising the benefits of this advancement, Instagram’s business team stated: “Messaging plays an important role in helping people connect with businesses in personal ways through story replies, direct messages, and mentions. When a business can quickly respond and communicate in a personal way, it builds trust and loyalty, turns people into customers, and customers into long-term advocates.”
First and foremost, the main advantage of the API update is that brands can now access all of their customer conversations through a unified system. As explained by Facebook Messenger’s Product Manager, Marion Boiteux, “Many businesses want to manage all communications in one place. Today, people are contacting businesses through many different channels - phone calls, emails, posting on pages, sending messages, and more. And we learned from businesses that it’s easiest to manage these all in one place, and with one view. The API allows developers to make it possible for businesses to do this with a single platform.” This means messages are less likely to get missed or forgotten about - and ensures that brands’ various social media pages are each approached with the same level of importance.
Instagram posts from e-commerce businesses often spark product inquiries from potential buyers. For example, since integrating the new API, beauty brand Kiehl’s reports that it is now driving 30% more qualified leads through Instagram messages compared to its other channels and is converting around 20% of queries into sales.
The same can be said for Stories, too. Because replies to Stories come through as DMs, the API means brands now have an even more quick and simple way of getting back to customers who request information through this feature - as well as plenty of opportunities to upsell.
Thanks to the API, businesses can now handle problems and complaints more efficiently. With 90% of Instagram users already following at least one business, it's often the go-to platform when they’re looking to resolve issues with existing or previous sales. The ability to respond to dissatisfied customers’ public comments through DMs means negativity can be swiftly taken into a more private setting - not only to avoid escalation, but to make the customer feel more valued too.
Cosmetics brand Sephora has taken full advantage of the Messenger update and has amplified its ability to be engaged and active, holding faster conversations, resolving queries more easily, and serving customers solely via Instagram. Since the API’s integration, 100% of consumers who reach out to the brand on Instagram end up actually being served on the platform and no longer require redirection to a separate channel. Additionally, Sephora has found that it now takes 15% fewer responses on average to resolve customer inquiries, reducing the amount of time spent per question and increasing overall efficiency.
The expansion of the API means businesses can monitor and respond to messages through their current CRM and/or Social Media Marketing platforms, with Sprout Social and Hootsuite being two of the biggest names to confirm integration. Sprout, who we are partnered with here at 3sixfive, announced: “Instagram engagement is imperative for your brand and/or business. With Instagram DMs integrated in Sprout’s Smart Inbox, you’ll never miss an engagement opportunity with your audience. You can get a holistic view of your incoming messages, while creating a stronger and more organized 1-1 connection.”
By expanding @messenger API support for @Instagram for our customers in a phased approach, businesses can manage conversations with greater efficiency while providing a more engaging, cohesive customer experience.— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) June 2, 2021
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