3 Ways to Manage Instagram DMs & Avoid Inbox Overload

Check out news and frequently asked questions on Sprout Social

Instagram DMs can be a powerful channel for customer service and nurturing relationships with your audience. However, overwhelming amounts of messages, inefficient workflows, and a lack of structure can prevent social media teams from getting the most out of this engagement – and even affect response times. Add all of this to juggling Instagram management between your mobile phone and the other social tools, and it’s no wonder some social media teams are feeling overwhelmed.

If any of these challenges seem familiar to you, you are not alone. In fact, Sprout has received 1,000+ requests to manage Instagram DM in Sprout over the past few years to help ease the mess in the inbox. Thanks to our partnership with Facebook, we’re excited to introduce this feature to more of our customers. As you prepare to start using Instagram DMs in Sprout, we wanted to share some tips with you to not only keep your head above water, but also teach you how to expertly swim through your DMs.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through three ways to build an efficient Instagram inbox workflow:

  1. Make a plan and implement solutions to organize your message volume.
  2. Define the roles of your team and set up efficient workflows.
  3. Automate notifications so you don’t miss an important Instagram message.

The key to successfully balancing a large amount of Instagram DMs, story mentions, comments, and @mentions is having the right systems and tools for the job. We’ll cover how to develop these systems and how Sprout Social can help you further centralize and streamline all of your social messaging workflows.

Priority # 1: Create a plan and implement solutions to organize your message volume

The importance of planning and organizing to achieve your Instagram customer care and community management goals cannot be ignored. If you’re managing a constant stream of incoming DMs, or if your brand suddenly goes viral and a wave of @mentions pours in, the right inbox infrastructure can make all the difference.

What does this organization look like? It can be so easy to identify relevant message types or customer service message categories that you and your team should prioritize. For example, you may find that Instagram DMs tend to involve escalating customer frustrations more than posting comments. Likewise, responding to messages about shipping or ordering issues can be a more time-sensitive priority than quick emoji responses to a recent Instagram story.

Understanding your priorities can help you focus your team and develop an infrastructure that highlights these important messages. Here are some ways to further expand and automate some of these solutions with Sprout Social:

  • Create tags for different customer service categories. For example, you can create tags for “shipping / returns,” “damaged items,” “customer love,” or anything else your team needs to act on.
  • Automate message tagging and filter messages. Set up automated rules to mark incoming messages – e. For example, every time someone mentions “return” or “refund”, it will automatically be labeled “shipping / returns”. That way, your team can only filter the types of messages that you need to prioritize to reduce noise.
  • Sort messages into custom inboxes. You can create a custom inbox view exclusive to Instagram DMs and comments marked “Corrupted Items” for quick work on these types of messages. These custom views allow you to reply to high priority messages first and then move on to the less time sensitive messages.
  • Save your FAQs. Instead of retyping the same answer 200 times a day, you can quickly send brand-approved answers out. You can incorporate these general answers into Sprout’s asset library. With two clicks, team members can enter appropriate answers to incoming messages, saving you time entering answers to each frequently asked question several times a day.

Priority # 2: Define the roles of your team and set up efficient Instagram workflows

Because the size and roles of social media teams can vary, effective collaboration and clear responsibilities are essential. This could mean naming members of the customer service team with different escalation functions based on their expertise, or social teams submitting specific responses for manager approval. With high message traffic, it can be a headache to have multiple team members in your Instagram inbox trying to edit replies.

Having an infrastructure that clarifies the tasks of each team member and streamlines processes is critical to growing your messaging volume. Here are some ways to improve collaboration and make sure your team members are working efficiently with Sprout Social:

  • Task messages to the right team member. If you have identified team members with specific expertise in relation to certain customer care or product categories, or have a sense of the breadth of each individual, you can use tasking. Tasking ensures that messages are assigned to the team members who are best suited to reply or have the bandwidth to reply. Requesting a message sends that team member a notification and a list of messages with tasks that need to be addressed.
  • Send a reply message for approval. This is a great option when you need insight into specific responses (e.g., a disgruntled customer with a unique customer care issue) from a manager or other approver. Reply approvals are built into a simple workflow where you can track the status of the approval and see if the approver has accepted or (with feedback) declined the response.
  • Avoid responding to the same message with collision detection. Sprout shows if you and another employee are interacting with the same message – helping you avoid duplication and a confusing customer experience.

Manage team collaboration with Sprout Social

Priority # 3: Automate notifications so you don’t miss an important Instagram message

Have you ever had a stressful dream about a social media gaffe, a typo or a missed important message? This is where you can have peace of mind by setting up backup systems and automations while giving your customers a better experience interacting with your brand on Instagram. After all, you’re only human – so use the tools at your disposal to make your life and managing your social media inbox easier.

The word automation can sound intimidating, especially when it comes to social media. But building automation doesn’t have to involve writing complex code or using autoresponders. With Sprout, social and customer care teams can quickly create automations to ensure messages or milestones don’t slip through the cracks:

  • Never miss an important message again with custom mobile push notifications. Let’s say Instagram DMs and comments are important to your brand from a customer care perspective, as are @mentions on Twitter. You can set up custom push notifications for these message types only, which trigger an alert when an important message arrives.
  • Stay up to date with spike alerts for high volumes of incoming messages. A sudden influx of news can signal a number of scenarios: maybe your brand accidentally went viral, or (without your team knowing) a new product is constantly showing up as corrupted. Regardless, spike alerts will help you preemptively identify a crisis or opportunity instead of innocently logging into Instagram only to be crushed by ten times the normal number of messages.
  • Add specific users to VIP lists. VIP lists allow you to segment incoming messages from loyal customers, influencers, or even brand roles. In Sprout, you can choose to receive notifications when a message drops from a VIP. Just mark the message as complete or hide it. These automated features are simple but provide a backup so you don’t miss any important messages and hopefully are more relaxed.

Reply to Instagram DMS directly from Sprout Social

Immerse yourself in simpler Instagram management

Customer care and community engagement on Instagram can be challenging. But proper planning and tools can save time that you previously spent tormenting your Instagram inbox so you can focus on more strategic work. At Sprout, we’re excited to continue adding Instagram DMs to Sprout’s Smart Inbox, and hope the tips above will be helpful in navigating, organizing, and replying to a large amount of Instagram DMs.

To start developing optimal workflows and automations for your Instagram management, start a 30-day free trial of Sprout today.