6 Tips for Using Instagram for Social Media Customer Service

We all know how great Instagram is for generating leads and driving sales, but it’s also a great (and super important) tool for social media customer service! 

But managing all of your comments, DMs, and replies can be a major challenge — and a HUGE time suck.

How do you keep up with everyone?!

In the following post, we offer a bunch of awesome strategies for how to respond quickly, resolve issues, and give great social media customer service on Instagram:  

social media customer service

Why It’s Important to Use Instagram for Social Media Customer Service

Did you know that 80 percent of customer inquiries on social media go unanswered?

That’s a pretty startling figure considering that 88 percent of consumers are less likely to purchase from a company that doesn’t respond to questions on social media, and 30 percent will go to a competitor if they don’t receive a response.

The fact is that responding to customer inquiries on social isn’t just about good manners — it’s about growing your business as well.

On the flip side, 65 percent of people feel greater brand loyalty when they receive a response over social media.

In fact, according to a study by Bain & Company, customers whose questions are answered on social media end up spending 20 to 40 percent more money with the company.

So the next time one of your follower leaves a comment on a post, or asks a questions over Direct Message, it’s really in your best interest to engage.

Social Media Customer Service Tip #1: Switch to an Instagram Business Profile

One of the best ways to refine your support setup for Instagram is by switching to a Business Profile.

Along with Instagram Insights and the ability to promote posts within the app, when you switch to a Business Profile you can add a “Contact” button near the top of your profile.

social media customer service

With the contact button, you have the option to include directions, a phone number, and/or and email address, which makes it super easy for your followers to get in touch with you!

social media customer service

It’s also pretty common for businesses to share their email in their Instagram bio. So if you prefer to stick with a personal Instagram profile, you can always use this strategy.

social media customer service

Social Media Customer Service Tip #2: Use the Right Tool for the Job

If your business is on the larger-side and you get a lot of activity on your account, you probably have a lot of comments and DMs to sift through.

If that’s the case, consider using a social customer support tool that allows you to collect everything in one place and triage inquiries, as well as escalate and assign to other members of your team.

You can even use Later’s Search & Repost feature to manage comments on your Instagram posts!


One of the biggest benefits of a software is that every comment will come through from Instagram, making it much less likely that you’ll miss one as opposed to scanning comments from the app yourself.

It also means that comments on older posts will come through, without needing to scroll back weeks and months to make sure you catch everything.

If you aren’t using a social customer support tool, it’s best to manage your comments and DMs from within the mobile Instagram app. 

The reason is that you can’t access DMs from the desktop version of Instagram, and it’s also a lot easier to miss notifications.

A customer might be scrolling through and see a post from a while ago that reminds them that they have a question. If you don’t check the post or actively check your desktop notifications, then you won’t see their comment and it will go unanswered.

Social Media Customer Service Tip #3: Connect Your Instagram DMs to Facebook

Here’s another handy tip: if you’re answering inquiries on Facebook as well as Instagram, you can consolidate your messages by sending your Instagram DMs to your Facebook Messenger inbox.

You can also easily connect your Facebook Messenger inbox to help desk software like Freshdesk. That way your customer service team can integrate social media customer service into their normal workflow.

social media customer service

If you’re managing your Instagram comments and DMs from your desktop, it’s also a good idea to create a list of pre-written answers to some of the more common questions that come your way.

Not only will this help you stay organized, but it can save you a few keystrokes (aka time!) as well.

But don’t just copy and paste your replies! You need to modify your responses so they’re specific and customized to each inquiry. And always address the customer by name!

social media customer service

Using Instagram for social media customer service is the perfect opportunity to create a personal connection with your audience, but that won’t happen if they don’t feel like you care about them.

You need to take the time to make sure they feel like they’re truly being listened to.

Remember: a little effort can go a long way.

Social Media Customer Service Tip #4: Speed is of the Essence

According to Convince & Convert, 32 percent of social media users who contact a brand expect a response within 30 minutes, and 42 percent a response within 60.

This might sound a bit demanding, but as the speed of communication ramps up even more, you can expect this timespan to get even shorter.

social media customer service

The reality is that your followers want answers fast — really fast!

If you have the bandwidth, it might be a good idea to delegate the responsibility of responding to DMs or comments to a specific person. This could be a member of your customer service, community engagement, or digital marketing team.

You can also rotate the task if you manage your Instagram account as a team.

By assigning the job to several different people on a rotating basis, you’ll be way more efficient and quick with your responses.

Social Media Customer Service Tip #5: Speak Your Customer’s’ Language

The tone you take in your social media customer service should definitely align with your overall brand, but there’s also an opportunity to be a little more casual.

Social is typically a more impromptu, less formal channel for communication, so your tone can reflect that.

But as with other channels, your tone should mirror the tone of the individual customer. If they’re frustrated, it’s best not to joke. If they’re using emojis, then send them a smiley!

Since your Instagram channel is a public space, you need to be extra careful and use the utmost discretion, because whatever you post can be shared with others.

This is of course true on other channels as well, but with social, it’s easier and faster to share, and the number of eyes on any given communication is exponentially larger.

Even if the customer in question doesn’t share your response, someone else could!

Photographer Max Dubler shared screenshots of a negative interaction he had with a brand over Instagram. It quickly went viral on Reddit.

It’s better to be careful when addressing mistakes you’ve made. Rather than making excuses, accept responsibility and lay out your plan to make things right.

When a customer shares critical feedback, don’t get defensive. Let them know you’ve heard it and that you appreciate it.

The fact is that 96 percent of unhappy customers won’t complain — and 91 percent will simply leave. So thank your customer for giving you the chance to turn things around!

Social Media Customer Service Tip #6: Move Conversations to a Private Channel When Necessary

Using Instagram for social media customer service makes it super easy for your customers to contact you — and it also shows your other followers that you’re committed to taking care of your customers!

But there are some times when you should move the conversation to a private channel.

1. When you need to protect a customer’s private information

Never ask a customer to publish their email address or other personal information in a public forum. This puts them at risk to be spammed or otherwise harassed.

If you need this kind of information, it’s better to move the conversation to a private channel.

2. When you need more words to solve the issue

A channel that’s more suited to long form replies will make it cleaner for your customer to read the entire response.

If you anticipate a significant amount of back-and-forth, it might be a good idea to move the conversation to email.

3. When it’s a unique problem or circumstance

If a customer reaches out to discuss a problem or circumstance that’s unlikely to apply to your other customers (like a specific technical issue) it’s a good idea to move the conversation elsewhere.

You don’t want to create create noise for the rest of your customer base, so discuss the issue with the customer in a one-on-one setting instead.

With all of these tips in your pocket, you’re sure to give great social media customer support on Instagram!

Just remember that responding to a follower or customer on Instagram might seem like a small thing to you — but it can mean a lot to them! And there’s really no better way to build a connection with your audience than by actively engaging with them. 

Have a great (or terrible) customer service story over Instagram? Share it with us below in the comments. We’d love to hear it.

Ready to get moving with your Instagram marketing strategy? Later makes it easy for you to plan, manage, and schedule your Instagram posts!

Written By

Sarah Chambers

Sarah is the founder of Supported Content, a customer support consulting and content agency. To start a conversation, ask her about her favorite support metrics or her best day on a snowboard. This post was developed in collaboration with Nykki Yeager, a writer for Supported Content, and all around impressive person.