Instagram: The New Frontier for Customer Service?

Matt Wurst

VP, Client Management

Brands have flocked to the Facebook-owned social network to create a special bond with consumers, fans and their prospective targets. But is Instagram really on the verge of becoming a new customer relationship channel?

Instagram has one billion active users and more than 25 million “professional” profiles worldwide. The highly visual platform, with multiple publishing options, live formats, and transferability between Facebook has given put Instagram squarely at the heart of brand’s digital marketing and communication strategies.

More than Just Pretty Pictures

An exceptional showcase for products AND lifestyle content, Instagram is ideal for boosting brand awareness and image. Their biggest and best ambassadors for brands on Instagram are highly influential, though many brands have seen just as much success, if not more, with micro and nano influencers whose followings are well below ten thousand subscribers. But just as was true in the early days of Facebook and Twitter, community management and engagement between users and brands is essential today. As such, Instagram has also given consumers another channel with which to communicate back to the brands. 

So, can Instagram become a new customer relation and service channel?

Indeed, as Instagram has become as much a commercial platform as much as a community platform, there are now more, enhanced channels for discussions, comments, and complaints from customers (As should be the case with any e-commerce site). According to a recent ‘ Customer Contact Radar ‘ study by Survey Sampling International, 13% of consumers now contact brands through Instagram. Public comments, reactions to stories, private messages, and other queries and requests must be processed in order to satisfy the customers. An uncertain answer is still better than no answer at all, provided that the exchange is qualitative.

Remember, consumers, do not have visibility into your social media strategy or responsive communications PowerPoint slides. You may not see Instagram as a customer service platform, but your consumers no longer differentiate.

So What? Now What?

As brands and representatives of brands, we must not only react quickly but also personalize the message. An automated or canned response will only degrade the customer relationship and leave a lasting negative impression. Another important element: do not favor only positive comments. Indeed, negative comments and criticism are deliberately intended to be visible to everyone and potentially penalize the brand. A non-response would only lead to more criticism and buzz for a brand. The solution? Show that you are aware of the issue, complaint, or problem, and promise to be open-minded and solutions-oriented. The goal is to then take the conversation off the public channel and into more private lines of communication such as email or Direct Messages.

Optimizing and accelerating response time not only improves customer satisfaction but can also boost your revenue: A report published by Twitter revealed that the airlines that provided responses and answers within six minutes or less following a question made customers ready to spend $20 more per price displayed. Meanwhile, according to Gartner, the unsubscribe rate of a brand page can be up to 15% for companies that do not respond to comments posted on social networks.

Ultimately, whether positive or negative in tone, consumer and customer comments can become positive examples of brand responsiveness, personality, and purpose. Take every opportunity to turn them into testimonials that work to your advantage! Post their stories with your products or photos/videos, reward their engagement and thank them for using your products.