The Icky Side of Instagram DM Marketing

Fake or Real - Popular DM Instagram Strategy by Emily Reagan PR

Lessons from a Digital Marketing Virtual Assistant who does the work:

There’s something I need to get off my chest and it’s an Instagram DM tactic that is making me kinda sick…. so get ready. Here goes my rant.

Right now we keep hearing in the social media and Instagram world that “the power is in the DMs”.

(DMs = direct messages.)

Here’s the thing though, not every business owner on Instagram has 10k followers. Which means they don’t have access to the magical “swipe up” feature for the Instagram Stories.

And even if they do have the swipe up ability, Instagram is not usually the platform where followers take action. IG users are usually browsing for entertainment. They tend not to leave the platform.

And Instagram likes it that way. Just look at how Instagram locks its followers there: there’s only one outside link allowed in the account profile (link in bio). And in the feed post there are no links allowed. (Well Instagram does want us to “shop now” and will let us do that!!! ) But Instagram doesn’t want its followers going to other websites.

So the big IG strategy right now, especially if one doesn’t have the 10k, is to have a call to action that results in a DM. The algorithm loves when a post or a story encourages a follower to use the DM function…. so you’ll see this tactic a LOT even if someone has the swipe up feature.

So here’s my thing…

As the online world gets bigger and bigger, social media users crave real relationships, with one-on-one attention. And a quick DM can make an instant personal connection … building that loyal fan, sharing a sales page link, and maybe even getting in a purchase.

During product launches, biz owners on IG might coach the sale in their DMs and encourage their followers to self select and “DM Me” if interested. It’s a great tactic to further communication without using a chat desk.And deliver that sales page link in IG.

Well one trick business owners are doing is every time they get a new follower they send a quick video DM to their new follower. This video is intentionally trying to collect the new follower’s pain points and language and to make a quick connection.

But usually the video is generic and missing a name:

“Hey, so glad you’re here … how can I help you?”

At first the new follower feels special, “So-and-so sent me a personal private message!”

The reality is: it’s typically the Instagram virtual assistant who is doing the work (ie: sending a canned message) as a response.

Fake Glasses and Mustache - Instagram DM Strategy by Emily Reagan PR

Why I don’t like this…

It’s fake. I love Instagram. But I prefer being authentic and real.

And when I get sent an obnoxious scripted (conveniently-filmed-on-makeup-day) “welcome” I immediately unfollow. It grosses me out. I already know this IG account will be self-serving and not something I will benefit from. I know this person is just in it for the quantity of followers and for their appearances.

Especially when I’ve met this person in real life and their VA doesn’t know this!!!

My advice: use this fake tactic sparingly and if your client insists on sending these canned welcome video clips, do it right! If you can’t make it personal, make it timely, make it candid, make it real! You can still connect with the followers without having the fake.

Try to actually look at your new follower’s profile and COMMENT, LIKE, or MENTION SOMETHING PERSONAL in your written DM. Appreciate each person who has taken the time to reach out to you.

Because that’s how you connect with real people. (Mic drop!)

And even if you don’t have time do to that, there are other ways to use your posts and stories to connect with the masses. Think outside the box.

The Instagram DM Takeaway for the VA

People are getting smart about social media. If your client is going to use Welcome DM Videos as part of their Instagram marketing strategy, encourage him/her to do it right and do it for real, or don’t do it at all. It’s reputation management right now and you’re helping them set the foundation for that customer relationship right at the beginning.

Ok, rant over.

Here’s to building true connections on Instagram!

-Emily, Digital Media Consultant (and Virtual Assistant …)


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Further Reading

Why You Need an Instagram Takeover, and How to Do It!

Think About This Before You Design Your Next IGTV Video

Worry Less About Your # of Followers, and More About Your Engagement Rate

What You Need To Know About Being a Social Media VA

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Emily Reagan is a jill-of-all trades when it comes to digital marketing and techie skills. She’s worked as a behind-the-scenes digital marketing implementor and strategist for a decade for online biz owner clients.

She’s a mom of four, Air Force wife, and founder of the Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School, where she teaches smart women the in-demand, highly-coveted digital marketing skills to get flexible, online work.

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