Other than being the ideal platform for video and photo content; Instagram’s also perfect for connecting with like-minded professionals in your industry. This where the Instagram chat, and all its features, comes in.

Aside from convenient communication, Instagram chats help you in your collaborative ventures, help you form exclusive groups, and allow you to directly share content with other users.

Below, explore all you need to know about Instagram’s chat features; and other direct message tips, tricks, and practices.

So, Why Even Start an Instagram Chat?

Creating an Instagram chat is simple – but before we dive into that, how does it boost your Instagram experience?

Instagram chat features

Direct messaging strategies will vary depending on your business or personal goals. We’ve outlined some of the most common uses of Instagram chats below, and how a few can help grow your presence.

Networking

If you’re an aspiring influencer or business owner, then Instagram’s direct messaging tools are a goldmine for networking benefits.

By sending personal messages to others in your field, you’re creating opportunity for valuable business connections or general friendships. Keep in mind, however, that users will respond best to value. 

Instagram chat - networking (Living More Working Less)

Courtesy of Living More Working Less.

Rather than going gung-ho on the inboxes of your favourite brands, stating your love for their company and hoping for a collaboration; determine what you can bring to the table. Don’t just start an Instagram chat focusing solely on your needs – what can the other person get out of connecting with you, too?

For example, if you’re a rising influencer hoping to partner with your favourite beauty companies; it’s best to showcase your portfolio and past collaborations (i.e. makeup brands you’ve marketed for, successful product reviews on your feed) when sending them a DM.

Instagram - brand deals through direct message (G2 Learning Hub)

Courtesy of G2’s Learning Hub.

The reverse applies for brands approaching individual profiles. Ensure the user knows of your credibility and how you can help them grow through your partnered venture.

Engagement Pods

Engagement pods are like exclusive, underground clubs – unless you’re well-versed in the realm of Instagram, you’ve unlikely stumbled upon or heard of one.

Though as low-profile as they are, these “pods” are quick, effective way of boosting your Instagram following (thus growing your business and online presence at a faster rate).

Essentially, these are groups formed on Instagram chat by users of the same industry; who work together in keeping each others engagement numbers at a consistent high.

Woman using smartphone

“Pods” will typically have a set time where each member will “drop” their newest post. Pod members are then expected to like and comment on each other’s posts within a specific timeframe of their initial posting. This boosts each other’s engagement, and their post’s likelihood of appearing on hashtag pages and the Explore page.

Since engagement pods require a team effort, they often have a strict set of rules to keep their interactions successful and efficient. Stray from these rules and fail to do your part – and you may just get kicked out of the group.

How Do You Find Engagement Pods?

There are no hard and fast rules on finding an engagement pod for your niche. A common piece of advice is to simply browse through users in your industry; perhaps connecting with them on Instagram chat to enquire on any “pods” they may be a part of.

It may be tedious and will take time, but it’s a good way to find quality, exclusive pods dedicated to your field.

Reddit IGPods subreddit

Courtesy of Reddit.

Others recommend browsing through Reddit (specifically “r/IGPods“) or Facebook groups for any pods open to or looking for new members.

An Exclusive Group for Friends (or Family)

It doesn’t have to be all business and marketing. At times, you may wish to simply use Instagram chats to great exclusive groups for users closest to you.

Like Facebook, it’s a convenient way of getting in immediate touch with friends or family members; plus, you get cool features like “disappearing” messages (more on these later!).

How to Start an Instagram Chat

There are two ways to start a direct conversation on Instagram – through an individual message, or through a group chat.

Starting a Conversation Thread With an Individual User

To start an Instagram chat with a single user, tap the paper airplane icon on the upper right-hand corner of your screen.

Instagram direct messages inbox

This will pull up a page of your existing chat threads, along with suggested users to contact. Select the squared pencil icon on the upper right-hand corner.

How to start an Instagram chat

Choose who to message from your suggested list of users. Alternatively, you can also search up user in the field provided.

Once you’ve chosen the user you’d like to contact, select “Chat” on the upper right-hand corner.

Starting an Instagram chat - New Message button

This opens up a new Instagram chat thread between you and user. Type in the message you’d like to send, and hit “Send” when you’re done.

Instagram Chat- Sending a Message

You can also send GIFS, photos from your camera roll, or take a new photo or video for them to view exclusively.

Instagram - sending photos, stickers, GIFs through direct message

You can also send individual users a direct message by visiting their profile and selecting the “Message” option just underneath their bio.

Instagram profiles - "Message" button (@bellathorne)

Courtesy of bellathorne (Instagram account).

Creating an Instagram Group Chat

Your other option is to create an exclusive group chat. When you’re in the process of creating a new message, select two or more users from your suggested list (or when searching up their profile names).

When you tap “Next”, this should create a new thread for you and all the other accounts you’ve selected. You can then send a message, GIF, or photo and video content as normal; this will be visible to all members of the group.

Instagram - group chat

Now that you know how to create an Instagram chat, it’s time to dive into some extra tips and tricks!

Instagram Chat Tip #1 – Disappearing Photos or Videos

Similarly to Snapchat content, Instagram now offers the option of sending “temporary” media files to people in your chat groups or threads.

To send one of these files, tap the camera icon next to your chosen recipient when creating a new message. If you’d like to send a send a disappearing media file to multiple people, create a group chat first – then select the camera icon next to your message field.

Instagram - send a photo or video

This will open up your Instagram camera. Tap the button to capture a photo or video.

Instagram - take a disappearing photo or video

You then have three interactive options to choose from: “View Once”, which self-destructs your content once the users opens it once; “Allow Replay” – allowing the user to open your photo or video one more time before it disappears; or “Keep in Chat”, allowing the content to maintain its existence in your chat thread.

Scroll over to either one of those first two options to keep your message temporary. This helpful for sending sensitive information or to keep your thread free from unnecessary media clutter.

Instagram Chat Tip #2 – Sharing Story or Feed Content

You can also choose to share a user’s content directly with another.

To do this with normal feed content, tap the paper airplane icon underneath your chosen post.

Instagram - sharing a post (@arianagrande)

Courtesy of arianagrande (Instagram account).

This pulls up suggested users to share the post with. You can choose to enter an accompanying message, then tap “Send” to your desired recipient.

Instagram - sharing posts

If your chosen user doesn’t show on the list, you can always look for their account in the provided “Search” field.

Instagram - search for users (direct message)

Sharing someone’s Story follows a similar set of steps. Simply tap the paper airplane icon underneath their Story, then select the users you’d like to share it with.

Instagram - sharing a Story (khloekardashian)

Courtesy of khloekardashian (Instagram account).

Instagram Chat Tip #3 – Unsending a Message

We’ve all been in “that” situation – sending out a (possibly sensitive) message only to realize it’s landed in the wrong user’s inbox.

Thankfully, Instagram chats now have the option of “unsending” such messages. The process is quick and easy – tap and hold onto the message you wish to delete, and select “Unsend Message”.

Instagram Chat - Unsend Message

And just like that – your message is gone (complete with a cute explosion effect).

Instagram Chat Tip #4 – Liking a Message

To show extra appreciation for one’s direct message, you can also “like” messages in an Instagram chat thread.

To this, simply double-tap on the person’s message. “Liked” messages will display a small red heart icon (alongside a mini icon of your profile picture) underneath it.

Instagram - liking a message

To unlike a message, tap and hold onto it, and select the “Unlike” option that pops up.

Instagram - Unlike a message

Instagram Chat Tip #5 – Turning Off Notifications

People blowing up your Instagram inbox can be good thing; but if they start cluttering up your phone notifications, you can always turn off these alerts.

This can be done for individual chat threads or for all general messages.

To mute a specific conversation, select the Instagram chat and tap on the “i” at the upper right-hand corner.

Instagram chat details

This takes you to the “Details” page of your Instagram chat. Here, you can toggle between muting or activating notifications for messages and/or video chats. (If necessary, this page also offers the options of blocking or restricting interactions with a specific user).

Instagram - Muting DM notifications

To block notifications from all Instagram chats, head on over to your Instagram settings. Select “Notifications”.

Instagram notifications

Then, select “Direct Messages”.

Instagram notification settings - Direct Messages

This will take you to a page of all your enabled/disabled DM notifications. Choose “Off” under “Messages” to mute all your chat threads.

Instagram Direct Message Settings

Instagram Chat Tip #6 – Connect With Your Customers!

Finally, Instagram chats are an extremely convenient tool for responding to customer complaints, queries, and concerns.

Some customers may drop a message into your inbox directly; though plenty others may leave their thoughts as comments on your feed content.

Rather than responding to these through a comment of your own, it’s best to reach out to them through a personal direct message.

Instagram - customer service through direct message (Social Media Examiner)

Courtesy of Social Media Examiner.

This provides them with a more thoughtful, “human” response, helping them build trust in your brand. It’s also a more effective, hands-on way of handling their inquiries, allowing you to confront their concerns head-on.

If you’re managing a growing business with a large customer base, it may get overwhelming tending to all customer messages on your own. At this point, you way want to consider an additional account manager or assistant to handle your customer service duties.

Using the “Instagram Chat” Sticker in Stories

In mid-2019, the platform introduced their latest Story feature – a sticker allowing users to start exclusive “Instagram Chats” straight from their Instagram Stories.

Similarly to other Story stickers – such as polls, quizzes, and question boxes – the “Chat” sticker encourages further interaction from your viewers. Users can typically use this to get followers in on relevant conversation topic; such as current sports events, news reports, or pop culture updates.

To use the “Chat” sticker, select it from your collection when creating a new Story.

Instagram Story Chat sticker

Enter a title for your chat. This should summarize the topic you’d like your followers to engage in.

Instagram Story Chat - enter a title

Once you’ve done this, publish your story. Audiences who see your open chat can tap on the sticker to request to join.

Instagram - request to join a Story chat

To look through your chat requests, tap on the list of those who’ve viewed your Story. This should pull up all users who have requested join your chat.

Instagram story - view chat requests

Tap on “Start Chat” or “Add to Chat”. The platform will then take you to your exclusive message thread of users looking to participate in your conversation.

Instagram - new Story chat

And that’s it! By publishing an open invite to start a specific conversation, you ensure your group chat contains users who truly wish to engage in your chosen topic.

Do Users Know If You’ve Screenshotted Your Instagram Chat?

As of now, Instagram does not notify users of screenshotted chats. This anonymity, however, does not apply to disappearing photos or videos.

Instagram disappearing messages - screenshot notification (TechJunkie)

Courtesy of TechJunkie.

When a user screenshots such content, a notification is displayed next to the message indicating that it’s been screenshotted. Notifications also appear next to “disappearing” content when it’s been delivered, opened, or replayed.

Use Instagram Chat to Grow Your Following!

Through our prime focus on creating the most aesthetically-pleasing feeds, polishing our marketing strategies and bumping up that follower count – we often forget the more “social” aspects of this social media platform.

As discussed, optimizing Instagram’s chat features can help establish new connections and relationships; score that ideal partnership; and create a convenient platform for exclusive communication.

Reach out to brands, users, and customers through Instagram chat – you never know the opportunity one direct message can bring!