The Next Big Thing In Chatbots — Instagram?

As we enter 2018, it’s no longer news that the world’s largest messaging platforms have surpassed the world’s largest social networks. As much as we “share” we simply like chatting more.

Over the last year, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp each have grown to 1.3 billion monthly active users. These giants enable conversations between friends and family but also facilitate meaningful conversations between people and businesses. On Messenger, there are more than 200,000 chatbots and over 2 billion messages are sent between businesses and people each month. The growth and scale of these platforms is remarkable.

But another huge opportunity could soon exist for brands. Here’s a fun idea. In 2018, Instagram should launch chatbots.

Instagram’s exponential growth and steady introduction of new features has made the visual app a major force for brands. It’s already the place where 800M people follow their favorite brands and discover new ones. But Instagram is overlooked in the 1:1 conversational ecosystem. While direct messaging on Instagram may have been an afterthought, with the release of Stories, Instagram has accumulated 375 million monthly messaging users.

By adding branded chatbots, Instagram can empower brands to move beyond just “hearts” and into personalized commerce, instant customer support and increased consumer engagement. Consumers will love it.

Here’s how Instagram messaging could work…

I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed, see a post from one of my favorite brands or even a relevant ad, and instead of just double-tapping, I click “Let’s chat”— taking me to into the Instagram messaging experience. Instead of promoting a like, a brand can drive me into a rich conversation, designed for reengagement and optimized for personalization.

If you think of a brand’s Instagram feed as mass marketing, their Instagram chatbot is mass personalization.

Instagram Sponsored Post to Chat Concept

Chatbots, when built to segment and engage customers throughout the conversation, drive higher outcomes. For example, at Snaps, we’ve seen how personalized Messenger chatbots yield the highest engagement, CTR and conversion, up-to 80% in some cases. The same could apply with Instagram bots. The opportunity is delivering the perfect message to the right person at the right time. With Instagram bots, brands could regularly engage people around their personal preferences, first party data and purchase history.

Instagram chatbots could also be a powerful way to provide customer service to consumers, instantly. Lets say I have a question about a recent post I just saw or an existing order, why should I have to leave the app to learn more? I should just be able to click “Message” to get more context.

Instagram Customer Support Concept

According to the Harvard Business Review, the single most important factor in customer loyalty is reduction of customer effort. Having an evergreen, automatic chat solution within Instagram could significantly ease this process. Simply by being where customers are can increase positive brand NPS.

Finally, after a purchase, say through Instagram Shopping Tags, a branded Instagram chatbot could send an order confirmation and tracking information right within the app. A new meaning of “sliding into the DM”.

Instagram DM Notification Concept

Over the last two years, Instagram has been on a spree rolling out beloved new features, like Stories and Collections. In December 2017, Instagram announced a standalone app for private messages called Direct. The Instagram team said, “We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is a big part of that.”

While Direct is currently intended for 1:1 conversations between friends, chatbots seem like the next breakthrough feature, in Instagram and in Direct. This is the perfect time for Facebook to transform Instagram into an even more loved platform for consumers, while becoming an immensely lucrative platform for businesses. With such massive ambitions, Instagram could be the next big platform to engage people through their whole customer journey.

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*If you’re interested in building your own chatbot, I’d love to chat with you.

**Thanks to Michele Kuras for designing the imagery & Sam Rose Bort for your thoughtful feedback on this post.