Industry predictions state that the marketing automation trend will continue to grow in 2020. Its impact is already visible in virtually all areas of digital marketing: from analytics, through advanced metric projections, to social media management – and marketers simply can’t ignore it.
But implementing automation strategies often is not a walk in the park. You may end up at either of two opposite extremes; relying entirely on marketing automation and losing your human touch, or pretending that it doesn’t exist and letting the benefits slip away. Whichever stance you take, it will be extremely visible in the way you manage your social media and interact with your followers.
How do you find the sweet spot? The answer may lie in auto-comments. Today, we’ll talk a bit more about using automated replies to Instagram comments. We will try to answer the following questions:
- What are automated replies on social media?
- How are they different than bots?
- What are the benefits of using automated comments?
- When should you use auto-comments?
- When should you avoid automation?
- What are some examples of successful Instagram automation?
- What are Instagram auto-comment best practices?
- How do you set up auto-comments for Instagram?
Fasten your seatbelt: we’re starting right now.
What are automated replies on social media?
Automated replies on social media can resemble autoresponders known from email. They are triggered once someone starts an interaction or leaves you a comment containing specific words.
Their main purpose is to ensure that no comment (that meets certain criteria, usually) is ignored, but also to shorten the distance between your brand and your audience and provide a better experience. With automated replies, you are able to improve your response times and automate answering generic questions.
Auto-comments vs. bots
In an era when Instagram is struggling with bot overload, fake followers, and spammy comments, anything that’s automated can seem suspicious at first glance.
Reports speak of 95 million bots on Instagram, which accounts for 9,5% of the platform’s users.
Many of those bots auto-comment without permission and, more importantly, without making sense, doing more harm than good to particular Instagram users. Having encountered how this works, many Instagram users choose to stay away from any form of automation.
Long story short: bots have nothing to do with thoughtfully curated automated moderation.
First of all, automatic replies appear exclusively on your profile, as a reaction to existing follower engagements, and following specific rules that YOU set. Setting up an automated response system does not entail posting anything to other profiles or automatically following new people. If we were to compare this kind of marketing automation to emails, the difference would be equivalent to that between autoresponders and spam.
Moreover, there are several actions that you can perform by setting up auto-moderation rules: on top of replying, hiding and deleting offensive or spammy comments is also possible. You can’t, however, use automated social media moderation to follow anyone or to send direct messages. We’ll cover this in more detail later on.
Benefits of automated comments
Auto-comments take the weight of some tedious tasks off your shoulders, increasing your time- and cost-efficiency. Here are some other ways they can support your business.
Building a positive brand image
If you provide your followers with a positive and timely reaction from your side soon after they interact with your content, then their positive sentiment towards your brand will only get stronger.
With auto-comments on Instagram, your brand can quickly reply to specific reactions in a heartbeat, keeping followers in an engagement loop.
Delivering better customer service
Manual moderation of a popular Instagram account is a lot to take on one plate. When your team doesn’t have to spread themselves thin to address each comment, they can put extra effort into handling more difficult cases and providing a stellar customer experience.
Many customers’ enquiries on social media can go unanswered, so make sure that you’re not one of the negligent brands who don’t interact with their followers. Auto-comments on Instagram can help your team find some much-needed time for digging into the details of particularly troublesome cases instead.
Getting rid of spammers
If you have noticed some repetitive spam comments, you can set up an auto-comment rule that will automatically delete them to take care of the quality of your profile.
The nature of such comments can be various: spam comments coming from fake Instagram users, some accounts of your competitors trying to derail your Instagram ads, or simply offensive and inappropriate content often coming from hacked accounts.
All of these cases can be easily managed with an automated moderation rule to delete comments that include particular keywords.
Sorting out your social media communications
Are your Instagram profiles really engaging? That’s great! However, handling many comments manually can be a real troublemaker. With auto-comments, you can quickly set up some rules for appraisal comments, repetitive keywords, or complaints. Auto-comments can help you take back some control over your Instagram accounts so that you can focus on unleashing your creativity.
Instagram automation: when to use auto-comments
Auto-comments are particularly recommended for a few specific scenarios mentioned below, which is a good list to start with. However, feel free to test out some other ideas!
If you present your products or services on Instagram, you likely receive a lot of questions regarding prices or availability. Setting up a thoughtful auto-comment reaction for those cases can shorten the customer journey and help your potential clients make their final decisions.
Do you know that 57% of customers expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours? By setting up some rules for the most common queries, you will be a step closer to meeting this demand. Even a short, concise comment, ensuring that you’re processing the request, can be comforting for Instagram users who are seeking instant answers.
Ignoring emoji reactions or kind words from your followers won’t destroy your brand, but acknowledging and answering such comments will definitely be seen as a lovely gesture. Many brands don’t do this, yet it could be the key to success in generating consistently high engagement. You can put the process on autopilot with auto-comments.
If you create an auto-comment rule for replying to specific emojis and keywords, it’s a win-win situation: you spend almost no time managing answers, yet your potential clients may still feel appreciated and encouraged enough by your reply to keep interacting with your brand.
There are exceptions, though. An automatic rule could be triggered at the wrong moment, for example when you receive a sarcastic comment that goes outside the scope of your rules. That’s why automated moderation cannot fully replace a team of hands-on professionals – but it can definitely save them a ton of time.
Instagram automation: when not to use automated comments
While auto-comments can be hard to spot when used correctly, it is easy to tell when the system fails.
Below, we cover some cases where auto-comments might not work as desired.
No rules = no automated replies
If you don’t prepare any triggering rules, then automated replies may show up when they’re not needed or when they don’t fit the context.
Domino’s Pizza is clearly used to receiving some negative posts on social media, but the comment in the example above is actually positive. A customer decided to share a few kind words about the pizza they ordered, yet Domino’s Pizza took it as a complaint and sent a “sorry about that” message back.
While we can’t be sure the comment was sent automatically, it’s pretty safe to assume that that was the case. This example showcases the importance of filtering and classifying comments when setting up automated moderation. If the rule had been set up to react to “best pizza” as a positive keyword, Domino’s could have automatically sent out a nice thank you message instead.
In another example, American Air has automatic comments set up as a response to all mentions of their brand, regardless of context and sentiment. Users quickly caught on to this fact and proceeded to mock American Air’s customer service on Twitter.
The takeaway: auto-comments must go side-by-side with well thought out triggers and rules.
Complex questions or serious complaints
There are many threads on Twitter that started off with a serious question or complaint. In some of these cases, brands react with automated, out-of-context responses.
Auto-comments work wonders on simple comments with a positive or neutral sentiment. More advanced issues, however, should be handled by customer service professionals. Otherwise, auto-comments can just make the people already annoyed with a brand even more upset.
The takeaway: auto-comments save you time. Spend it on resolving more complicated cases.
The Snapchat Support auto-comment seen below was apparently activated by the words “lost” and “streak”. Although the response might have been appropriate in the majority of cases, this time it simply couldn’t win.
The takeaway: Predicting every incoming message is simply impossible. Put effort into establishing your rules, but still be prepared for them to fail occasionally and/or to be challenged by your audience.
Instagram automation case study: Triumph
Some brands wouldn’t openly admit to using automated responses, but there’s nothing wrong with automating your comments in certain circumstances. Below we present a positive example of using automated Instagram moderation for social customer care purposes.
The screenshots below come from Triumph’s official Instagram profile. The brand utilizes auto-comments to interact with their fans.
We can identify three main types of auto-comments on their Instagram profile.
The first type includes queries about shop locations, pricing, and shipping options. Comments that belong to this group usually receive a response redirecting the user to Triumph’s official site or to their partners’ pages.
What could Triumph do to make this better? Setting up some trigger keywords in various languages could help the brand deliver a more personalized message for those fans who don’t speak English.
The second group of comments triggering auto-replies contains emojis. When a particular emoji is recognized in a comment (in the case below, it’s a “heart eyes” smiley face), the same emoji is sent back in response.
General help auto-comments
The third type of auto-comments used by Triumph collects comments in languages other than English. The comment below is in Spanish, and it is actually an expression of admiration. However, the brand doesn’t recognize it correctly, so they send back an auto-comment with a general question in English instead of replying in an appropriate manner.
While this can’t really be considered as a rude or negative reply, the response could instead be personalized to provide a better customer experience.
Of course, an offer to help in English may be a discrete indicator that customer service on Triumph’s Instagram is only available in English. However, in the year 2020, further personalization is no longer just warmly welcomed, it’s actually becoming a requirement.
Instagram automation best practices
Time to put some of this auto-comment knowledge and examples into practice.
Listen to real people
Take a look at the comments that your audience has already left under your Instagram posts. There is a chance that you’ll recognize some patterns and common queries: these are the starting points that you can address with social media marketing automation.
After gathering and categorizing these comments, put yourself in the shoes of your customers, and create a set of automatic responses that will address their common problems. Think about the relationship that you want to build with your followers and the tone of voice of your brand.
Prepare various answers
As we’ve already seen, coming up with several variations of automated responses can make your answers sound more natural. Play around with the creative copy and use emojis. Test out a few answers and compare the results and reactions they’re getting. Gradually add more options as you learn from your experience.
You can add some personal touches to your messages and find the sweet spot between customization and automation. Setting up more personalized auto-comment rules in NapoleonCat is simple: adding [@author] to your comment will automatically tag the particular Instagram user that you are replying to.
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Remember about the nature of Instagram posts
If you have already tried automatic responses on Facebook or Twitter, you may feel like saving some time and just copying what worked there. Don’t go down this path. Although some conclusions drawn from previous experiences are always helpful, remember that social media platforms differ from each other and each requires an individual approach.
The major difference between Instagram and Facebook or Twitter is the possibility to include links in your answers – this is not possible on Instagram. Avoid using links in automated replies – your followers won’t be able to click on them and might get annoyed with having to manually copy them (if they even have the will to do so, that is).
Don’t follow Instagram bot paths
Auto-commenting is definitely NOT about being spammy – it’s about improving the quality of your social customer service and bringing response times down. You should put effort into both preparing your response plan and later evaluating possible improvements.
Things can get messy
No matter how much time and effort you dedicate to setting up your auto-comments properly, there is always a chance of not getting them quite right. After all, even the smartest solutions won’t completely replace human reactions. Don’t let this discourage you, though. As soon as you recognize any mistake in your answers, take lead over the conversation. For future reference, analyze how you can avoid these misunderstandings.
Setting up smart auto-replies on Instagram with NapoleonCat’s Automoderation
With NapoleonCat’s Automoderation feature, you can archive, delete, flag, or answer comments customers leave on your Instagram profile. Using automated moderation, you can create custom reactions, e.g. auto-responses, to triggers, e.g. keywords used in specified comments (all comments, comments on specific posts), including those added to dark posts. The tool is available for Instagram Business Accounts.
Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up custom auto-moderation rules for Instagram.
Accessing the feature
- Sign into your NapoleonCat account and select a project you want to access
- Access the Inbox view through the sidebar
- Pick Automoderation in the top right corner
Creating a rule
- Select “Add new rule” in the top right corner of the pop-up
- Give your rule a name, e.g. “Instagram blog posts”
Setting up a trigger
- Select the page you want the rule to apply to from the dropdown menu (note that within the Instagram Automoderation tool, every individual paid campaign is listed as a separate page)
- Pick a trigger, i.e. the user action that will prompt the defined automatic action. The available triggers for Instagram are:
- comment – the rule applies to all comments on your Instagram account, featuring specified keywords
- comments for a specific post – the rule applies to all comments added to select posts, featuring specified keywords
Note: If you select comments for a specific post, the latest posts from the selected page or campaign will automatically populate the “Posts” section. Check as many as you want – the automoderation rule will apply to your selection.
- Finally, pick keywords that have to be used in the comments to trigger inbox action, e.g. you can set rules with swear words as keywords to flag offensive comments. If you don’t set up keywords, the rule will apply to all specified comments
Once you’ve specified your trigger, decide what automatic action it will set off. You can archive, delete, or flag comments that match your trigger settings. You can also automatically publish replies.
Here’s an example: if you’re a software producer and you offer a free trial to prospective customers, you can set an automoderation rule with “trial” as the trigger keyword. Your automatic reply can re-direct users to a sign-up form or a website with information about your product.
In order to avoid coming off as impersonal, randomize multiple replies and include usernames in your responses. The more random replies you add to your rule, the more natural the automated comments will seem.
Setting up a rule schedule
You can also specify when you want the rules to apply. If you have a social media or customer care team moderating comments in real-time during office hours, you can set up inbox actions that will only be triggered when your team is offline.
And that’s it! Your rule takes effect as soon as you save it. This means that automatic inbox actions will not be triggered by comments posted to your Instagram account before you created the rule.
Auto-comments on Instagram can help you make another step towards a more successful social media strategy. The benefits of smart automated moderations can truly improve your Instagram presence. Think improving customer engagement, providing a better customer experience, streamlining social customer service, and increasing your team’s productivity.
What’s more, implementing auto-comments is nothing difficult, especially if you do it with NapoleonCat. Time to get started!