INSTAGRAM CHATBOTS FOR DM CONVERSATIONS: THEY…still don’t exist. Facebook hasn’t announced any plans for bringing chatbots to the ‘gram yet. However, they DID recently introduce Instagram Direct: a new destination in Ads Manager that pushes people to your business’s direct-message inbox on IG.

You’ll have to manually respond to messages you get this way, yes. But it gives your brand a unique opportunity to experiment with conversational commerce on another hugely popular social platform. Use this chance to get more chat interactions with users in a new place and see where it takes you!

So today, we’ll be covering the ins and outs of this ad type—plus another similar one you may find useful. Read on to learn about setting up:

  1. Instagram Direct ads
  2. Instagram ads that click to your Messenger bot
Setup of Instagram Direct ads can be done right in Ads Manager.

#1. Instagram Direct ads

Instagram Direct is an ad placement for the Instagram feed. When a user clicks this type of ad, they’ll be sent to your direct-message inbox where they can start a one-on-one conversation with your brand.

Learn more about placements for Instagram Direct ads in the "How to Set Up Instagram Direct Ads" section below.

Who should run Instagram Direct ads

Of course, anyone who wants to get their content in front of Instagram’s 1 billion+ users can try out Instagram Direct ads. We see them being especially effective for ecommerce businesses on Instagram, and agencies that work with ecommerce brands.

We also expect that those selling big-ticket items online might find more value from this ad type, at least at first. Why? Because:

  1. The number of users messaging you with serious inquiries will be lower, and so more manageable for you to manually respond to. 👩🏻‍💻
  2. However, these users who do engage with an IG Direct ad will likely be more valuable, because messaging you about a big-ticket product or service shows higher intent. Once they reach out, you’re in a prime position to personally nurture them towards a purchase. 💰

How to set up Instagram Direct ads:

The beauty of Facebook owning Instagram is that you can set up ads for both platforms all in one place: Facebook Ads Manager. Head there to get started. Then:

  1. Create a new ad with Messages as the Consideration.
  2. Under Message Destination, choose Instagram Direct.
  3. Select the proper targeting for your unique business in the Audience section.
  4. When it comes to Placements, we recommend sticking with Facebook’s automatic placements.

💡 Note: Instagram Direct ads won’t appear anywhere on Facebook—just in Instagram feeds and Stories. That way, those who click will arrive at your DMs without having to switch apps.

5.    Select your desired ad spend and timing in the Budget & Schedule section.

6.    Next, you’ll need to connect your business Instagram account in the Identity section.

💡 Note: To run other types of Instagram ads (like those that lead to landing pages), Facebook doesn’t require you to have an actual Instagram account. They’ll just use your Facebook page name and profile photo to make it look like you do. But since Instagram Direct ads will lead users to your DMs, you need an actual account to have an inbox and respond.

7.   Finally, select and fine-tune your ad creative as desired in the Format section.

💡 Note: As we mentioned, Instagram chatbots don’t exist at this time. So you can’t automate any part of your DMs, even a welcome message. (You can create "quick replies" to common questions, but you still have to manually send them.) That means your ad creative should include a call to action that gets users to message you when they arrive at a blank screen in your DMs. Even something as simple as Message us YES to learn more! might do the trick. Experiment and see what gives you the best results.

#2. Click-to-Messenger ads for Instagram

You’ve likely explored or currently use click-to-Messenger ads to bring new users to your chatbot: meaning, ads that show up on Facebook and direct users to your bot in Messenger. 🤖

Now, there is a way to have these ads show up in Instagram instead, and still direct users to your Messenger chatbot. But we encourage you to start with a smaller budget (maybe $5-15/day) to see how these work for your business, because:

➡️ Automatically redirecting users from the Instagram app to the separate Messenger app can be jarring. You might see significant drop-off as a result. Yes, click-to-Messenger ads redirect to the Messenger app too. But both of those apps are clearly within the Facebook ecosystem, so it’s less unexpected. Not every user is actively aware that Facebook owns Instagram, so they may think the app switch is a mistake or spam and exit the entire process.

You can set up Instagram ads that lead to your bot in Messenger.

Who should run click-to-Messenger ads on Instagram

These ads will be most useful if both of the following are true:

  • You’ve built a Messenger bot that can effectively engage and convert users.(Otherwise, of course, there’s no sense in paying to send new users there.)
  • You (or your client, if you’re an agency) offer something that’s appealing to the Instagram audience, which is a predominantly younger demographic. If not, focusing on Facebook ad placements may be more effective.

How to set up click-to-Messenger ads for Instagram

  1. In Facebook Ads Manager, create a new ad with Messages as the Consideration.
  2. Under Message Destination, choose Messenger and keep Click to Messenger selected.
  3. Choose the proper targeting for your unique business in the Audience section.
  4. Now, on to Placements. First, deselect the Facebook and Messenger placements. Then, decide where on Instagram you want your ad to show. We suggest Instagram Feed.
  5. Select your desired ad spend and timing in the Budget & Schedule section.
  6. Next, move on to the Identity section and connect your business Instagram account if you have one. However, note that in this case, it’s not required. Facebook will still let you run these particular ads on Instagram without an account there.
  7. Select and fine-tune your ad creative as desired in the Format section.
  8. The last step is to link your bot in the Messenger Setup section. Choose the Start conversations module, then click Create chat. Then:
  • Customize the Greeting text, which is the first thing users will see when they arrive at Messenger from Instagram. Make sure it relates to the content of your ad creative so people know they’re in the right place after the app switch. The question should also encourage users to respond by choosing one of the buttons. You can add the response options as buttons or quick replies.👇
  • Change the Customer Actions to buttons. (The FAQs option only lets you provide text responses, but buttons will allow you to link to blocks in your bot. And why buttons instead of quick replies? Sometimes quick replies don’t show up on certain devices, so buttons are usually the safer option.) No need to customize them at this stage, though. You'll do that in Chatfuel next.
  • Confirm and submit your ad. Then, sign into Chatfuel in another tab. Create corresponding bot blocks for each possible answer to the opening question.
  • Next, head to the Grow tab in Chatfuel and locate the Facebook Messenger Adssection. Select your ad account and grant permissions in the pop-up window.
  • Click Connect new ads. Select your campaign from the drop-down, then choose the specific ad you want to use from that campaign (the one you just created in Ads Manager).
  • Finally, set up your quick replies or buttons in Chatfuel. You'll also need choose the bot blocks (the ones you just created) you want each one to link to.
  • Hit Save. The ad and its metrics will now appear right there in Chatfuel.

💡 Note: Rest easy! Facebook is looking out for you and your ROI. 🙏🏻 They’ll only serve these ads to people who have Messenger installed. They won’t waste any of your ad spend by showing them to users who don’t already have the app on their device.

Again, how well click-to-Messenger ads on Instagram perform depends on your brand and many other factors, so they’re worth experimenting with. Try A/B testing in your chatbot or split testing your ads to see how you can improve ROAS. You may also consider other tools to help you monitor bot performance (like inline stats), or help boost ecommerce sales (like our Cart Reminders app for Shopify).

Tap into a new audience on Instagram

Facebook said it: “Conversation is the future of commerce.” Personalized, one-on-one chat experiences are what customers now expect from brands.

  • Click-to-Messenger ads for Instagram let you apply this strategy at scale.
  • Instagram Direct ads let you experiment with conversational commerce on a new platform.

Run some tests and see how both ad types can benefit your ecommerce business or your agency’s clients.

Share your results or questions in our Facebook community, which is full of bot-builders like you from around the globe. Then, learn more about how ecommerce businesses and marketing agencies alike can use Chatfuel to boost engagement and increase sales. Happy botting! 🤖