Instagram is the primary marketing tool for many e-commerce brands, and companies are constantly trying to optimize all aspects of the app. They think about how to build grid posts, create Stories, and host Lives that bring in as much of their audience as possible.
But just as brands need a sophisticated posting strategy, many forget to build out their commenting strategy. That is a major oversight. If approached correctly, comments can help you get more exposure on your posts, build tighter relationships with customers, and discover insights about how people react to your brand or your products.
Here are some ways brands should be using the Instagram comments.
The comments section of a popular Instagram post is prime digital real estate, and some brands have gotten into the habit of leaving comments in order to get seen by a wide audience. Go to the comments under, for instance, a Taylor Swift post on Instagram, and you’ll see a flood of brands offering their support. The double-edged sword of this strategy is that brands commenting on other people’s posts has become so common on Instagram that it can verge on annoying. But that is largely true for comments that seem to exist purely to promote a company—if you have something genuine to say, leaving a comment on an interesting or relevant post can be a great way to get your brand name in front of an entirely different audience than your own.
Small- and mid-sized brands have to stick together, and some have taken to spreading love in the comments section of other companies, especially when those companies are in slightly related—but not directly competing—fields. In the comments for the essential oils brand Vitruvi, for instance, you can see other small companies, including the sustainable fabric brand Aday and the skincare brand ILIA, leaving little messages of support.
While the Instagram comments should not be taken as a truly representative sample of all of your customers, your comments section still has a lot of insights to offer about your products. If you pay attention to trends in the Instagram comments, you can learn more about, for instance, what misconceptions your followers might have about your products, which types of questions you get most frequently, and which marketing messages seem to resonate the most with your audience.
While some brands are good about commenting on other people’s posts in order to increase their exposure, many let their own comments section languish. This is a mistake. Brands should be actively engaging with their customers, whether that means making funny quips or addressing questions about out-of-stock items. The luggage brand Away, for instance, is very active about replying to its top comments. Away responds to everything from questions about whether the company recently raised its prices to issues with shipments arriving late. When you do leave comments, you also have to hop in the replies quickly: according to one recent survey, 90% of millennials said they expect brands to answer comments within a day, and a full 44% wanted replies within an hour. If those expectations feel difficult to meet, you should turn to a service like Chatdesk Teams, which offers flexible customer support teams who respond to customer comments quickly, including on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and more.
Replying to the Instagram comments is important, but remember there are limits. Instagram caps off its comments at a max of 2,200 characters. While that’s plenty of room to address a very specific question—say, someone wants to know if a shirt you’re featuring comes in a certain color, or whether an out-of-stock product will be returning to your website—anything demanding a more complicated response will be harder to resolve. That’s why brands should have other resources for their customers directly on Instagram, which they can point commenters to when relevant. Because you can’t post a link in the comments on Instagram, it’s worth answering some common questions in the Stories Highlights section on Instagram, which are the Instagram Stories that brands can pin to the top of their profile. If someone comments asking about your return policy, for instance, you can easily point them to the Stories Highlight on your profile that outlines your return policy.
As Instagram itself outlined at the end of 2021, one of the key metrics it uses in deciding whether or not to display your Instagram post to someone is whether or not that person has recently interacted with your posts. Interactions include likes and comments—which means that if your comments section feels like a friendly place for customers to go, then you are certain to see higher engagement on your posts. That, in turn, means more people will see your posts.