Do prospects message your business on Instagram or Facebook? Wondering how to answer inbound inquiries quickly—even outside of business hours?
In this article, you’ll discover how to use automatic responses to connect instantly with your future customers on Instagram and Facebook.
Why Response Time to Inbound Inquiries Matters for Customer Acquisition on Facebook and Instagram
Does your team take several hours to respond to customer inquiries from social media channels? Or worse, do you have dozens of days-old messages still flagged for follow-up?
When customers take the time to message your business on Facebook or Instagram, it’s easy to assume that they’ll wait for your response before taking action. But that’s not a realistic approach, especially when the average customer has high expectations and tons of other options to consider.
Meeting Customer Expectations
Nearly 80% of customers expect to receive a response to social media inquiries within 24 hours. That timeframe might sound relatively reasonable until you consider that nearly 40% of customers expect a response within an hour.
If your team doesn’t consistently respond within 60 minutes, you certainly aren’t alone. Across social media platforms, businesses take an average of 5 hours to respond to customer inquiries.
There are plenty of reasons your team’s average response time could be 5 hours or more. Maybe you only have time to check your Meta Business Suite inbox a couple of times per day. Perhaps your team is only online during standard business hours.
But either way, it’s important to know that your approach may not meet customer expectations. As a result, you could end up with unhappy customers, decreased loyalty, or missed sales opportunities.
Capitalizing on Sales Opportunities
Some of the messages you receive on Facebook and Instagram might fall on the customer-service end of the spectrum. But when you receive inbound inquiries from potential (new or repeat) customers, the math completely changes.
Nearly 80% of leads end up buying from the company that replies to their message first. That means if your team waits 5 or more hours to respond, your company could miss out on a lot of potential sales.
So how quickly do you need to respond? You might be surprised at how little time you have to reply. Businesses that get back to prospects within 5 minutes are 100 times more likely to convert leads.
To capture more sales opportunities and improve customer acquisition, your team could set up a system to react to new message notifications and respond instantly. But if your team can’t provide around-the-clock coverage, Meta’s automatic responses can help.
Trust-Building With Your Target Audience
Being responsive to Facebook and Instagram inquiries can be a great way to establish credibility and build trust among prospects. If your team tends to reply to Facebook messages quickly, your page automatically displays a Very Responsive badge alongside a Send Message call to action (CTA), which may encourage more prospects to message you.
To ensure your team is responding within specific timeframes, you can also keep track of Facebook messaging metrics in Business Suite. To check yours, go to the Business Suite Insights panel and open the Messaging tab. Then scroll down to review your team’s response rate and response time.
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Although automating responses can certainly help improve customer acquisition and build trust, it’s important to note that these automations don’t contribute to your messaging performance metrics. That means it’s still important for your team to respond manually as efficiently as possible, especially if you want your page to display that badge.
6 Ways to Set Up Automated Responses on Instagram and Facebook
Concerned that you’re letting down loyal customers or losing more deals than you thought? Automatic responses can be an excellent solution to this problem and they’re remarkably easy to implement. Here’s how to use Business Suite and the Instagram app to automate responses.
#1: Set an Away Message
If your team responds to DMs promptly during the business day, set an automated away message to reply instantly after hours. To set one up, open Business Suite, navigate to your inbox, and click the Automations button in the upper-right corner. Click the Create Automations button and select Away Message.
Next, choose the channels (i.e., Messenger and/or Instagram) where you want to deliver the message. Set the hours when you want to automate the away message (i.e., when your team is away). Note that you can also set your inbox to Away manually.
Then write your away message. Since anyone who sends you a DM while you’re away will see the message, make sure it’s relevant to as many people as possible. Adding bullet points for common issues can give users the information they need efficiently.
If your top priority is capturing sales opportunities, include information targeted to warm leads at the very beginning of the message. Rather than making them wait until the next business day, give them a way to take the next step in their buyer’s journey.
For example, if leads tend to ask about cost, you might include a link to a pricing comparison page. If your business offers product demonstrations or free trials, point them to the signup page. If your company sells products in retail stores or in an eCommerce store, direct them to where they can start shopping instantly.
It’s also helpful to indicate exactly when prospects can expect to hear back from your team. Then make sure to deliver on your promise. It can go a long way toward building trust.
To make your away message sound a little more personal, click the star button to insert customer names automatically. Then click the Preview in Messenger button to see exactly how the message will look to your customers and double-check the links.
#2: Add an Instant Reply
The biggest benefit of away messages is that they automatically turn on when your team isn’t online. That means everyone gets a response with crucial details if they message your business after-hours.
But what if you want to buy your team some time during normal business hours? With an instant reply, you can respond right away to any first-time message. This feature is great for connecting with prospects who’ve never reached out to you before. But keep in mind that it won’t work for responding to prospects who’ve already started a conversation.
To set up this feature, follow the steps below to find Instant Reply in the automations menu. Choose to display the message in Messenger, Instagram, or both. Then use the 500-character limit to write a message.
You could simply copy and paste your away message and tweak the timing. But if your team typically responds to messages within an hour, you may not need to provide such a long list of resources. Instead, give time-sensitive prospects an easy way to keep moving forward along their buyer’s journey. Then take care to follow up promptly.
#3: Share Contact Details
Have you noticed any common themes in your Facebook and Instagram messages? If most customers simply want your store address, open hours, or direct email address, Business Suite gives you an easy way to automate your replies. The only catch is that these automations work in Messenger only.
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To set up these automations, look for the Contact Information, Location, and Hours options in Business Suite. Note that all three of these options let you add a button with a URL at the bottom of the message. Business Suite automatically fills in your Facebook page URL, which is helpful if your page already lists relevant contact details or hours.
You also have the option to add a URL manually. So if your open hours vary or if you have constantly changing pop-up locations, you can direct customers to a different URL with the most current information.
#4: Create Frequently Asked Questions
Do prospects’ most common questions go beyond basic contact details? With frequently asked questions, you can create a sort of self-service knowledge bank using any combination of questions and answers.
You can set up frequently asked questions for your Facebook page and Instagram profile. But you’ll need to use Business Suite and the Instagram app to incorporate both channels.
Frequently Asked Questions for Facebook
To display frequently asked questions in Messenger, set them up in Business Suite. Select the Frequently Asked Questions template, add a new entry, and then write a custom question and answer. You can also add media or interactive buttons to frequently asked questions, which can help prospects view valuable resources.
Make sure to toggle on the Add to Menu switch so the question appears in the list of frequently asked questions. You can toggle questions on and off depending on seasonality, customer trends, and other factors.
Not sure which questions and answers to add? Scroll through the messages you’ve received over the last 60 or 90 days and make note of the most common questions. Alternatively, review message threads with prospects who ended up converting and reuse the questions they asked before making a purchase.
Note that people messaging your Facebook page for the first time will automatically see a frequently asked questions menu in Messenger. Anyone who has an ongoing conversation with your business can click to open the menu in Messenger and select a question but the list won’t be as obvious.
Frequently Asked Questions for Instagram
Once you’ve added all of your frequently asked questions in Business Suite, open the Instagram app and navigate to your account’s business settings. Select Frequently Asked Questions and make sure the Show Questions option is switched on.
To use the same frequently asked questions from your Facebook page, tap the Import Questions option. Then select up to four questions to import to Instagram. Note that any questions you import will replace any that you’ve set up manually in the app.
If your imported questions include interactive buttons, note that they won’t carry over to Instagram. You’ll need to add URLs and CTAs manually.
Does your Instagram audience fit a different customer profile or ask different kinds of questions? You don’t necessarily have to reuse questions from Facebook. Instead, tap Add Question to set up custom frequently asked questions for Instagram.
It’s important to note that Instagram users only see your frequently asked questions when they’re starting a conversation with your business for the first time. If you already have an active conversation with them in DMs, they won’t see your frequently asked questions.
#5: Build Custom Automations
All of the automation options above are available as templates in Business Suite and Instagram. That means they’re easy to set up and require little or no configuration. If you need something more advanced, however, you can create a customized workflow.
In Business Suite, go to the inbox panel and select Automations. Instead of picking a template, click the Start From Scratch button. Then build the ideal automation for your inbound inquiries.
Automating messages with specific labels is a good place to start. First, you’ll need to establish a labeling system with your team. For example, you might use a Prospects label for people who express an interest in your product or service. A potential customer who is ready to buy might get a High-Intent Prospect label.
Note that you’ll need to apply custom labels manually. In some cases—like when a user books an appointment on your page—Business Suite automatically adds Meta-created labels to inbox conversations.
Next, set up a custom automation based on your labeling system. Choose Label Is Added as the primary condition. Then select the labels that should trigger the automation. To avoid overwhelming warm leads with messages, set a timeframe for your response. For example, you may want to follow up after 6, 12, or 24 hours of inactivity.
You can also use Business Suite’s message status feature to optimize your automation. If you use the platform’s Follow Up option to keep track of important active messages, you can add this status as another condition in your automation.
For the action, choose Send Message. Then write a follow-up message that’s designed to keep moving prospects forward. Connect with your sales team to get the language right so you can successfully convert prospects into new customers.
#6: Respond to Select Comments
In many cases, warm leads will message your business to start or continue a conversation. But what if they comment on one of your page’s posts instead? While you can’t automatically respond to every comment using Meta’s built-in tools, you can send DMs based on comments with specific keywords.
Open your Business Suite inbox automations and select the Custom Keywords option. Then enter up to five keywords or phrases to trigger the automation. For example, you can create an automation for prospects who comment with pricing-related questions.
Then you can write a message that directs warm leads to pricing details. In some cases, you may be able to add all of the necessary information in the message itself. But you can add interactive buttons to prompt potential customers to visit your website.
Want to give prospects multiple options for taking the next step? Add multiple interactive buttons so potential customers can choose the one that best meets their needs.
With automated responses, you can streamline your organization’s Facebook and Instagram inboxes and help your team respond to inbound inquiries more efficiently. By replying quicker and providing relevant information automatically, you can connect with more customers and win more sales. Use the tips above to improve your digital marketing efforts and reduce customer acquisition costs.
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