Staring at your phone’s tiny screen and typing on its tiny keys to reply to each Instagram DM you receive is not the most efficient way to interact with your customers.

But those days are over.

As of April 2020, any Instagram user in the world can send an Instagram DM online, from their PC or Mac, as well as from their phone.

Now, your brand now has more options when replying to Instagram DMs. And considering more than 200 million users visit at least one business profile each day, there’s a good chance some Instagram users will reach out to your brand directly via DM.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What “Instagram DM” even means
  • How to DM on Instagram on your computer
  • How to DM on Instagram on your phone
  • How to delete and hide Instagram DMs
  • Tips for writing great messages

Let’s get started.

Bonus: Save time and download 20 free, customizable Instagram DM templates for your brand, including greetings, partnership requests, FAQ responses, replies to complaints, and more.

What does “DM” mean on Instagram?

DM means direct messaging.

On Instagram, DMs are private messages between one Instagram user and another user, or group of users.

Instagram DMs don’t show up in your brand’s feed, profile or in search. And they won’t for your followers, either. Only you and those you are communicating with can see the direct messages.

On Instagram, DMs are sent by Instagram Direct. Think of this as an email inbox where private messages are collected.

On both desktop and mobile, access Instagram Direct to see your Instagram DMs by clicking on the paper airplane icon.

Instagram Direct paper plane icon

When you see a red numbered notification over the paper airplane icon, you’ll know there’s an unread DM to be read.

Unread Instagram DM red icon

How to send Instagram DMs from your computer (PC or Mac)

Anyone can create or reply to Instagram DMs from their desktop, without any special downloads or features. This makes it easier for your brand to respond to an influx or high volume of DMs.

Whether you’re replying to an Instagram DM on a PC or creating an Instagram DM on a Mac, the process is the same:

1. Log into your brand’s Instagram account

Log in to using whichever web browser you prefer. There is no specific Instagram DM browser to use.

2. Click on the paper airplane icon

To navigate to Instagram Direct, click on the paper airplane icon in the web page’s top right hand corner.

Instagram Direct paper plane icon top right hand corner

3. See all your Instagram DMs

All your brand’s direct messages and interactions show here. Unread direct messages will show first in the list.

You’ll also see the option to create a new DM. Click on the blue Send Message button to begin a new interaction.

Your Messages folder

Type in a user’s handle to begin a new one-on-one interaction. You can message any brand or user that you follow.

Or create a group for an Instagram DM. On Instagram Direct, you can send DMs to up to 32 people.

From your desktop, you can also like, copy or report a DM by clicking on the three buttons next to the Instagram DM.

Like Copy Report Instagram DM

4. Send other users’ content

As well as written messages, Instagram DMs can include photos, polls, GIFs, Instagram Stories and IGTV clips. Your brand might want to interact with users by sharing other users’ content in a DM.

Navigate to the photo, video or IGTV you want to share privately. Click on the paper airplane icon under that post.

Share other users' content in a DM

Then, select how you want to share that content.

Share content options

By clicking on Share to Direct, you can type in the Instagram user you want to send the content to directly via Instagram DM.

How to send Instagram DMs from the app

Sending Instagram DMs from the Instagram app is just as easy:

1. Open the app on your phone

Download the Instagram app from the App Store or Google Play.

2. Click on the paper airplane icon

This will open all your Instagram DMs.

Instagram DMs mobile app

3. Engage with your users

Reply to customers’ queries by tapping on the unread message and writing a response in the Message bar.

Engage with users by responding to DMs

And just like on desktop, you can choose one-on-one DMs or send to a group of up to 32.

4. Share others’ content

Any time you see the paper airplane icon, click on it to send that content privately.

Bonus: Save time and download 20 free, customizable Instagram DM templates for your brand, including greetings, partnership requests, FAQ responses, replies to complaints, and more.

Download now

Share content privately

How to delete Instagram DMs

Depending on your brand’s social media policy, you may want to delete Instagram DMs.

To delete Instagram DMs from your PC or Mac:

1. Navigate to Instagram Direct

Click on the paper airplane icon in the top navigation bar.

2. Click on the communication you want to delete

Then click on the information icon by the user’s profile picture.

3. Click Delete Chat

That will bring up this screen:

Delete Chat screen

Then, you can choose to Delete Chat. This will only delete the conversation for you. It will still be visible for the others included in the conversation.

Also under the “Details” section, there is also the option to Block, Report or Mute Messages. Muting simply means you won’t get notifications for new incoming DMs for this conversation.

To delete Instagram DMs using the mobile app:

1. Navigate to Instagram Direct

Click on the paper airplane icon in the navigation bar.

2. Swipe or hold the communication thread you want to delete

If you’re using iOS, swipe left on the message you want to delete. If you’re using Android, press and hold the thread you want to delete.

This brings up two options. Mute the message to stop seeing new notifications for this thread. Or delete the message.

Mute or delete Instagram message from mobile app

3. Click Delete

This action will only delete the conversation for you.

8 best practices for sending and responding to Instagram DMs

Engaging with your customers and responding to Instagram DMs is just one way to effectively use Instagram for business and gain more Instagram followers.

Here are some essential tips to keep in mind.

Set up notifications for Instagram DMs

Make sure your brand sees all the new, incoming Instagram DMs that it receives.

On both desktop and mobile, navigate to Settings. Choose Notifications (or Push Notifications if you’re on desktop).

Then under Direct Messages, make sure the From Everyone (if you’re working on desktop) options are selected.

Set up notifications for Instagram DMs

And make sure all the On (if you’re working on mobile) options are selected. This will ensure your brand sees all its new incoming DMs.

Set up notifications for Instagram DMs mobile

Use Instagram Quick Replies

Chances are, your brand is going to get a lot of similar questions over Instagram Direct. Instead of typing out the same reply, save time by making the most of the Instagram Quick Replies feature.

Set up a Creator Account with Instagram. Not only will this enable the Quick Replies feature, it will provide more options for organizing and managing your Instagram DMs, like the two-tab inbox.

Find Quick Replies as an option under Settings. To create a Quick Reply:

  • Click on the “+” button in the top right hand corner.
  • Type out a reply to a commonly asked question.
  • Choose a one-word keyboard shortcut for that message.

When replying to an Instagram DM, type the one word into Instagram Direct. Click the blue “Insert a quick reply” button” and the full response you’ve saved will autofill.

Acknowledge when a new message has been received

That way, even if your team isn’t able to respond to the direct message immediately, your customer isn’t met with silence.

You might:

  • Thank the customer for getting in touch.
  • Let them know their message has been received.
  • Set an expectation for how long it will take the team to get to their query.

This helps foster a relationship between the user and your brand. It also boosts customer service, setting expectations for when that customer can expect a conversation with your brand.

Then follow up promptly

Don’t leave your customers hanging!

And the faster your brand can reply, the better. According to the analysis and advisory firm Convince & Convert, 42% of customers who complain to a company over social media expect a response within 60 minutes.

Waiting too long to reply to a customer could result in them losing trust in your brand.

Write in your brand voice

Whatever your brand’s tone, be sure to use that same voice in your Instagram DMs.

Remember to:

  • Be authentic and personable. Show your customer they’re interacting with a real person who cares about their experience with your brand.
  • Don’t use jargon. Avoid using these words and phrases.
  • Make sure communication is easy to understand. Irony, sarcasm and jokes might be misinterpreted by the reader or cause offence. Leave no room for misinterpretation.

Make sure there are no spelling mistakes

Make sure your writing reflects your brand in a professional way.

Check for typos, spelling mistakes and grammar errors. Read over your DM for flow. And if your company manages multiple brands and has multiple Instagram accounts, make sure you’re working with the right account.

Keep your writing short and sweet

If someone is reaching out to your brand directly, they want an answer quickly. So avoid the chit-chat. Get right to it.

Address your customers’ DM right away. Write in a way that is easy to read. Write short sentences.

And don’t fear short paragraphs.

Doing all this makes it easier for customers to find the answer to their query.

Don’t forget to sign off

Finally, bring closure to the conversation by:

  • Asking the customer if there’s anything else they need help with.
  • Thanking them for their business or loyalty to your company.
  • Wishing them a great day.

Closing off is a personable way to communicate, but also ensures your customer doesn’t feel snubbed or shut down before the conversation is over.

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