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How to Grow your Business using Instagram Direct Messages

Instagram DMs (direct messages) is a super-effective marketing strategy and grow your business if done correctly.

However, many people fail to utilize it correctly.

Here’s the reality – you might spend hours of your time direct-messaging a bunch of people. But if you don’t provide any sort of value, your response/conversion rate will turn out to be extremely low.

Now, you might be wondering, how am I supposed to provide value?

To answer that question, you should put yourself in a customer’s perspective. If someone randomly direct-messages you without any context prompting you to purchase their product/service, would you?

This spurs up a few more questions. How am I supposed to add context, find potential customers or find someone that will be interested in my product/service?

Fret not, because in this article, I will answer all these questions.

By the end of this article, you should be able to know exactly how you can provide value and how you can find potential users to direct message.

Let’s begin.

Table of Contents

How to send a direct message

5 golden rules

Step-by-Step Guide to Grow your Business using Instagram Direct Messages

Joining follow for follow communities

Direct messages as customer service

Direct message templates

How to Grow your Business using Instagram Direct Messages: Do’s and Don’ts

General FAQ


How to send a direct message

How do you utilize Instagram direct messages to grow your business?

Firstly, you’ll need to know how to send a direct message on Instagram.

There are two parts to this:

1. How to send a direct message to a public account.

2. How to send a direct message to a private account.

It may seem pretty straightforward, but many people are unaware of this especially sending messages to a private account.

This is because the direct message option is hidden in plain sight if you’re trying to message a private account.

1. How to send a direct message to a public account

All public accounts have a message option on their profile.

Simply tap on the message button to send a direct message.

2. How to send a direct message to a private account.

Sending a direct message to a private account can be a little complicated. This is because the message button is hidden from plain sight.

Firstly, tap on the triple dots on the top right hand corner of the profile.

Then, tap on send message and you’re good to go!

Grow your Business using Instagram Direct Messages: 5 golden rules

Here are 5 golden rules that you’ll have to keep in mind before direct messaging others.

1. Avoid cold Instagram direct messages.

You should never randomly or cold direct-message users.

Imagine if you’re the ‘victim’ receiving unsolicited direct messages. It’s annoying, seems like spam and you’re most likely not going to be getting any value out of it.

A huge majority of buyers do not value or respond to cold messages which is the main reason why the tactic does not work.

Instead, you need to find Instagram handles of people that might actually find value in your product/service. 

In other words, you need to target segments of people who might want or need the product/service you’re offering right now.

Send personalized direct messages to establish trust, value, and convenience.

Sending personalized direct messages is the go-to move.

This is because it attracts more attention and relevance as compared to a cold message.

But how exactly do you find potential users to direct message? I’ll be covering this later in the article, so stick around.

2. Find and research your target audience first.

The goal of Instagram direct messages is to bring in the right traffic and grow your business. These are people that are likely to become customers or long term users.

Thus, to be able to accomplish this, you need to know who your target audience is.

What are their priorities, troubles, and interests? What kind of problems do they have that your product or service will solve?

These are the kind of questions you’ll need to be asking yourself.

That being said, finding Instagram handles of people who might want or need your product/service right now is incredibly challenging.

If you go with the long route, you’ll have to conduct tons of hashtag research and target people with a small to medium following. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to reach out to your existing follower-base.

After all, cold direct messages are incredibly awkward and most people will end up deleting it.

The key here is to establish an affinity with whoever you’re targeting. That way you wouldn’t seem abrasive.

3. Provide value

Always provide value before ‘selling’.

Don’t ask for something without giving anything in return or providing some sort of value first. It just decreases your chances of scoring a conversion.

There are a number of ways you can do to increase your direct message response rate.

Firstly, you’ll need to capture a person’s attention. You can do so by following the person and constantly engage in their posts for a reasonable period of time.

A more instantaneous way is to like 3–6 of a user’s posts and follow them before actually sending a direct message. That way, you’re more likely to get their attention.

Or, you can offer something for free. Everyone loves free stuff.

Moreover, when you offer something for free, the person is more willing to pay attention to what you’re saying. This is because you’ve established trust by doing so.

Value can also go beyond free stuff.

It’s about finding out what exactly your customers want and the ability to give it to them.

It could be educating your audience, providing them with tips and tricks or making their lives easier.

Once you’re able to find it, people will be interested.

4. Do not spam your direct messages.

Never send direct messages repetitively or you will be action blocked.

In the past, Instagram used to very little to zero restrictions on the number of actions you could carry out at one go (like, follow, direct message, etc.).

However, if you want to use direct messages as part of your marketing strategy in the present, you’ll need to be very meticulous about it.

Write personalized direct messages for people and send them out it intervals to prevent being action blocked.

You might be thinking that the more direct messages you send per day, the higher your response rate.

Although that’s true; here’s what you’re going to end up with:

  1. You whip out your phone and repetitively copy-paste a ton of messages and send them to various people.
  2. A couple of minutes later, you’re action blocked.
  3. You’re unable to send any more direct messages for the day.

This means that sending 100-500 messages a day is impossible. You should totally eradicate that goal unless you’re willing to give up sleep.

Instagram’s algorithm will detect consecutive direct messages and you’ll be action blocked from sending them. This will be a huge obstruction to your direct messaging efforts.

At the end of the day, Instagram hopes to minimize spam.

5. Target a smaller group of people

Instead of sending a ton of direct messages to multiple people, you should target a smaller group of people per day.

When it comes to direct messages, you should focus on quality instead of quantity.

Sending 10-20 direct messages to targeted people (who cares about what you’re offering) is far better than sending 50 to a bunch of random people.

In that sense, the more people you message doesn’t imply that you’re going to see more results.

Ultimately, you should direct message targeted people in intervals of 5-10 minutes to prevent being action blocked.

After weeks of research, I found out that direct messaging in an interval of 10 minutes works the best and totally mitigates being blocked.

To read more about how to prevent the action block and fix it (if you happened to get it), feel free to read this article: https://www.followchain.org/fix-and-prevent-instagram-action-block/.

Step-by-Step Guide to Grow your Business using Instagram Direct Messages

Enough with the basics. Let’s get down to business.

This guide is pretty technical, so pay close attention.

The end goal of this guide is to network, grow your followers and get more conversions.

1. Find potential users to direct message

Your first step is to find potential users to direct message. You’ll have to find and target users who you can deliver value to which is a challenge for most people.

So, how exactly can you accomplish that?

Just a heads up – in this guide; I’ll not be incorporating any hashtag research.

Instead, I’ll be utilizing two communities – Reddit (r/Instagram, r/Followback) and Followchain.

In a nutshell, these are follow for follow communities which serve as a middleman where you can easily break the ice with people.

This allows you to mitigate cold direct messages entirely.

If you want to learn more about the follow for follow strategy, feel free to read this article: https://www.followchain.org/follow-for-follow-on-instagram-the-ultimate-guide/.

Basically, follow for follow communities are places where you can self-promote your Instagram handle.

Which is apparent why I’m going to be utilizing them for this method.

2. Head over to followchain.org

Before I dive into this, here’s a quick explanation on how this community helps:

Followchain is a community where you can easily discover people in your niche and reach out to them with ease.

Thus, you can easily find people to direct message and grow your business in no time.

Go to followchain.org and create an account if you haven’t already.

You can either connect with Facebook or register from scratch.

After you’ve registered, a verification code will be sent to your email. Check your junk/spam mail if you haven’t received it in your inbox.

Firstly, you’ll notice a long list of posts in the main feed. The feed is where users share their Instagram handle and explain themselves and the content they post.

Hence, it’s a great way where you can find users to network with.

Using the above post as an example, the user shared his Instagram handle and a short description about the content he posts.

Since you know the user’s niche and Instagram handle, it’s time to make your move.

3. Like 3-6 of the user’s posts

Before direct messaging the user, a good tip is to like 3-6 of the user’s posts. It’s an easy way to grab the user’s attention.

Liking a user’s posts beforehand indicates that you’re not a ghost follower and will actually engage on their posts. Thus, they will be more likely to follow you back.

4. Time to send a direct message.

Now it’s time to send a direct message.

The key to your direct message is to state where you were referred from. In this case, you’ll need to tell the user that you came from Followchain.

This direct message; along with showing some love on their posts preemptively would almost guarantee you a follow back every time.

Unlike a cold direct message, both parties are referred from the same site. This makes it much easier to establish a mutual connection.

By stating that you came from Followchain in your direct message, you’ve already broken the ice.

5. Call to action

Now that you’ve broken the ice, it’s time to send a call to action.

The point of the call to action is to provide the user with value and not blatantly prompt them ‘buy’ something.

After all, the choice solely lies in the user. So you’ll have to provide as much value as possible to build a foundation with the person first.

Offer something free or educational. It tends to do the trick.

Join multiple follow for follow communities

Use multiple follow for follow communities as a middleman for networking in Instagram.

Followchain is not the only follow for follow community on the web, but it’s the only dedicated site. There are lots of other communities you can utilize.

The most effective way you can grow your business using Instagram direct message is to leverage every follow for follow community existing on the web.

That way you can quadriple your results.

Here are a couple more communities you can utilize that are in Reddit:

r/Instagram – Follow Friday


Basically this is a weekly thread dedicated to expanding your follower base and find new people/content.

Just leave your Instagram username below and if you want accompany it with a little description of what you do.

There will be a “Share Your Photo Saturday” fortnightly as well!



Hello and welcome to r/Followback

* This subreddit is a place for users to post their social media links (professional or personal) in order to gain followers; with the intention for the OP to follow back.

You can find the full list of follow for follow communities here: https://www.followchain.org/list-of-instagram-follow-for-follow-groups/.

Now that you’re aware of these communities, make sure to utilize the same guide to network and grow your followers.

However, you’ll have to bear in mind that this strategy is not an easy task.

You can’t just direct message five people and expect to see exceptional results. Moreover, it’s impossible to message a hundred people a day because you’ll be action blocked.

You need to find a balance, dedicate a part of your day and message people in intervals.

Minimally, you should aim to message at least 10-20 people per day. Do this daily for an hour or more and you will see results pouring in.

Direct messages as customer service

Direct messaging forges a seamless customer experience.

If you want to grow your business on Instagram, utilizing Instagram direct messages for customer service is a great idea.

This is because almost 500 million people use Instagram per day and it provides added convenience from a tap of a button.

Instagram direct messages work incredibly well because it has added privacy, speed and experience.

Here’s a quick tip:

You can use Instagram’s Quick Replies to respond instantly to the questions you receive most often.

Since the introduction of quick replies a few years ago, you can now send replies more efficiently.

Speed is the key to improve engagement and communication with your customers.

Quick replies enable you to do just that.

To enable quick replies, simply navigate to Menu > Settings > Business > Quick Replies > New Quick Reply.

Ways you can utilize Instagram Quick Replies

There are multiple ways you can utilize Instagram quick replies.

Firstly, quick replies are really helpful if you receive the same questions multiple times and you want an efficient way to respond to them.

Secondly, you can use Instagram quick replies to run an Instagram Giveaway.

For instance, you can make a quick reply that explains all the rules of your giveaway.

Then, when someone asks about your giveaway, simply add it to your message by entering your shortcut and tapping the Quick Replies button.

Thirdly, you can use Instagram quick replies to engage with your followers.

For a start, you should always try your best to respond to every single direct message you receive.

It’s a form of etiquette that builds rapport and trust in the long run. Moreover, this shows that you actually care about your followers.

Direct messages are one of the best forms of online communication because you’re able to communicate with your audience on a personal level.

Email – although convenient, lacks speed and intimacy.

Direct message templates

Want to grow your business using Instagram direct messages but have no clue on what to send?

This section contains direct message templates you can use for your introductions.

Here’s the general idea:

Whenever someone follows you, you can send them a quick message thanking them for the follow, and then introducing your business, provide them with an offer/discount codes or tell them what you’re offering.

Discount templates

Template #1:  “Hey, thanks for the follow! Just want to inform you that our entire store is 15% off currently. Just use code x at checkout.”

Template #2: “Hi, thanks for following! We have free shipping for orders starting from $50. To order, visit our website at x.”

Promotion templates

Template #3: “Hey, thanks for following! If you’re interested in our products/services, feel free to visit our website at x.”

Template #4: “Hi, I noticed that you recently followed us! You might be interested in x. Visit our website at x for more info!”

Blog promotion templates

Template #5: “Hello, thanks for the follow! Feel free to read our blog for tips and tricks on x. Have a good x!”

Template #6: “Hello, thanks for the follow! If you’re interested in x, you might want to visit our website, x, for free tips on x. Have a nice day!”

How to Grow your Business using Instagram Direct Messages: Do’s and Don’ts


1. Aim to direct message a minimum of 10-20 users per day.

2. Direct message in intervals of 5-10 minutes to prevent being action blocked.

3. Write personalized messages for each user.

4. Utilize follow for follow communities to find users.

5. Send a direct message to anyone that followed you recently.

6. Like 3-6 posts of a user before following or direct messaging them to get their attention.


1. Don’t direct message random users.

2. Don’t spam your direct messages or you will be action blocked.

3. Don’t copy and paste your messages.

General FAQ

How to I find potential users to direct message?

You can do hashtag research (in your niche) and find users that have decent engagement on their posts. Alternatively, you can join follow for follow communities like followchain.org to find potential users to reach out to.

What do I include in a direct message?

If you are utilizing a follow for follow community to find users, it’s easier to establish a connection because both parties have mutual interests (follow for follow).

Thus, you just have to mention that you came from the respective community for a follow back (e.g. Followchain) to break the ice.

If you are not utilizing a follow for follow community, you need to follow some rules. Keep it short, personalized and authentic.

Alternatively, you can wait for users to follow you and use the templates in the previous section as references.

How do I provide value?

Value can come in many different forms. It can be educating your customers, giving out free stuff, or providing something that your customers want.


To recap, here are the most important learning points you should always keep in mind when to grow your business using Instagram direct messages.

Firstly, you’ll need to do some research to find users to direct message. You can’t be randomly direct messaging users because you’ll get a very low response rate.

Instead, find users that might actually find value in your product/service that you’re offering.

When networking over Instagram direct messages, find exactly where your target users are.

Secondly, joining follow for follow communities is a great way you can network on Instagram for your business. You can start by creating an account in Followchain and sharing your Instagram handle.

Lastly, you’ll need to be wary of Instagram’s restrictions. This means that you’ll have to be very meticulous on the rate that you’re sending direct messages.

Never spam your direct messages because you’re going to end up being action blocked by Instagram. If you do get action blocked, you’ll have to wait for several hours for it to be lifted.

Over the course of three months, I’ve direct messaged close to 2,500 users.

What I learnt is that messaging in an interval of 10 minutes mitigates being action block entirely.

Therefore, if you want to include direct messages as part of your marketing strategy, always follow and direct message users in intervals of at least 5-10 minutes to prevent being action blocked.

Good luck, and happy direct messaging!

Join our follow for follow community for Instagram, Followchain. Expand your follower base and find new people to follow on Instagram. Sign up and create an account for free today!

Author: Lim How Wei. Lim How Wei is the founder of Followchain, a community that simplifies growth and networking for Instagram users. Feel free to follow him on Instagram.

About the author

Lim How Wei

Lim How Wei is the founder of followchain.org, with 8+ years of experience in Social Media Marketing and 4+ years of experience as an active investor in stocks and cryptocurrencies. He has researched, tested, and written thousands of articles ranging from social media platforms to messaging apps.

Lim has been quoted and referenced by major publications and media companies like WikiHow, Fast Company, HuffPost, Vice, New York Post, The Conversation, and many others. One of his articles about the gig economy was quoted by Joe Rogan who hosts The Joe Rogan Experience (arguably the most popular podcast in the world), in the This Past Weekend podcast by Theo Von.

In his free time, Lim plays multiple games like Genshin Impact, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Hearthstone, RuneScape, and many others. He creates guides, walkthroughs, solutions, and more on games that he plays to help other players with their progression.