• June 2, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

CRM Companies Line Up to Support Instagram Messenger

Facebook's Instagram today officially launched its Messenger API, which allows companies and organizations to govern their Instagram-related communications from their preferred social media and customer care management platforms.

Instagram is quickly becoming a preferred social platform for companies to engage consumers, build brand awareness, generate leads, and in some cases, increase direct-to-consumer sales, with its global reach and a growing audience of more than 1 billion users worldwide. In fact, 90 percent of its users follow at least one business, and 50 percent are more interested in a company when they see ads for it on Instagram, according to the Instagram's own data.

And CRM companies are already lining up to integrate with the new Messenger API for Instagram. Hootsuite, Genesys, Zendesk, Reputation, and Nuance Communications are among the first CRM vendors to support the new platform.

Hootsuite's integration, which will be available via ;Hootsuite Inbox and Sparkcentral by Hootsuite, will allow users to seamlessly communicate on Instagram without having to access the app natively. Hootsuite Inbox users can also monitor response times and collaborate within teams via Assignments, designating ownership to ensure an effective workflow. 

Users of Sparkcentral can harness the power of its Automated Message Distributor to manage Instagram conversations at scale.

"These days we're seeing the entire customer journey happening on social media," says Ryan Donovan, chief technology officer at Hootsuite. "And we're coming to understand more and more that social customer care actually touches every phase of that journey. Now, with The Messenger API for Instagram, we can really help our customers propel themselves into the future of social customer care by meeting their customers where they already are."

Hootsuite found that more than 60 percent of organizations were planning to increase their investments in Instagram. "With the new Messenger API for Instagram, our customers can now spark and manage conversations that matter without skipping a beat," Donovan adds.

Genesys, a provider of cloud customer experience and contact center solutions, also offers Messenger API support for Instagram, allowing companies to interact with consumers through private Instagram messaging to provide personalized experiences at scale, to answer product questions, address concerns, and more, based on their customer profiles and service histories. Consumers can connect to companies from within the Instagram platform, sending messages directly as they browse through stories, feeds, and shops. They can even initiate a conversation with a live representative from the messaging feed.

"Instagram is one of the most influential social platforms, but until now, brands haven't been able to fully tap into the marketing potential of the platform as there wasn't an easy way to privately respond to questions and provide information at scale," said Barry O'Sullivan, executive vice president and general manager of Genesys Digital and AI. "With Messenger API for Instagram, we can enable brands to engage at a deeper level to influence the consumer journey from discovery to purchase, forging stronger customer relationships while extending the value of marketing spend."

Zendesk is another key partner in the launch. With Instagram Direct, companies can connect their Instagram accounts to Zendesk to provide quick, personalized service at scale and create a better shopping experience for the app's 1 billion users. With the integration, companies can send direct messages with text, images, emojis, and attachments; react to mentions and respond to story replies; automate and escalate conversations with use case and workflow management tools; share product information that directs customers to the Facebook store for purchase, and view a more complete customer profile of past interactions across other messaging channels.

Reputation will use the updated Messenger API as another data source in its recently-launched Messaging ;product, which gives clients one central inbox from which to engage customers across multiple messaging channels to capture leads and feedback and provide fast support.

"Businesses have been wanting to consolidate their social customer care efforts for years. The recent launch of our Messaging product was a big step toward addressing that need, and now we're adding in another important customer communication channel with Instagram" said Pranav Desai, senior vice president of product at Reputation."Our clients already use Instagram to showcase everything from vehicles to apartments and more, so the ability to easily manage Instagram messages from customers in the Reputation platform will help clients capture more leads from their marketing efforts and speed up support response times."

Nuance is integrating the Messenger API for Instagram with the Nuance Intelligent Engagement Platform. This integration will extend Nuance's AI-enhanced customer service experiences to messaging on Instagram, creating new opportunities for live and virtually assisted conversations with customers. It can pull in contextual data from other channels and systems to create a streamlined, personalized interaction, giving agents all the information they need to handle high volumes of messages.

Other CRM companies that are integrating the Messenger API for Instagram into their applications include Gupshup, which is rolling it into its conversational messaging platform; Emplifi (formed recently after the joining of Astute and Socialbakers) which is incorporating it into its social marketing cloud; and Pypestream, which is integrating it into its messaging platform.

"The Messenger API for Instagram is now available for all developers who make it possible for brands to improve and enhance messaging experiences with customers," said Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, vice president of platform partnerships at Messenger. "By integrating the Messenger API for Instagram, businesses and developers can effectively scale messaging workflows to better own the customer experience and build more authentic relationships."

Hootsuite, Genesys, Zendesk, Socialbakers, Pypestream, and Reputation were all among the companies that tested the new Messenger API for Instagram as part of the beta program that launched in October. In total, 30 developers and 700 companies and organizations participated in the Messenger API for Instagram beta.

Hootsuite customer Georgia State University was one of those organizations.

"Students don't see different departments at Georgia State, they just see one, so we get questions about everything from accommodation to billing to class schedules," said Terry Coniglio, director of content strategy at Georgia State University. "Having Instagram messaging in our Hootsuite Inbox workflow helps us direct those questions to the right teams so we can help more students get the answers they need."

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