- Instagram is working on a frequently asked questions (FAQ) feature that lets users start a chat with businesses or creators by tapping on a list of queries in a direct message. The Facebook-owned app declined to confirm whether the option is just being tested or is in the early stages of a rollout, TechCrunch reported.
- A screengrab of the FAQ setup page shared on Twitter says the feature can "help people start conversations by showing questions they can tap at the beginning of chat with your account." The offering mirrors one available on Messenger, Facebook's chat app that lets businesses, brands, organizations and public figures with a Facebook Page generate automated responses to questions.
- Instagram's FAQ feature will be available to popular creators and business accounts, according to sources cited by TechCrunch. The service might help brands and influencers that receive high volumes of similar questions from Instagram users to better manage their responses.
Rumblings of an Instagram FAQ setup page for brands and creators indicate the photo-messaging app is looking to give mobile marketers more ways to easily manage their interactions with users. Like FAQ pages on websites, the self-serve feature could help to improve customer service while easing the pressure on businesses and creators to answer similar questions repeatedly. As Instagram prioritizes channels like e-commerce, the ability to quickly resolve problems could be more important, as consumers who feel burned by a faulty purchase or interaction might look elsewhere or be warded off shopping through their phones — a tactic that's seen increased traction during the pandemic.
For smaller businesses that don't have a dedicated team to monitor social media interactions, the FAQ feature could also prove especially useful as consumers spend more time online and use contactless methods to shop. With 70% of consumers saying they have experienced longer call times when trying to reach businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a survey by texting software provider ZipWhip, mobile messaging might fill the gap. The survey found that about half (48%) of consumers said they prefer to receive alerts and important notices from businesses by text, compared with 45% for email and only 7% for phone.
The FAQ feature adds to Instagram's efforts to build out a more robust product suite for businesses and creators that will keep them within the app's ecosystem. Instagram last month introduced shopping features to its video feeds on Reels and IGTV, and in July debuted Instagram Shop as a hub for personalized recommendations, exclusive items and collections of products from brands and creators.
Facebook broadly has been pushing forward on the commerce front. In August, Facebook added a shopping section to its main app and announced plans to offer Instagram Checkout to all U.S. businesses. The social networking giant has framed the expanded commerce offerings as a lifeline for small businesses and creators during the pandemic, though major brands have also pivoted toward e-commerce channels that are likely to remain popular as consumer habits shift for the long haul.
For Facebook, the FAQ feature in Instagram is another sign of how the social media giant is creating overlapping services among its family of apps, which also includes WhatsApp. As TechCrunch notes, Facebook's Messenger chat app already had given businesses a way to set up responses to frequently asked questions as part of its effort to support chat interactions with consumers. Amid signs that Facebook may be reaching a saturation point with how many ads its apps can carry, supporting the e-commerce efforts of businesses may help to drive revenue as growth in the global digital ad market slows in the next few years.
Facebook is also in the middle of unifying the messaging features of several of its apps on the back end, a move it says will better safeguard user privacy. In August, it began merging chats on Messenger and Instagram.