January 19, 2015

One of the things I'm always preaching about Instagram etiquette is the need to respond to comments on Instagram. I say it over and over: respond to all the comments on your posts! This is important in growing your community and actually building relationships with your audience.

However, for as much as I preach this, there are a variety of comments that you might receive and not all of them deserve the same type of response. This was highlighted recently when a reader asked me how she should respond when someone @ mentions someone else on your posts (inviting them to check out the content or asking their opinion). I responded to her email with my suggestions but decided to take this one step further in today's blog post.

So, here I have examples of different scenarios where someone might comment or @ mention you and how you can respond to each.

Just remember that if you are going to address anyone in your comments, you need to @ mention them to ensure they see your response.

Additionally, I should point out that you can obviously respond to comments directly in Instagram, on your profile. However, there are third party tools available that you can use to better manage notifications, comments, and engagement. One of the tools I recommend to help make sure you never miss a comment is Agorapulse (affiliate link). You can monitor multiple Instagram profiles, including all the comments you receive, as well as ads you might have running. It's super easy to review and reply to all your comments that way.

A Compliment on Your Post

These are often some of the most common comments you'll receive on your posts. People may appreciate the beauty of the image, the artistic composition of the photo, the value of the quote, or some other aspect. Their comments typically offer some variation of a compliment on the content.

If the person is genuinely complimenting your post, respond in a thankful manner. Something as simple as "Thank you" or "Thanks" or "Glad you liked this one" is more than fine. If they called out specifics or got detailed in their comments, responding with a similar level of personalization is ideal. In these situations, the extra step makes you more genuine and relatable.

Now, if the person is being spammy in their compliments, you can choose how you want to handle them. Spam attempts are those who say "great pic! Follow me back" or "You look great!" (when there's no person in the photo) or other variations on these. And they usually try to get you to check their profiles or follow them back.

Personally, I usually call them out, tell them I don't condone spam on my content and that I will be deleting their comment. You can do this to if you feel comfortable with it. Otherwise, simply ignoring or even deleting the comment is an alternative. Also, if you do delete their comment, you can choose to do so while deleting and reporting as a spam/scam. I do this frequently when the spam attempt is blatant. Instagram does review this feedback in its analysis of what accounts are adhering to their terms.

A Response to Your Question

Did you ask your audience a question? Or ask them to tag people or perform an action on your post? If you did, you really should respond to them and thank them for their input! This is called being "social" ๐Ÿ˜‰

While I can't give you targeted ways to respond to this, since it will depend on what you originally asked of them, your response should include gratitude (thank you) for their comment and input. If they've answered a question or provided specifics, I again recommend you personalize your response. Something like "I hadn't tried that yet" or "What a clever suggestion" or "I really like that idea" in response to their comment is a good way to acknowledge their comment.

A Question or Customer Service Issue

If one of your fans or customers reach out to you on Instagram with a question or customer service issue, you MUST (in my opinion) respond to them. If someone is looking to you for help, it is your obligation to provide that support.

Answer their question as accurately and promptly as possible. Be specific and helpful - this your real opportunity to provide value to your audience.

If the question or issue is something that requires a more personalized approach that you don't want to publicly address on your post, respond to their comment and let them know that you want to help them but that you will send them a private DM to resolve the issue privately. First of all, this allows you to respect their privacy and address the issue. But secondly, it shows your other followers that you do respond and take these issues seriously.

An @ Mention to Someone Else

This happens quite commonly where someone who follows you @ mentions a friend on your post. Sometimes it's just their Instagram username, other times it's their name and a question or comment. For example, "@soandso what do you think of this?" or it might be more specific to the item in your post or it might be something like "I thought of you when I saw this".

Personally, I don't typically respond if it's a simple @ mention of someone. This is because I don't know what the context of the mention was for and don't want to interfere or insert myself into a conversation.

However, if they have left an additional comment, then a response may be warranted. A simple "Thank you" or "thanks for sharing this with your friends" may be appropriate - you know your audience best. You can also send the person who commented a Direct Message with a personalized thank you.

Another tip I recommend, especially if your post is product based, is to offer a discount code as an additional thank you for sharing your products. If the person tagged responds with a positive comment (they like them, they want it, so pretty, etc.) then I would DEFINITELY respond to both the original person and the tagged person in a response. Thank the original person for sharing, and show your gratitude that the tagged person liked the product. Again, if you want to find a way to seal the deal, throwing in a coupon code for them (DM or in a comment) will both show your appreciation, customer service, and be more likely to convert the sale. Also, if more people notice this pattern of reward, they may be more likely to do this again, or themselves. People are willing to share a lot for an extra 10% off at their favorite retailers and stores.

@ Mentioning You In a Spam Post

These ones get beyond annoying and I'm asked about how to handle these all the time. There are a lot of spam posts out there (not your content, I know!), but where people will for some reason @ mention you in the post comments. Since you can't do anything about these posts, I can't really help there.

BUT, I do recommend you block the user who mentioned you. Then block the person with the spam post. Then report the spam post as being a scam or spam. You can access all these options from the three-dot button on the posts and profiles.


These are my tips... what are yours? Do you have any unique or rewarding ways to respond to comments on Instagram? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments below!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. i loved reading this post because I am still new to IG, and it’s fun to have some guidelines to follow.

    I do have some questions about it….how do you respond if someone just leaves a emoticon, no words…do you respond at all?

    And if someone “hearts/likes” your photo, do you go over to their feed and do the same…and if they leave tons of hearts….do you do the same amount? I’ve noticed that many people will do that and follow me…some stay, some leave after a few days. Obviously some are trying for followers, but I don’t want to be polite.

    And do you go to each feed and “heart” back some of their posted images? It’s exhausting trying to keep up with everyone. While I more then appreciate their doing so…I can’t keep up unless I spend all day visiting…oh the IG guilt!!!

    Let me know what you suggest.

    Thanks, Jen

    1. Hi Jen! I’m so glad you found this post helpful!
      As for comments with only emoticons, it depends on the emoticon. Is it a thumbs up, happy face, or something positive? Then you could respond with a simple thank you or even a complimentary emoji – who doesn’t love a whole convo exclusively in emojis? ๐Ÿ˜‰
      When someone likes your post, there’s no required etiquette to thank them or reciprocate. However, if you notice someone regularly liking your content, you might want to shoot them a DM with a personalized thank you or promo code for your business. Or you could swing by their profile and comment or like some of their content to reciprocate. It is always about engagement so if it’s warranted, bring it on! But don’t stress yourself out trying to keep up.
      If someone goes through and likes a whole bunch of your posts, it could be genuine and a thank you is warranted. However, as you mentioned, it could be a spam attempt to get new followers. Handle it how you feel comfortable!

  2. I’m so glad Jen asked about emoji-only replies. I’ve wondered if that’s a “lazy” way to say awesome (like texting “u r gr8 thx”) or if an emoji is genuine. Thanks for sharing your insights on that.

    A whole conversation in emoticons does sound delightful.

  3. Hello,

    This was a really interesting read. My dear friend has quite a following on instagram (150k+) and she still goes out of her way to answer as many comments as she can. My one question would be is it ever acceptable to delete comments that are hateful? She has her following for being a nail artist and young girls often go on there to say very mean things and it turns into a large argument. My friend is never part of the argument, the comments just take on a life of their own. Is it okay to delete these types of things? She’s always curious if that is the right course of action of if inserting herself to calm everything down is better.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Hi Caitlyn! Thanks for stopping by and for asking this question. This is never something easy to answer and it often depends on a few factors.
      In general, I advise against deleting comments because I think everyone should have a right to voice their opinion and perspective. However, especially on Instagram, where I get a lot of spamaholics leaving annoying comments, I do delete them.
      She also has to be weary of her audience and how these comments can affect that audience. If the comments are vulgar and inappropriate (and unrelated to the product or content in the photo), then I say it’s ok to delete. But as I mention frequently, I recommend she explain why. Leave a comment responding to the offender telling them why their comments are not welcome and that the comment will be deleted. This not only shows them and other offenders that she is serious about her platform, but it also shows her true fans and audience that she cares about them. This way it becomes a positive message and supportive stance rather than looking like she’s just deleting anything she doesn’t agree with.
      If these rude offenders are posting inappropriate comments or spam, she can also block those users to prevent them from returning. Only do this if they are actual spammers or cyber bullies and not legitimate fans voicing an opinion.

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