How to Create a Flow for an Instagram Chatbot

The flow builder is the main tool to set up your bot to welcome new subscribers, assist users, sell products, and notify a manager about users’ questions in the chatbot. Also, a chatbot can gather information and send it to your system for future use.

All you need is to create keywords, design the bot’s structure, and drag-and-drop elements in the SendPulse flow builder.

Below, you can find a detailed table of contents. Use it as a map to comfortably find all of the possible triggers and elements to get started adding them to your bot’s flow.

Choosing a Trigger for Your Flow

By default, there are flows for "Welcome message," "Standard reply," "Story mention," "Unsubscribe from bot," and quick reactions to the story in the form of emoji. You can create your own new triggers to get more functionality.

Choose your bot. Navigate to the “Bot Structure" tab and choose a trigger.

Welcome Message Flows

The flow starts after a user subscribes to your chatbot — i.e. after the user sends your business page a direct message.

Please note: a user can be a subscriber of your Instagram chatbot, but not a subscriber of your Instagram business account profile. You can use the Filter element to check the status of your profile subscription.

This flow introduces your bot to users. Here, you can write a little about your bot and its features – how the bot can be useful, what information the bot can provide, how often the bot will send messages, and the content of those messages.

Story Mention

The flow starts when users mention the business account linked to your chatbot in their Instagram story.

With this trigger, you can quickly respond to all mentions of your service, building communication with your customers.

Please note: for the flow to start, the user account who mentions your account, must be public, and their story must be open to everyone.

Users who mention you in their story become your chatbot subscriber.

You can set up a cool-down interval for launching a flow between 1 minute and 24 hours — so your bot won’t launch a second time within the specified interval. To set the interval, click Edit Trigger and select a time.

Emoji reactions

A subscriber will receive this flow of messages after reacting to your company's Instagram story with an emoji.

With the help of such a flow, you can offer a client a discount, visit a store or a trial lesson, send the address of your location, ask a question, engage in a dialogue, and send a link to helpful materials.

We recommend you change the content of the message depending on the context of the story itself and the niche of your business to send users relevant information.

Standard Reply

The flow will launch in response to any user question that is outside your bot’s scenario, or by sending an image to a bot. You can add a message with information that a manager will contact them during business hours and reply to the user.

You can set up a cool-down interval for launching a flow between 1 minute and 24 hours — so your bot won’t launch a second time within the specified interval.

Unsubscription from Bot

This is a flow with one message element that will launch after a user unsubscribes using the /stop or /unsubscribe command.

Trigger Flow

You can add keywords — triggers, that your bot will react to and launch your flow.

Click “Create a new trigger." Write your command using one or several words. For example, you can use the words “Order," “Tickets," “Price," or “Delivery."

If the user enters part of a keyword linked to your command, your bot will suggest prompts such as a button with the name of your trigger. When the user clicks the button, the flow will launch.

You can also restrict the callback for a specific period of time.

Learn more: How to Manage Chatbot Flow Triggers.

If the user enters part of a keyword linked to your command, your bot will suggest prompts such as a button with the name of your trigger. When the user clicks the button, the flow will launch.

To disable this feature, go to your chatbot settings and select the "Disable bot suggestions when entered messages do not match a keyword" option.

After creating the trigger, click the Create flow button and start editing it.

Building Your Flow

It’s important to think about the architecture and logic structure of your bot carefully. A well-designed bot will let users easily get a reply to their questions or place an order successfully by providing the necessary information.

Formulate the bot’s tasks, divide its functions into sections, think of how you will connect the elements, and start creating your bot’s flow using our drag-and-drop builder. You can also use services like X-Mind, Miro, or Coggle to create a preliminary customer journey map.

The Start and "Message" Element

Every flow starts with the "Message" element. You can add text, images, cards, and user input elements within the "Message" element.

You can add the “Message" element to any part of your flow. For example, in the last element of your flow, you can thank your users, confirm their order, and send personalized information using variables, asking if the information is correct.

Text

Within the “Message" element, select the text element type, and add the text of your message. Also, you can add emoji and variables to personalize your messages.

To add a variable click {} in the right corner of the text block and choose the variable you want to add from the drop-down menu. If you have a value for this variable in the user’s contact information, they will receive a message with the value filled in.

You can use the following types of variables:

  • Custom variables for contacts. You can transfer variables when a user subscribes. Set and update variables manually in the "Audience" section. Set and update variables automatically in the flow with the following elements: "Action - set variable," "User input," and "API request."
  • System variables. You can insert the text of the last message from the subscriber using the last_message variable. You can also display the subscriber ID using contact_id.
  • Global variables. You can create your own variables in the bot settings and use messages with predefined values that will be used for all of your subscribers. By default, $bot_name and $bot_id are available.

Button

To connect the "Message" element with other elements in your flow, add a button or user input element to the message element. This is one of the most important elements for communicating with your users — buttons engage users and let them choose a direction for your bot to take them to the next part of your flow.

You can add up to three buttons in one "Message" element.

To add a button, click + Add button. Select the type of button: "Continue flow," "Link," or "Payment."

Name your button in the first field. Note, you are limited to 20 characters. Also, you can add emoji to the button’s text.

The text on the button should be easily understandable — it’s important for users to understand what will happen when they click on the button and know what specifically they need to choose. Make sure that the next element in your flow corresponds to what the button says it will do to maintain the logic of your bot.

For a button with the "Link" type, you can also attach a link to a third-party resource.

Please note: To allow the user to continue the conversation by clicking on the link button, you need to activate the "Link Tracking" option in the chatbot settings under the "General" tab.

We recommend adding “Back" and “Back to main menu" buttons after all the information you add, so users can change their choice and choose another path through your flow. This prevents the logic of your bot from being trapped or broken with one message.

Image

Diversify your messages by using visual content that relates to your text.

To add an image click on the Add button, choose the “Image" element, then upload your image. You can add images in JPG and PNG formats up to 5MB in size.

To upload an image from a link, select "Upload image by URL" in the drop-down menu and specify the link to the image in the field.

You can also specify a dynamic path to the image. For example, using the "API request" element or an a360 event, launching the flow via API, you can send a product picture and use this variable in the following message, displaying order data to the client.

To do this, select a variable or specify a JSON path in the field and pass the path to the image in the variable's value. Thus, each client will receive an image according to their order.

Card

The carousel format allows you to showcase up to 10 cards. In one card, you can add an image, title – with up to 80 characters, and a description – with up to 80 characters and 3 buttons with a link to another flow or an external source.

To add more cards, click + on the right.

The service allows you to add up to 10 cards in one element. To switch between the cards, click the arrow buttons. To delete a card, click the cross button.

User Input

You can gather information from users and save it to a variable for future use. Users can enter any value and you only need to set up the type of validation for this value — string (for text values), number, date, phone number, email address, URL, or regular expression.

Activate "Wait for the subscriber's response." Choose the validation type, add a warning message for users who enter the wrong value, and choose the variable you want to store information to.

The received email address, phone number, and other user data are saved in the automatically generated mailing list from our Email service.

Enter the time to wait for a response.

You can also create quick reply buttons under the message so that the user does not need to enter their own values. Instead, they select their response from the existing ones. You can add up to 10 quick reply buttons.

You can add quick replies for data with the "String," "Number," and "Regular expressions" validation types. For example, enter a specific word by the user, enter the quantity of a product, or select a product category.

For data with the "Phone" and "Email" validation types, the messenger prompts the users to use the contact details of their account.

Learn more: "How to Use Regular Expressions in Chatbots"


For example, if you have a request in the message element — "Click a number to get specific information." The validation type will be "Number." If the user enters a non-numeric value, they will see an error.

Another example: "Leave a link to your Facebook account." You should choose the "URL" validation type here.

Learn more: How to Add a User Input Element.

Quick Replies 

You can also add another type of buttons — "Quick Replies," (preset replies for chatbot users) which do not save user data (unlike data saved with the "User input" function). However, you can use it to expand the number of buttons and link each button to the next branch of your scenario.

Likewise, you can use buttons as an additional menu to improve navigation for your chatbot.

To add quick reply buttons, click "Quick replies" in the editing panel of the "Message" element, and enter a name for the button with up to 20 characters.

You can use emoji in your button text and add up to 10 buttons to the message element.

Quick reply buttons are displayed to the user immediately below the text input field. Users can hide the buttons and reveal them by clicking in the text input field on the corresponding icon located on the right.

You can combine "Quick reply" buttons and regular buttons, but users will receive an additional emoji message in this case.

After sending the next message, quick replies disappear. To quickly get a message with these buttons, we recommend creating a trigger and a flow on this trigger. Then, place the flow in the menu, which is always shown to the user and expands when the "/" icon is pressed.

Moving Elements

By default, each element you add is placed at the end of the message element you are working on. Hover over the element that you want to move up or down and click on the corresponding button.

Continuing the Flow

You can connect the next element after the "Message" element using the button or the "Input" function. You can also continue your flow without waiting for the user's response. We recommend using it with the "Pause" element to check if the subscriber interacted with the flow and send a message after a particular time.

Learn more: How to Continue a Chatbot Flow without a User Action.

Connecting Elements

Drag a line from the blue drop of one element to another element to connect them.

Click on the line twice, and you will see a button to remove a connection.

The disconnected elements will be highlighted in yellow; remember that you need to link them to another element.

Elements with empty fields will be highlighted in red, reminding you that you need to fill in fields. For example — if you added a button but did not enter text for it or used a link element but did not enter a URL. You cannot save your flow until you fill in these fields.

Adding a "Flow" Element

You can simplify your bot’s structure and move your subscriber to another flow.

To do this, add an element, then choose the "Flow" element, and select the flow you want to link from the drop-down list.

The "Flow" element will be the last element in this branch of your existing flow. You cannot link it to another element to continue the original flow.

Adding an "Action" Element

Only you can see the "Action" element, it will not provide content to your users. Choose this element from the left panel and drop it near the element you want to link. Then, choose which action you want to add.

Opening a Chat with a Human

Choose the “Open the chat” action for a personal consultation — this is for cases when the chatbot’s work is done, and the user wants personal communication. This action will open a live chat with the bot’s admin.

Also, you can set up email notifications for the manager about an open chat that will be sent to the email addresses used to register the account or enable web notifications in the browser.

Unsubscribing from the Bot

Users can unsubscribe from your bot with the /stop and /unsubscribe commands, but also you can set up that automatically. Use the “Unsubscribe from the bot” action for the branch of your scenario where you need to delete users from your audience list to never send them messages again.

Adding Tags

Add tags to mark user’s preferences and use them to create more personalized campaigns in the future.

Learn more: How to Use Chatbot Tags.

Removing Tags

Remove an existing tag from a user if it becomes irrelevant.

Adding Variables

Add a value for the variable to use information in the future — it can be information about an order or personal data, which will help filter your audience for targeted campaigns.

For numbers and dates, you can specify dynamic values. To add or subtract the value of a variable, type in the value +1 or -1. If the current value is empty, the count will be zero for numbers and the current date for dates.

You can view saved variables in the "Audience" tab of your bot.

Sending Webhooks

Add this action after an event you want to be notified about. For example, if a specific client just made an order — your CRM will get a POST request with that subscribers’ data, and any variables and tags that the bot gathered.

To add an element to the flow choose the "Send webhook" action. In the first field, enter a name for the webhook so that you can easily find it by name in your system and filter it. In the second field, add a link to your handler where the POST request will be sent.

Learn more: How to Send Webhooks Via Chatbots.

Creating a Deal

You can integrate a chatbot with your CRM. To do this, add the “Action - Сreate deal” element after a specific user action, for example, clicking the Submit order button.

Select a pipeline and deal stage — the pipeline and stage to place a deal card. Then, enter a deal name. You can also add a variable to the deal name to pass custom data.

Adding a "Filter" Element

Segment customers based on their personal information and history of receiving your previous messages. Select the "Filter" element in the left sidebar and drag it after the element that will start your branching scripts.

Then, select the condition itself. You can filter by: variable value, assigned tag, participation in the flow, received campaigns, or run time.

Combine conditions by adding the operators "any" or "all," or add independent additional conditions.

In our example, we filter the values of the variables obtained through the “User input” element by specifying additional conditions.

Also with “Filter” element you can check your Instagram profile subscription status: whether the user is subscribed to your business account, or you to their profile.

After adding conditions, add additional flow elements to each of the Filter element options if the condition is met (green dot) or not met (red dot).

Learn more: How to Use the Filter Element in the Chatbot Flow Builder.

Adding an "API Request" Element

You can query a third-party server to create objects or retrieve information. Get data and use it later in your bot.

Save the received data to a variable, or add it to the next message as JSONPath.

In the elements panel, select the "API Request" element, and drag it after the element from which your script branching begins. Select the type of request and enter the URL to which the request will be sent.

After validating the request and receiving a successful response, save the value to a variable or copy the JSON Path from the response field for subsequent messages.

Learn more: How to Send and Receive Data from External Sources.

Adding a "Pause" Element

You can set up a pause between flow elements between 1 minute to 24 hours. Use this to warm up your clients to avoid sending them too many messages at once.

This is the period during which no automatic messages are sent to the subscriber. The pause can be set in minutes, hours, or days.

You can choose to pause in between using the "Time period" option or until a specific time using the "Till Time" option.

Select the "Time period" option and set a pause between sending flow elements from 1 minute to 24 hours. Use it in a flow, for example, to warm up a client. After the specified time, the next message will be sent.

Please note: Instagram only allows the following message to be sent after user interaction for 24 hours.

If you select a pause of more than 1 day between elements, you can set the time at which the message will be sent. The system considers the next day any time after 00:00 according to the time zone set in the settings of your personal account.

Also, you can select "Till time" and set a delay until a particular time. For example, you can use this option to indicate business hours or promotion hours.

Also, using the "Pause" element, you can set the condition for executing the next element of the flow: always or when the subscriber is inactive.

Adding a "Random choice" Element

Send elements from your chatbot script at random for A/B testing, creating quizzes, and more. You can customize the size of the recipient group for each option, send random information, and test different chatbot scenarios.

Drag the item "Random choice" element to the working area, connect it to the element you start branching the script from.

Learn more: How to Use the "Randomizer" Element.

Save and Launch Your Flow

When you finished creating your flow and have looked over all of the elements, save your flow before exiting. Click "Save and send it to yourself" to test the flow and check if everything is working correctly.

After that, you can exit your flow by clicking "Save and exit."

Analyze Your Results

SendPulse allows you to track general statistics on a chatbot in the "Statistics" tab.

You can see the number of messages sent and read, redirects from the flow, both in total and separately for each message in the "Bot structure" tab.

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