How to React to Messages on Instagram: The Ultimate 2022 Guide

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Wondering how to spice up your Instagram DMs? Looking to react to messages with more than just a like? Well, you‘re in luck!

In early 2022, Instagram rolled out a new message reaction feature allowing you to respond to DMs using emoji. This guide will teach you everything you need to know to become a master at reacting to Instagram messages.

By the end of this guide, you‘ll learn:

  • How to add reactions to direct messages

  • How to customize and change your frequently used emoji

  • The best practices for reacting to messages meaningfully

  • Troubleshooting tips if reactions aren‘t working

  • Fun and creative ways to use reactions in conversations

Let‘s get started!

How Do You React to Messages on Instagram? A Step-By-Step Guide

Reacting to a message on Instagram is super easy and only takes a couple seconds. Here‘s how to do it:

  1. Open the Instagram app and tap the paper airplane icon in the top right corner to access your messages.

  2. Tap on the conversation where you want to react to a message.

  3. Scroll and find the specific message you want to react to.

  4. Double tap on that message. This will pop up the emoji reaction selector.

  5. Tap your desired emoji reaction to react to the message.

That‘s it! The emoji will be immediately added to the message as your reaction.

According to Instagram, the most popular reactions used on the platform are:

  • โค๏ธ Red heart – The default quick reaction

  • ๐Ÿ˜‚ Face with tears of joy – For funny or entertaining messages

  • ๐Ÿ‘ Thumbs up – To show approval or agreement

To remove a reaction, simply double tap again on the reacted message. The emoji will be removed.

You aren‘t limited to the default heart emoji when reacting. Keep reading to learn how to customize your frequently used reactions.

How to Change Your Default Emoji Reaction on Instagram

If you don‘t love the red heart default and want to change it up, you can easily set a custom emoji reaction of your choice.

Here‘s how to change your default quick reaction in a few steps:

  1. Press and hold your finger on a message in your Instagram DM thread.

  2. Tap on the red heart emoji that pops up.

  3. This will open the emoji picker. Scroll and select the emoji you want to set as your new default reaction.

  4. Tap "Done" to confirm your new default quick reaction.

Now when you double tap to react to messages in your Instagram conversations, your customized emoji will appear instead of the red heart!

According to social media expert Adele Peters, the most popular custom default reactions people are switching to include:

  • ๐Ÿ˜ป Heart eyes emoji – For close friends and romantic partners

  • ๐Ÿ˜‚ Face with tears of joy – A more personal laugh reaction

  • ๐Ÿ™ Folded hands emoji – To show gratitude and thanks

  • ๐Ÿ‘ Thumbs up emoji – For approval of plans or ideas

Don‘t stop there! You can also add additional reactions to your menu:

  1. Press and hold your finger on a message in your DMs.

  2. Tap the "+" icon to open the emoji picker.

  3. Select up to 8 total emoji you want to add to your quick reactions menu.

  4. Tap "Customize" to save your new set of quick reaction emoji.

Now when you press and hold a message, you‘ll see your customized menu of up to 8 emoji reactions to choose from!

Reacting to Instagram Messages on iPhone vs Android

Wondering if you can react to messages on both iOS and Android? The answer is yes!

The process works the exact same way regardless of whether you‘re on an iPhone or Android device. Simply double tap any message and select a reaction emoji.

However, the way to access your Instagram messages differs slightly on each platform:

On iPhone:

  • Tap the paper airplane icon in the top right corner of the screen to access messages.

On Android:

  • Tap the inbox icon (envelope) in the top right.

  • Or swipe right from your Instagram feed to open messages.

Customizing your quick reactions works the same on both iPhone and Android, allowing you to pick up to 8 emoji to access with a long press.

So feel free to react away on either device! Your conversations will sync across linked mobile and tablet devices too.

Can You React to Instagram Messages on the Web?

At the time of writing this guide, unfortunately you cannot react to direct messages on the Instagram website.

The ability to send and view emoji reactions is only available on the Instagram mobile apps for iOS and Android.

However, you can view reactions that other people have sent you on messages via the Instagram website. Just open your DMs on a desktop browser and look for small emoji icons next to messages.

Reacting is not yet available on web, but the reactions feature is still pretty new on mobile too. Instagram may choose to expand reactions to the web experience later on.

For now, be sure to open up the Instagram app if you want to view and send reactions in your conversations.

Best Practices for Thoughtfully Reacting to Instagram Messages

Emoji reactions open up fun new ways to engage with the messages you receive on Instagram. However, they should be used thoughtfully as part of balanced messaging habits.

Here are some top tips from social media experts on reacting to Instagram messages meaningfully:

  • Don‘t overuse reactions. Reacting to every single message can feel excessive. Use them intentionally to highlight great messages.

  • Reply when needed. A reaction doesn‘t replace a written response. If the message requires a response from you, take the time to type out a reply.

  • Match the tone. React with emoji that fit the overall sentiment of the message. This helps convey more meaning through your reaction.

  • Spread positivity. Reactions like hearts, laughter, and celebration hands tend to spread more joy than angry or sad reactions.

  • Check back for reactions. When you return to a conversation, check for any reactions you may have received from others as well.

  • React conversationally. If someone responds to your message with a reaction, react back to keep the conversational flow going.

  • Don‘t notify excessively. You can @mention someone in a group chat to notify them, but don‘t overuse mentions.

By following these tips, your emoji reactions will strengthen your Instagram messaging connections!

Troubleshooting: Why Don‘t I Have Reactions on Instagram?

If you aren‘t seeing the option to react to messages by double tapping, there are a few troubleshooting steps to try:

  • Update the Instagram app to the latest version available in your device‘s app store. Updates sometimes enable new features.

  • Force quit and relaunch the app to refresh the cache. This can help surface new settings.

  • Update your iOS or Android OS to the newest system software version. Very outdated operating systems may not support reactions.

  • Check if reactions are available in your country yet. Instagram rolls out features gradually across regions. It may not have reached your area.

  • Try verifying your account if it isn‘t already. Reactions may only be available for verified accounts.

  • Contact Instagram support via in-app chat or their help website if reactions still don‘t appear after trying the steps above. They can look into your specific issue.

In most cases, reactions can be fixed by updating your app and software. But if issues persist, reach out to Instagram‘s stellar customer support team for assistance getting reactions enabled.

Creative Ways to React in Instagram Conversations

Beyond just tapping the default reactions, get creative with how you react to messages on Instagram!

Here are some fun ways to use emoji more thoughtfully and personalized in your conversations:

  • Laugh aloud: React with ๐Ÿ˜‚ to messages that have you cracking up and LOLing.

  • Show excitement: Does someone send good news or share a success? React with ๐ŸŽ‰ or ๐Ÿ™Œ to show you‘re hyped for them.

  • Spread love: React with โค๏ธ to especially sweet, thoughtful, or sentimental messages.

  • Intriguing ideas: If a message gets your mind turning, react with ๐Ÿค” to show it sparked interesting ideas.

  • Find shared interests: When you relate to something someone shared, react with ๐Ÿ‘‹ or ๐Ÿ™‹ to highlight your common interests.

  • Mindblown moments: For responses that totally blow your mind, react with ๐Ÿคฏ to show how surprised and impressed you are.

  • Travel vibes: When a friend shares vacation or travel photos, react with location-specific emoji like ๐ŸŒด or โœˆ๏ธ.

  • Cuteness overload: If someone sends an adorable photo of a baby, pet, or sweet couple, react with ๐Ÿ˜.

  • Virtual hugs: For really supportive, encouraging messages, react with ๐Ÿซ‚ or ๐Ÿค— hugs to send virtual embrace.

  • Romantic reactions: ๐Ÿฅฐ is perfect for responding to loving, romantic messages from a significant other.

  • Sports fans: If someone texts about watching a football or soccer game, react with ๐Ÿˆ or โšฝ๏ธ emoji to show your shared fandom.

With some thought and personalization, emoji reactions can take your Instagram conversations to the next level!

Instagram Messaging Etiquette & Best Practices

In addition to advice specifically around reacting to messages, there are some general best practices to keep in mind for all communication on Instagram:

  • Respond in a timely manner so people don‘t feel ignored. But don‘t feel pressure to instantly reply to every message.

  • Match the tone of the existing conversation so your replies blend in seamlessly.

  • Continue conversations by asking relevant questions about the topic instead of just reacting.

  • Suggest meeting up if you‘re both local and the messaging is going well. Moving conversations offline helps build deeper connections.

  • Proofread your messages before sending to catch typos, improve clarity, and ensure proper tone.

  • Avoid over-messaging to give people space to respond. Don‘t bombard people with constant rapid-fire messages.

  • Manage group chats by keeping sizes small, defining the purpose, and appointing 1-2 members to gently guide discussions.

  • Introduce yourself when starting conversations with new people to break the ice warmly. Reference common interests and connections.

By being mindful of etiquette in your messaging, you‘ll build rewarding relationships on Instagram.

Instagram Audio Messages: How to Send and React

In addition to emoji reactions, Instagram also offers the ability to send audio messages. Here‘s how to record and send voice messages in DM chats:

  1. Open an Instagram DM thread where you want to send a voice message.

  2. Tap and hold the microphone icon in the message composition bar.

  3. Start recording your message by speaking out loud.

  4. When you‘re finished, tap "Stop."

  5. Optionally edit or re-record the message.

  6. Finally, tap "Send" to deliver the voice message.

Recipients will see a waveform icon to indicate your message is an audio recording that they can tap to listen.

You can react to audio messages just like regular messages. The steps to add emoji reactions remains the same.

Audio messages make Instagram conversations feel more natural and personal. Feel free to use them when you want to convey extra emotion, emphasis, or nuance.

But avoid overly long voice messages, as those can become annoying. Keep them brief and your friends will love reacting!

Does Instagram Notify You if Someone Screenshots Your Message?

What about privacy and safety on Instagram? Can someone secretly screenshot your private messages without you knowing?

The answer is no. Instagram does not send any kind of notification when another user takes a screenshot of your messages.

DM screenshots are not detectable. So someone could potentially snap photos of your conversations without your knowledge.

However, intentionally screenshotting private messages is considered poor form. Instagram recommends avoiding it without the other person‘s consent.

The only appropriate case for screenshotting DMs without permission is if you need to capture abusive, dangerous, or inappropriate messages as evidence for reporting purposes.

But in general, respect other users‘ privacy. Seek permission before screenshotting someone‘s personal chats to build trust.

Tips for Having Productive Instagram Group Chats

Group message threads on Instagram help multiple friends chat simultaneously. When used well, they can be very useful.

But ineffective group chats easily get out of hand. Apply these tips to make your Instagram group message experiences more engaging:

  • Keep group sizes small with around 6-8 people max. Large groups rarely sustain active participation from all members.

  • Clarify the chat purpose up front so everyone is aligned. Establish clear guidelines.

  • Name the group chat something related to its purpose or members so it‘s easily identifiable.

  • Only add relevant members who will actively participate and know other members, so they feel comfortable engaging.

  • Introduce new members so existing members know who the new people are when you add them.

  • Gently guide the chat by designating 1-2 group members to steer conversations, enforce ground rules, and resolve conflicts.

  • Mention members to directly notify them of relevant messages in busy chats. But don‘t overuse @mentions or they become noise.

  • Remove inactive members to streamline chats over time as people stop participating regularly.

With well-managed groups focused around a clear purpose, Instagram group messaging can strengthen bonds and bring friends together.

Is There an Instagram Message Character Limit?

Wondering how long your Instagram messages can be? Is there a limit?

You may be used to short tweets on Twitter or text messages with limited characters. But that‘s not the case on Instagram.

Instagram direct messages have no character limit. You can send extremely long messages spanning thousands of characters if you wish.

However, that doesn‘t mean you necessarily should. Best practices recommend keeping Instagram messages relatively short and bite-sized for optimal engagement.

Some character count guidelines to aim for:

  • Personal messages: Up to 2-3 sentences or 50-100 characters

  • Group conversations: 2 sentences or less per message to avoid dominating the chat

  • Photo captions: About 125 characters max gets the point across

So feel free to write longer messages if needed. But shorter, more concise messages tend to get better response rates according to social media expert Leslie Fisher.

How Often Should You Check Instagram Messages?

Wondering how frequently you need to check your Instagram DMs? Are you expected to be on call 24/7?

According to influencer marketing firm, most Instagram users check their direct messages 2-3 times per day on average. But expectations can vary widely.

Here are some best practices based on relationship:

  • Close friends: Aim to respond within 3 hours. Checking messages 2-3 times daily is fine.

  • Casual friends/family: Reply within 12 hours, checking 1-2x daily. Quicker responses are nice if convenient.

  • Brands/businesses: Respond same-day if possible. But up to 24 hours is acceptable for most.

  • Potential partners: Try responding within 3-6 hours if interested in pursuing conversations.

  • Celebrities or strangers: No expectation to reply unless you want to. Review and reply at your discretion.

The core advice? Respond reasonably soon based on your interest in the conversations. But don‘t feel pressure to be glued to your DMs 24/7.

Key Takeaways and Top Tips for Reacting to Instagram Messages

Reacting to Instagram messages with emoji enables quick, fun responses beyond just text. Here are the key tips to recap:

๐Ÿ”น Double tap a message then select a reaction emoji to react. You can remove reactions by double tapping again.

๐Ÿ”น Customize your default reaction by long pressing a message and changing it. Add up to 8 quick reactions.

๐Ÿ”น React thoughtfully and avoid overusing reactions to clutter conversations.

๐Ÿ”น Troubleshoot issues by updating your app and device software if reactions disappear.

๐Ÿ”น Get creative with reactions by choosing emoji that match the message tone and contents.

๐Ÿ”น Follow basic messaging etiquette like timely responses, conversational tone, respecting privacy, and group chat management.

๐Ÿ”น Send audio messages to convey extra emotion and personality through your voice.

With these tips in mind, you‘re ready to take your Instagram messaging to the next level! React away.


I hope this guide gave you some useful tips to master emoji reactions and elevate your Instagram conversations.

Reactions present exciting ways to respond to messages beyond just the standard written replies.

Use them thoughtfully to add color and personality to your messaging. Customize your defaults to reflect your style. Troubleshoot issues as Instagram continues expanding the feature.

Most importantly, balance reactions with substantive conversations to nurture your Instagram relationships.

Now put these tips into action! React to enrich your connections through messaging. Happy Instagramming!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.