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When Hashtags Aren’t Enough: Adding @Mentions to Your UGC Strategy

Sprinklr Team

January 28, 2021  •  3 min read

On December 11th, Facebook is changing how digital marketing platforms will connect to hashtag content from Instagram with new modern APIs. As a Facebook Marketing Partner, Sprinklr has been working closely with Instagram adapting to these changes.

The new API, which is based on Facebook Graph API, includes many new benefits which will enable powerful new features in Sprinklr. It also includes the depreciation of capabilities that have been long associated with Instagram. These changes will help brands navigate working with hashtag based UGC in ways that protect user privacy and ensure users are intentionally trying to connect with brands regarding their content.

The problem with the way hashtag based UGC has worked traditionally is that hashtags are not registered or owned like web domains or social accounts are. Any brand can promote a hashtag, even ones used by other brands, or started organically by creators. No brand can claim the hashtag is owned by them, even if they have branded terms in the hashtag. This means that historically, just because a brand promotes a hashtag, it has always been a bit unclear if the creator that included that same hashtag in their post was doing so because of the brand’s promotion or if they used it coincidentally. If the brand wanted to feature the Instagram post in some way, they would DM the creator asking for permission. If the creator wasn’t aware that they were participating in the hashtag promotion, this could come across as a bit jarring regarding their privacy.

With the new changes, Instagram is asking brands to ask their fan creators to include @mention of the brand when posting content using a hashtag if part of a promotion or campaign. Because only the brand owns the @account, it cannot be misconstrued in any way that the creator wasn’t trying to notify the brand of the post. This essentially creates an opt in.

The first step to adopt this new Instagram UGC approach is to include a call to action as part of the campaign that says something like, “@Mention us on your post and use #hashtag for a chance to be featured.”

Apple, for example, invites Instagrammers to use the hashtag #ShotoniPhone for a chance to have their photos and videos featured on their brand account. With these new changes, they could simply restate the message on their Instagram profile to say, “Everyone has a story to tell. Tag #ShotoniPhone and @apple to take part.

Apple Instagram

Once your fans get used to adding @mentions to their posts, finding “opt in” Instagram UGC will be a breeze. Additionally, on Sprinklr’s Social Listening platform, you’ll be able to interact directly with posts that @mention your brand, ask for permission to feature these posts directly, and search through Instagram Stories with @mentions, and gather valuable engagement data about your audience.

So, how do you prompt your audience to start using @mentions? That’s simple: Just ask them. Include the call-to-action in your Instagram bio, Instagram posts, and Instagram Stories that call for submissions. Make it clear that, if they want their posts to be seen, they should tag your brand and use your campaign hashtag. This way, customers can make their voices heard and your brand can gain access to unique content that helps tell your story and drive social engagement.

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