Since the introduction of the DSGVO (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe, a lot has changed for companies. Because: The Instagram API has also been redesigned to protect user data and prevent abuse. For companies, this means a few changes to the hashtag content, but at the same time it creates a whole new opportunity many companies have been waiting for years.

In the past, brands could only do this if the post contained their hashtag. Hashtags are used on Instagram for thematic referrals and increasing reach and are part of campaigns, but often the content has nothing to do with your brand. The use of hashtags has increased dramatically and some users deliberately use many popular hashtags to get more coverage. It also happens that people use your corporate hashtag, even though your image is not related to your brand / business. The new feature that you can find your customers’ @mentions contributions ensures that the content is associated with your business. Now, when customers upload an image and link you to it, you have a clear indication that the customer is connecting their post with you, and you have a direct opportunity to respond and interact with your customers. While hashtags still exist, @mentions will be the new way of communicating between brands and their clients on Instagram.

What does the change mean for companies?

Now more than ever, businesses have the opportunity to take advantage of privacy concerns and the changes within the industry to better engage with their customers and put consumers at the heart of a brand’s marketing strategy. One way in which brands can enhance transparency and trust is to incorporate User Generated Content (UGC) into a visual marketing strategy. But how do you get your customers to link the companies in the posts with the @mention? For this you have to actively advertise your @mention as a company. For example, customers who do not actively follow your business on Instagram do not know what you’re communicating via your platform. Therefore, it is also important to promote your account name on your offline platforms. For example, you can set up small signs in the shops where you ask your customers to follow you on social media and for them to link you to their content. Update your print ads such as billboards, receipts, packaging and signs to get the word out about the @mention of your brand. But do not neglect your online channels! Post Instagram stories, send emails with instructions on how to use your @mentions and make your @mention name easily visible on the site. Because when users link a company via the @mention it increases the likelihood that they respond positively to a picture request and are happy to provide you with their image. 

Other technological changes from Instagram 

From now on there is less information available about the users. Although the new hashtag API still delivers the content, it no longer delivers information about the users. As mentioned above, Facebook protects the privacy of users and prevents the mass read-out of these data. Also, you cannot search for as many hashtags as you want to anymore. Especially if you search Instagram for hashtags using the API, there is now a limit of 30 hashtags per user within a 7 day window.

Therefore, it is now more important than ever for companies to focus on the @mentions to generate user-generated content.

About Anthea Bruger

Anthea was part of the squarelovin team from 2018 to 2019. In addition to her marketing management studies at the Northern Business School, she supported the marketing team, in content creation as an expert for all things Instagram.

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