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Mentions > Hashtags: Getting users to engage more with your brand on Instagram.

Back in 2018, Facebook announced a number of API changes aimed at getting a better handle on how apps, developers, and brands access and use people’s information, in an effort to improve data privacy and security. One of those changes was that mentions gained absolute importance and the hashtag had to take the back seat.

In this article, we’ll explore why brands have the opportunity to establish a better dialogue with their customers through mentions, the current status of hashtags in social media, and some of the best-practices for you to keep collecting and activating the best performing user-generated content.

Quality over quantity.

To improve the content quality, Instagram decided to do a turn-around and focus attention on @mentions. With this adjustment, they redefine the way that users “talk” with a brand. This is a more precise and intentional indicator to identify customers that wants to create a connection with the brand.

With this, Facebook and Instagram not only reduce spam or irrelevant content, but it allows brands to have better control of their communities. Instagram already predicted that photographic mentions and tags were actually better indicators that a consumer was prepared to engage in conversation with a brand. Hashtags aren’t unique, but @ handles are.

But we love hashtags, right?

We do! It doesn’t matter what social media you use, you can’t avoid them. However, they’re just not the greatest marketing tool they once were to find and collect relevant content from Social Media.

By using mentions, you’re having a more precise and trustworthy indicator to identify a brand-consumer dialogue and capture the best user-generated content.

Best practices to get your customers to @mention your brand.

In order to really connect with your audience on social media, it will be important to teach users how to use @mentions together with specific hashtags to gain a more holistic understanding of your brand’s social engagement. Encourage them to tag you for a chance to be featured on your account, and add a short call to action.

Highlight @Mentions on your digital properties.

  • Social media profiles
  • Website / e-commerce
  • Photo Gallery
  • In-App
  • Olapic Widgets

Don’t forget Print matters too!

Update your printed materials such as signage, billboards, receipts, packaging, and shopping bags to also include your brand’s @mention

Spread the Word.

  • Use Instagram Stories, emails, and post-purchase instructions to let people know that they should start using @mentions for a chance to be featured by the brand.
  • Tell employees and influencers to start @mentioning you on social and encourage customers to follow suit.


While some may consider these measures as obstacles to communication, we see them as an opportunity to build more intentional relationships with customers that will result in better, more relevant content. Collecting from @mentions is the new normal and it’s a clear indicator that the consumer wants to enter into a dialogue with the brand.

At the same time, hashtags aren’t what they used to be -and can’t be used to collect content from social media anymore- but they shouldn’t completely be taken out of the marketers’ handbook yet. They should serve as a help for you to search, find, and organize content.

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