Hashtags used to be the king of Instagram, but if your brand is ignoring tags and mentions, you’re missing a big piece of the IG puzzle. Brands that encourage mentions and tags over hashtags are more likely to increase quality interactions with actual customers and prospects that are more likely to buy. In fact, photos and videos with specific mentions and tags are four percent more likely to lead to eCommerce revenue as ads, on homepages, on product description pages and every UGC use case — likely because it’s a more sophisticated poster.

Mentions and Tags Win for UGC

Mentions can make it easier to ask for rights or permissions to use the content contained in a post where you are mentioned. User-generated content is some of the most powerful content a brand can harness. Searching through your brand mentions lets your cut past lower quality engagements that are more likely found in hashtags. Plus, you’re interacting with people who have already expressed interest in hearing a response from your brand. It’s a win-win for a marketing and customer engagement experience.

About 75% of people are likely to share good experiences on their own profiles or pages. If that includes a shot of your product, you’re in great shape. Get permission for the image and then use it in emails, product pages, and your own social media accounts. You’ve turned one happy customer post into multiple broadcasts about your brand.

If you need another reason to look for UGC that mentions your brand, here it is: 25% of search results for the largest 20 brands on the planet are backlinks to UGC that mentions them. All of these interactions are a boon for your search efforts, both on the platform and overall SEO.

It’s Harder to Hijack a Brand in Mentions

Even cleverly branded hashtags can be immolated by a witty competitor or a customer who had a less-than-perfect experience with your brand. One big reason to focus on getting people to mention you is that they’re speaking directly to or about you, and there’s less room for a pun or swipe at temporary marketing. Yes, you will get complaints, but you’re not giving trolls or competitors a forum to bash your brand.

Seeking mentions will redirect this towards positive and constructive feedback. At the very least, there’s decreased risk of a new follower to click on a hashtag and see thousands piling up on your brand — and that means they might not think to jump on the bandwagon.

When in Doubt, Encourage the @

The core takeaway is that mentions and tags are a great source of high-quality engagement and UGC for brands on Instagram. Overlooking them might mean you’re missing out on a core engagement point with your target audience while missing out on the most on-brand UGC.