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How @ links on Instagram are pushing marketing

Instagram is changing its APIs and marketers their strategy.
By Katharina Nottmeier September 11, 2018

To strengthen their own brand and pursue a successful marketing strategy, companies are increasingly relying on transparent communication with their customers and potential customers. A continuous exchange strengthens customer brand loyalty. One way brands can promote this exchange and improve transparency and trust is to integrate user-generated content (UGC) into a solid visual marketing strategy.

Social networks like Instagram are particularly well suited to direct communication with the target group. With its hashtag sovereignty, Instagram enables users and brands to communicate in a targeted manner using keywords. At least, it has been this way up to now. With the change to the Instagram API this is not quite so easy anymore.

To better protect users’ privacy and reduce spam on the platform, companies can no longer respond with comments to content that has a hashtag such as a brand name.

At first glance, this seems to be a hindrance. But the use of hashtags has not been an indication that a user wants to communicate with a brand for some time now.

So both companies and influencers actually lacked the possibility of direct mutual contact with the use of hashtags alone.

The new Instagram API changes this and provides a clear alternative: @ links. In the future, a company can only address a user and react to their content if the user adds an @ link, such as @Kempinski, to their content. But when they do so, it is targeted and effective. Conversely, the use of @ links enables users to clearly express their desire for direct communication with the company.

“By placing greater emphasis on @ links, Instagram predicts that links and photo tags are better indicators that a consumer is ready to enter into a dialog with a brand,” says Pau Sabria, co-founder of Olapic.

The new regulation thus allows companies better control over content associated with the brand and provides the impetus for more efficient contact. At the same time, however, it presents them with a great challenge. How does a company get its community to use @ links?

Pau Sabria has compiled four tips for the right strategy:

  1. Encourage the use of hashtags in connection with @ links: because hashtags remain “an important key for marketing to understand social media users and industry trends.”
  2. Advertise @ links via the company’s own channels (social media, websites, etc.). The brand itself is a role model. Only if the importance of @ links is made clear in a company’s own channels will the community use them.
  3. Adding @ links to print products, such as packaging. Although print products and Instagram have no direct connection at first glance, packaging, flyers, etc. are still noticed. Also by Instagram users.
  4. Encourage employees and influencers to pass on the message. Use word of mouth to promote @ links.

If you want to learn more about the topic, visit Olapic’s lecture on the first day of the trade fair, at 5.30 pm (Experience Stage), on “Trust, Credibility and Authenticity in an Anti-Ad World”. Bernhard Schmidt, Head of Online Communication & Content at Thomas Sabo, Brett Zucker, CMO of Monotype and Jose de Cabo, co-founder of Olapic will be speaking.

DMEXCO exhibitor Olapic will show how this strategy can be implemented using the example of one of Europe’s largest luxury hotel chains. The best case is available exclusively to download here.

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