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instagram marketingInstagram has introduced a new feature designed to help brands promote user-generated content and boost the popularity of its Stories format.

The @ symbol appears if your account has current mentions in other users’ public Stories. The new feature displays the total count of Story mentions available to add to your Stories. Marketing managers can easily re-share them in their own Stories stream.

Up to now, the only way to re-post Story content from a mention was through direct message, where an account gets notified if it’s mentioned in a user’s Story, as Marketing Land notes. The new option centralizes the information in one location in users’ Create mode. Social media managers can now sort through all mentions more easily to determine which content to post. At this stage, it’s not clear if it’s available to all users.

May Boost User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) can include customer photos of the brand’s products, favorable comments, or endorsements and product reviews by influencers. Many marketers praise sharing USG as an effective PR and marketing strategy. Research has revealed that UGC can generate 6.9x higher engagement than brand-generated content on Facebook because consumers trust recommendations of other consumers more than brands.

To gather UGC content, social media managers typically employ social media listening, contests or offer free products or other incentives to those who submit photos, videos or testimonials.

Despite Instagram’s improved functionality, marketers still need to consider rights of UGC content. Experts recommend that brands spell out the conditions for contests and request permission to reuse content.

“It may well be worth taking a look through your Stories mentions regularly, with a view to amplifying relevant messages, adding a level of social proof via customer comments” advises Andrew Hutchinson at Social Media Today.

Time for Instagram Stories

The new feature may provide impetus for marketers considering the Stories format, in which posts vanish after 24 hours unless added to your profile as permanent “highlights.” Because the content will only live for 24 hours, the content itself doesn’t have to be as polished as a normal post. Many marketers say Instagram Stories is essential for brands targeting millennials and Generation Z members.

The new mention feature option also helps improve influencer marketing.

Instagram has previously stated that it’s investigating more ways for brands to amplify content from influencers. Tools like the new Mentions feature show a clear step in that direction, notes Taylor Peterson, Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, in Marketing Land.

Last year, Instagram introduced “branded content ads” that allow marketers to promote influencers’ sponsored posts beyond just their followers. The ads can appear in users’ feeds as well as Instagram Stories. The branded content ads could help marketers combine organic and paid advertising strategies, enabling marketing and PR teams to sponsor an influencer’s organic posts that receive outsized engagement and, at the same time, to promote them beyond the influencer’s followers.

Bottom Line: A new Instagram option will likely help marketers share content from customers, influencers and others. Since Instagram offers a valuable marketing channel for brands, it’s important for brands to stay informed about its latest developments.