The hashtag has come a long way since its inception in 2007. In a way, it’s a big reason why Twitter became such a phenomenon in the world of social media marketing. Since then, the hashtag has taken many roller coaster rides and seems to have become the Internet’s newest chatroom, creating space to create, monitor and reply. Brands are using hashtags in creative ways to develop forum-like atmospheres for consumers to talk and express themselves freely —both positively and negatively.
Hashtags have expanded into the world of many different apps and social networks. Instagram’s hashtags are utilized well, almost like a catalog for users to label, find and share photos (and now videos) around the world in real time. Facebook, the most “personal” social network, also integrated hashtags, though to some dismay. With privacy issues, it may take some time for it to be a full-on hashtag-fueled network like Twitter.
Although hashtags can be fun, creative and used in strategic ways, they can also be overused, overdone and just plain too long! Let’s take a look at some best practices brands should consider when creating and using hashtags.
A lot of the same hashtags frequently trend and may be useful when reaching a broader audience. But when attempting to establish a name for your brand on social media, creating an original, eye-catching and memorable hashtag will set yourself apart. For example, Home Depot shares useful and fun content using #HDHacks, while Starbucks has started a movement with #TreatReceipt. In short, personalize.
A lot of strategy in digital marketing is predicting every scenario. If A happens, I’m going to make sure C does not happen, or, if it does, we implement D. Hashtag campaigns work the same way! Making sure the hashtag being used or created is appropriate, timely and enticing will secure the engagement intended.
I think we’ve all been annoyed by overuse of the hashtag. Does your photo really need 15 hashtags, 10 of which have nothing to do with the photo? One of the worst hashtag crimes may have to be #ThatTimeWhenPeopleUseTheLongestHashtagToProveAPoint. That’s a no-no; brands need to be simple and get to the point of the campaign. I could go on and on about what not to do, but I think I’ll let Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake sum it up here.
One of the greatest uses a brand can utilize hashtags for is monitoring its audience. Whether it is through a campaign or just looking for brand trends, monitoring hashtags will give you an idea of not only what consumers are saying, but when to chime in, add to the conversation and even do some damage control, if necessary.
Hashtags seem to be sticking around for the foreseeable future, so use them to your full advantage! Don’t forget to consider adding and creating them to your next social campaign—it may be the next metric you analyze! And luckily, there are many different sites to help track hashtags and trending topics, such as Hashtags.org.
How have you used hashtags in social campaigns? Share your experience in the comment section below!
Photo Credit: Digibuzzme
Zakir Ghazi is an Associate Technologist for Kuno Creative. He enjoys going to concerts and keeping up on all the latest social media and technology trends. Connect with Zakir on Twitter and Linkedin.