It’s been a month since the New Year, just enough time for most people to forget about their resolutions. You may laugh, but it’s true.
So, how can you ensure that your brand stays relevant and remain top of mind after thrill is gone? Enter, the hashtag! Hashtags have become an immensely popular and effective way to communicate and find content on social media.
That’s right! What used to be a punctuation mark or a numeric symbol on the keyboard has now evolved into a metadata tag. The idea was proposed by Chris Messina in a tweet back in 2007 and since then, it has gained so much traction that the word hashtag was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014. Millennials, politicians and celebrities use it. Do we need another reason to capitalize on it?
A great hashtag is one of the most powerful tools you can use to market your business through social channels. Events, Twitter profiles, trending topics, marketing campaigns and more can be covered by a single hashtag, across the web. With the right hashtag, you can connect with your audience easily, get discovered by new prospects, track and curate what people are posting about your brand. Every time someone uses a hashtag tied to your brand, they spread your message to their own followers. Cool, right!
If you’re still at a loss as to where and how to use hashtags, here are 4 essential tips that will help to inexpensively increase your mindshare on socials.
Research, Research, Research!
Long and complicated hashtags are a turn-off and in a blink of an eye, you’ll lose your audience. On the other hand, even the shortest hashtag can give way to misinterpretations and the whole thing can go south, as in the case of Burger King (BK) and its obliviously launched #WTFF campaign. The fast food chain suffered a backlash in the form of mocking tweets and memes, with the launch of their lower-fat French fry, using the hashtag #WTFF (What The French Fry). Careful research prior to the launch would have warned BK that the hashtag is commonly used to express profanity, and likely to backfire, especially in terms of marketing and promotion spend.
When it comes to hashtags, you need to plan ahead – research, research, research! Before you choose a hashtag for your campaign, you need to know what’s popular with your audience – what are they interested in and why? Find out what is relevant to your brand, what social influencers are saying, and also what the trending content is in terms of adding value to your business. The hashtag you create must resonate with your audience. It must be clear enough for them to identify with quickly, and easily draw a positive reference to – from something they hear or see in their daily lives.
The Right Channel
Be mindful of the platform that you’re running your campaign on, so that you can tailor your content accordingly. Linking it across platforms is great but what works for one may not work well with another.
The #MeToo campaign, for example, worked very well on social platforms, but had greater success via Twitter. Women who were abused and harassed felt empowered to stand up and speak up about the abuse, galvanized by the hashtag. Twitter allowed the victims to share their stories virally, while at the same time, respecting their privacy. The #MeToo hashtag caught on quickly and sparked a global movement and call for change and protection from abuse, not only for women but for men too.
Meanwhile, you can say that the fashion industry has it easy when it comes to social media campaigns, and Instagram is most effective. With a series of hashtags, they can tap on social influencers and mobile-savvy customers – and reel them in with targeted hashtags, images and videos, pertaining to trends, new collections, stores nearby, as well as other interesting fashion titbits.
Call to Action
Don’t just focus on promos – focus on organic reach. Work towards engagement with your audience through a call to action, such as encouraging them to tweet or post their own pictures using the hashtag you created. A great example is Disney’s viral campaign, in collaboration with the Make-A-Wish foundation that got people to share their photos, complete with Mickey Mouse ears with the hashtag #ShareYourEars on Instagram.
Likewise, Calvin Klein encourages shoppers to post in Calvin Klein undergarments with the hashtag #MyCalvins.
Strike a Chord
The most successful hashtag campaigns do not solely focus on marketing the brands; rather, they seek to strike a chord with their audience. As in the case of Disney’s #ShareYourEars campaign, the charitable nature of donating $5 for each user post to the Make-A-Wish foundation, contributed to the campaign’s virality and ultimately Disney’s reputation as a socially responsible brand.
By incorporating a social message in your hashtag campaign, it not only helps to create a positive brand image, it also repurposes your message to a wider audience. Another example of a brand that does it right is Always, a feminine care product brand that made its entire social media marketing about empowering women, primarily through its #LikeAGirl campaign launched in 2014.
When it comes to social media marketing, your hashtags are the key to your SEO and visibility of your content, and can be an essential component to building brand awareness across platforms. If used wisely and correctly, your business is bound to see an uptake in customer engagement and sales.
Posted by Brintha Shree, CorpMedia