Earlier in 2013, Facebook jumped on-board the hashtag “#” bandwagon and started supporting hashtags. Facebook was late to the party (I mean #latetotheparty).
Hashtags are a phenomenon started by Twitter in 2009, who introduced them so users could mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and almost every major social media platform (with the exception of YouTube) are now using hashtags. Hashtags have even managed to make the jump online to traditional forms of advertising like television and print. Rarely an advert is seen now that does not have its own hashtag which consumers are then encouraged to adopt so they can represent their favourite brands on social media.
The “#” formerly known as the pound sign is so commonplace in the social media environment that it has to be considered as a significant tool for any social media marketing campaign.
The power of the hashtags is well known to social marketers. Its usage allows brands to identify what is currently trending and to engage with people while promoting their own content simultaneously. When hashtags are used correctly they can extend your reach across the web and bring you swarms of followers to your content but what is the best way to implement them.
Create a Buzz Through Interaction
Get some buzz created around your product. Use hashtags to interact with your customers. Ask your followers questions to encourage engagement with your product. The 2012 #MakeItCount campaign from Nike is a perfect example of social media engagement. Nike asked fans what they were doing with their lives to make it count. It generated a lot of buzz on twitter and the promotional video alone has had 9.8m views on YouTube.
Customise Your Hashtag
Create a hashtag identifier unique to your brand or product. A bit of creativity will resonate with customers and everyone secretly loves a good slogan. A little bit of humour works well also. K-Mart did this very successfully and recieved thousands of likes and shares with their respective #ShipMyPants and #BigGasSaving campaign.
Search for specific terms relevant to your industry, it is the best way to keep up to speed with the developments happening within your market. Investigate the competition to ensure your keeping ahead of them or invest in hastag tracking tools to analyse the data around specific hastag use.
Pair with Popular Tags
There’s nothing wrong with piggybacking your hastag onto a trending topic. For example #hashtagstats would link with #analytics or #socialmedia. Picking pairs that have a clear connection will allow your hastag to have maximum impact.
Online audiences are a demanding bunch. If you want them to re-tweet your posts and help with your marketing activities you may have to give them something. Providing your customers with incentives in the form of discounts based on how many re-tweets you receive or a competition prize offered to the person who comes up with an idea for your brand is a very effective strategy.
However as with any social media strategy there is always the possibility that things might not turn out exactly how you wanted which can lead to embarrassing situations #Fail. Try to avoid breaching hashtag etiquette. Stringing too many words together in one hashtag well not go down well with unforgiving tweeters nor will jumping on a trend with absolutely no relevance to your post (see #Fail).
It costs nothing to start a basic hashtag campaign so why not give it a go. Just remember to keep it concise, relevant and have a strategy. Lastly try to keep the hashtags on the screen, don’t be that person who uses hashtags in normal speech.
By Sam Shedden