Hashtags have become a necessity in social media and digital marketing. You’ll hardly see a tweet or Instagram post without that little # symbol involved. This allows you to get involved in the conversation, or to search topics that you’re interested in, particularly on Twitter or Instagram. However, Facebook has recently joined the bandwagon.
There have been many very successful hashtag driven campaigns, however, there have also been many failures. If you follow this guide in creating your own, you should become a Hashtag Hero, not a zero.
So, Why Use Hashtags?
If you want your brand to get noticed or to be a part of the conversation, you will want to be using hashtags. If used or created correctly, they will direct the audience you want to your brand. It can also be a bit of fun if you make them humorous or quirky. Some brands have gone from barely recognisable, to immensely popular by using them.
Creating Your Hashtag
Keep It Brief
Avoid creating long hashtags, keep it to the point or abbreviate words. People aren’t going to be searching for long phrases, and when a tweet can only be 140 characters, every letter counts! Don’t waste those characters on hashtags that won’t bring in any engagement and are too specific. For example I wouldn’t use #fifteendesigndigitalagency, instead I could use either #fifteendesign or #digitalagency at most!
Spark A Conversation
You want to be creating a hashtag that will spark a conversation, something that your customer base can get involved in, which will therefore create brand awareness. For example, Red Bull created the hashtag #PutACanOnIt where almost 10,000 photos were created by the public with their Red Bull cans in different positions. This campaign ended up becoming the winner in the hashtag category at the Shorty Awards in 2015.
Work With The Trends Or Current Events
If there are any events or tags trending at the time, get involved with them, as long as they are relevant to your brand. If you’re a fashion brand, then get involved with the hashtags that appear during Fashion Week such as #LFW or #NYFW. If you’re a food brand, keep an eye out for hashtags that appear on National food days, such as #WorldChocolateDay or #NationalCoffeeDay.
Link With Your Campaign
If you’re thinking of running a strong campaign, a hashtag is essential. These can then be used on your campaign artwork or adverts, so that customers can find you or get involved on social media. A perfect example of this is the This Girl Can campaign. The campaign was aimed to encourage women of all ages, shapes and sizes to get up and get fit. Quite simply the name of the campaign became the hashtag #ThisGirlCan, so when someone got up and got involved in a fitness activity, if they posted about it on their social media, they could end it with the hashtag and help motivate someone else to get involved.
How To Avoid A Hashtag Fail
Don’t Follow All Trending Hashtags
It may be tempting to pop a trending hashtag at the end of that tweet, thinking that it will bring in more customers, but be careful! It may be to do with a sensitive subject and this can end up drawing in more bad than good to your brand. Hashtags to do with catastrophic events will be trending, as people will be paying their respects, so only use it if you’re doing the same too.
Proofread For Any Hidden Meanings Or Mistakes
There have been many occasions where brands have brought in plenty of attention, but for the wrong reasons. Always double-check your hashtag before sending them off, as there can often be hidden meanings. If you’re using several words within the tag, sometimes when combined, they can create a double entendre. For example, Susan Boyles PR team had their face in their palms after posting #susanalbumparty. It was meant to be totally innocent to promote her latest album at the time, it was meant to read as Susan Album Party. However, people were noticing that it was also coming across as something a little more naughty. I’ll leave that for you to see for yourselves.
Don’t Over Do It
You do not need 100’s of hashtags to get noticed, if anything it’s just plain annoying! You will also end up with an audience that is completely irrelevant to your brand, or even spam. Use a maximum of 15 tags on a Instagram and about 5 on Twitter, so pick them wisely!