“Why is there a pound sign in front of that word?” – every grandparent ever.
The hashtag. The ability to tag a relevant word or phrase on social networking sites to categorize and identify messages related to certain topics. A tool that originated on Twitter has now spread to social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ etc. as a way to differentiate posts or connect them to a current trend.
In the early days of social, it doesn’t seem so long ago that we were all mindlessly using hashtags in every tweet or post. “I just had lunch today! #sandwich #yummy”… “Love my new car! #fast #car #new”
What started out as an overly used joke, has evolved into an essential tool in marketing and social networking. The “language of the internet” is constantly evolving along with social media.
The Modernization of Hashtags
Aside from social media, hashtags are now connected to almost every TV show, movie campaign, celebrity, political campaign, sporting event, breaking news etc. Basically you can’t go anywhere without seeing some form of hashtag promoting something. These hashtags can be specially promoted for individuals to use in order to interact with each other, promote anticipation, and see related news connected to the product or event.
Finding the Right Hashtag
Finding the perfect hashtag can be much more difficult for some compared to others. For largely known events or brands, it can be as simple as just putting a hashtag in front of your name or the event. For example, the tags #SuperBowl50 and #SB50 generated an amazing 28.4 million tweets during the last super bowl event (fatbuzz).
But what about the campaigns that have to get more creative to reach their audience?
Make it simple, but unique. Keep in mind, on Twitter the character limit per tweet is 140 characters so the shorter the hashtag the better. Try a few words or a memorable phrase that evokes emotion or incorporates humor.
Brands Utilizing Pop Culture Trends
Unless you live under a rock, there are some trends that are impossible to ignore. Even if you don’t “get it”, chances are a lot of other people do, including your followers.
These trends may have no rhyme or reason, but they are a major opportunity for your brand to join in on real-time conversations and most importantly establish your brand’s personality.
For example, the massive “Damn Danial” trend that swept 2016. The viral video is a high schooler following his friend Daniel around and saying “Damnnnn Daniel, back it again with the white vans!” every day Daniel was wearing the white shoes. Seems pretty simple and strange to some, but the tweet has 333,000+ retweets and 468,000+ likes on Twitter.
Brands took notice…
Timeliness is everything because we all know that trends don’t last. These brands jumped on the trend almost immediately and joined in on the sensation that was sweeping the internet. Timeliness and creativity can go a long way when it comes to social trends.
Hashtags can be successfully utilized throughout campaigns to establish brand identity, increase your following, or sell product. Hashtags can completely shape the identity of a campaign.
The #ShareACoke campaign was a huge success for Coca-Cola. The personalization and shareability of the campaign caught on like wildfire. The campaign was introduced in Australia in 2011, and the campaign saw a 7% increase in Coke consumption. It finally made its way to the US in 2014; the company saw a 2.5% increase in total sales and soft-drink volume went up by 0.4% (Incitrio).
Branded hashtag emojis are now taking over Twitter. Specific hashtags are now followed by an automatically generated custom emoji to give the tag a visual appeal.
We’ve sure come a long way from “Just had dinner! #pizza #good #food”. Hashtags are an integral part of marketing campaigns and branding, and they’re only evolving.