Since its first use in 2007, the hashtag has spread from Twitter to almost all major social media networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, and even Pinterest to some extent. With hashtags pervasive everywhere, we wanted to take a look again at how your brand can use hashtags with success, on any social media platform.
Hashtags have a number of uses, and it’s crucial to understand their purpose. You can use a hashtag to improve searchability, to tap into trends, to create a conversation around your brand, inject a bit of humor into your post (or all of these at the same time!). It all comes down to your objectives.
It’s worth restating: hashtags improve your searchability. On social media networks, where there are reams and reams of information to sift through, users often search for certain hashtags that correspond to their demands and desires. By using a hashtag, you can tap into a popular conversation that is relevant to your brand and become a key contributor to that conversation’s shape and consequences. It’s a whole new way of thinking about categorization, and a great way to give your posts more exposure.
By creating a hashtag to associate with a product, campaign, or event, you give users (and yourself) a way to keep a conversation going with your brand. For example, Domino’s UK successfully started a Twitter campaign, where every time users Tweeted the hashtag #letsdolunch, the price of one type of Domino’s pizza would drop by one pence the next day. 85,000 users participated, and the price dropped by almost 50%, from £15.99 to £7.74.
While Domino’s UK might have lost a few pounds on sales that day, it more than made up for that by the tremendous amount of interest generated by the campaign.
Hashtags can be added for comedic value––in this way, they can function much like the punchline of a joke. While you should be careful about being offensive or cheesy, some brands have had a lot of success. Charmin created a wildly successful campaign by coining the hashtag #TweetFromtheSeat to describe the use of social media when ‘engaged’ in the bathroom.
Users retweeted the term en masse and it became a viral sensation, leading to a lot of great publicity for Charmin and their clever Twitter marketing skills.
Be careful about how many hashtags you use in your brand’s posts. Just as using too many hashtags is generally considered bad form on personal profiles, it applies doubly for brands. Abusing hashtags is bad practice, and can be a major red flag for users, regardless of network.
We looked at branded posts on Facebook and Twitter over a three month period, and our findings support that consensus. According to Socialbakers data, more hashtags used on Facebook result in less engagement, while using just one hashtag seems to be better than not using any at all. On the other hand, interactions on Twitter rise when brands are in the sweet-spot of three to five hashtags.
The number of hashtags you use is irrelevant if your content quality is not up to par with your audience’s expectations. However, if you are using hashtags to complement Tweets, Posts, and Grams that are relevant to your audiences – you’ll be just fine.
Remember, to keep your posts on a spare hashtag diet. If you over do it, you might not get the most out of your stellar content.
Understand your audience, create more effective content to engage and grow your customer base, and measure social media’s impact on your business goals.