Social Media, Digital Marketing

Hashtags 101

We’ve all seen it a million times: # – aka the hashtag (aka, before the dawn of social media, the pound sign). The hashtag has become a recognizable social media trait on many platforms, especially Twitter and Instagram. Audiences see them everywhere: in tweets promoting a company’s new product, in the caption of a photo on a small business’ Instagram account, or even in an educational piece that a consulting firm published on their Linkedin page. Let’s dive a little bit deeper into hashtags and how companies can use them effectively.

Hashtag Functionality

Think of a hashtag as a giant web and at the end of each web strand is a person seeking out topic-specific content within a social media platform. When the hashtag symbol gets used in a social media post, the message behind the symbol gets grouped together with other posts that have used the same hashtag.

For example, if a Twitter user wanted to find information about the Chicago Air & Water Show, that user can type #AirAndWaterShow into the Twitter search and Twitter will provide a list of all the tweets that contain that hashtag.

Hashtagging and Branding

Hashtags are a fantastic way of promoting a company’s products and services, but they also serve as a means of demonstrating that company’s personality and values. The right wording and placement of a hashtag can spark curiosity, lead to increased audience engagement, and result in a better overall perception of that company in a digital setting.

For example, let’s say a law firm wants to set itself apart from its competitors. The firm wants to launch a campaign that demonstrates their sense of compassion and empathy for their clients. So, they start utilizing a simple #WeCare hashtag in their social media posts. When a person needs to utilize the services of a law firm, that person wants to feel like an individual, not a number. There is a certain level of empathy that potential clients wish to feel from their attorney. In this sense, a hashtag can serve as a means of setting the tone and establishing a company’s brand.

Hashtagging as a Promotional Tool

Companies use hashtags for a variety of reasons, but here are three of the most popular ways companies choose to utilize them.

1. Promoting Services

A hashtag is a great organic way to get an online conversation going about a company’s products and services at a very low cost (actually, at no cost!). A great example of this is when KFC decided to take part in the trending #NationalFriedChickenDay hashtag and launch a hashtag campaign centered around NFCD. The company took advantage of an already-trending topic and incorporated it into their brand, effectively pushing their product into the mix and capturing a larger share of the fried chicken market.

2. Promoting a Slogan

Like the law firm example, hashtagging a slogan is an excellent way of demonstrating a company’s personality and flair. Slogans and taglines have a lot of brand awareness-building potential. Think about it – when you think of McDonald’s (#ImLovinIt) you can probably hear the “buh duh buh buh buh, I’m lovin’ it” jingle in your head. Mobilizing slogans via hashtags can lead to a ton of free branding awareness activity.

3. Promoting a Social Cause

Companies often align themselves with social causes that they care about – they want to help contribute by acting as a spokesperson or representative of that cause. Standing behind a cause can lead to attention from audience members who care about it as well. Perhaps the best example of this is when Disney, in conjunction with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, launched the #ShareYourEars campaign. Disney pledged to donate $5.00 for every Twitter user who tweeted a photo of themselves wearing Mickey Mouse ears with the #ShareYourEars hashtag in the body of the tweet. When all was said and done, Disney donated over $2 million. Talk about an effective hashtag marketing campaign!

Did we miss anything about hashtags? Need more information on hashtags that we didn’t cover here? Let’s talk. Feel free to contact our team at MA1440.

MA1440 is a marketing consulting and digital agency located in Glenview, IL – serving small and mid-sized businesses locally and nationally.

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