How to #Hashtag

By: Chase Davis

Once upon a time, hashtags were just those pesky jumbles of words typed as one stream of conscious that made Twitter a very confusing place in its early days.

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However you first felt about them (or still feel about them), there’s no denying that hashtags have caught onto the rest of our online media outlets like wildfire. They’ve gone from vague cultural references to useful marketing tools and success trackers as public information and opinion continues to shift toward social media. It’s natural for us as curious humans to want to know what’s most current and/or #trending, which is where hashtags come in. They can help categorize information into streams or feeds in the overwhelming world of social media. They can also encourage participation, sharing and even community. Consider the recent #metoo, #blacklivesmatter and #ALSicebucketchallenge campaigns - they brought people together, made an impact and also helped people find those stories and share their own. Brands and businesses can use hashtags in a similar way to create a community with their customers and fans.

So how do you get your customers to participate in your hashtag? Posting and displaying your business’s social accounts or custom hashtag on either packaging or at P.O.S. will urge customers to both check you out online and post content related to your business on their own social media - excellent advertising that can help establish a brand voice and comes at little to no cost to you! All of the content you put out to your customers should also use your hashtag appropriately. Find fun ways to incorporate the hashtag into your captions, graphics, content and even contests and giveaways. But before choosing a hashtag, be sure to check it out on multiple platforms to make sure it isn’t already in use by another company or individual. This means your hashtag will need to be specific, but easy to remember.

Just like your brand’s activity on social media - your hashtags should be consistent. Clean branding should always be consistent when it comes to spellings, capitalization, acronyms, etc. These same rules especially apply to your hashtag for the purpose of correctly tagging and tracking its posts but also for the sake of keeping your brand voice the same across multiple formats. At the end of the day, a good hashtag should be adhering to and enhancing a previously established brand voice.

If you need inspiration for great hashtag campaigns by national companies and organizations, check out this post of the Shorty Award’s hashtag nominees from last year and view previous years’ winners. You can even nominate your favorite hashtag for the 2018 awards.