If you’ve ever gone online, then you’re undoubtedly aware of the “hashtag” and the powerful presence it has on social media. While you can and should make use of industry-specific hashtags in your social media content marketing, if you really want your social media to stand out, then creating and promoting branded hashtags is one way to do it. With customized hashtags for your brand, you can localize your audience, track engagement, and magnify your brand’s visibility and social media success.
Hashtags are one of the most universally applicable and effective tools in social media marketing. They allow you to track topics, catalog discussions, market events, and according to Twitter’s own research, can double the user engagement for individuals and increase brand engagement by 50%. Everyone knows what hashtags are, and their immediate familiarity means they can be invaluable additions to your brand’s identity.
While there is literally an endless number of pre-existing hashtags your brand could make use of in their social media, you don’t have to stop there. Piggybacking off of another hashtag can be useful for capitalizing on a new trend, but other than that, existing hashtags can become so overpopulated that your content will get lost in the crowd.
Instead, you should try creating your own branded marketing hashtags for your business. With these unique tags, you can easily collect all of your brand’s social media under one banner while simultaneously providing your audience with an easy way to spread the good news about the products and services you offer. Branded hashtags are versatile and unique tools that can be a great resource in your ongoing social media marketing efforts.
If you’re interested in seeing what branded hashtags can do for and your business’ marketing, take a look at the following examples and examinations, which will help illustrate how useful a single, customized hashtag can be in your social media marketing.
They Build Conversation
If you’re looking to build a conversation around your brand, there are few things more effective than creating a custom hashtag. If you need an example, just take a look at Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign.
When the #ShareACoke hashtag first began to draw attention around 2013, The Guardian reported how “Young adult consumption increased significantly, up by 7%. The campaign also earned a total of 18,300,000-plus media impressions, and traffic on the Coke Facebook site increased by 870%, with page likes growing by 39%.” This simple hashtag was such a hit that it took social media by storm, lead to some powerful partnerships—such as the one from above with Walt Disney world—and remains in regular circulation today.
The key to Coca-Cola’s success here is their inclusivity. While the marketing campaign was geared towards the younger, more social media savvy generation of 18-25-year-olds, Coca-Cola had the foresight to create a campaign that could be comfortably adopted by anyone. To go back to The Guardian, “Today's consumers want to feel unique, and giving users something affordable and personalized is a key way to succeed.”
When you’re creating a custom hashtag for your brand, you want to come up with something short, memorable, and inclusive. It should reference your brand—as the whole point of branded hashtags is to help promote your brand—but you don’t want to be so narrow that it can only be used in dialogues about your company.
This is another thing that Coca-Cola did right with #ShareACoke. The hashtag is clearly branded, but the visual aspect they based it around—bottles of Coke with a variety of names printed on them—included their audience and facilitated a uniquely personal approach. On top of that, the hashtag is also an effective CTA, as it outright encourages the customer to share a photo of their product.
They Let You Track Engagement
As you begin using your own branded hashtags, you’re going to want to test them in order to see what kinds of engagement they earn. Ideally, this would involve testing your social media content in order to find:
The best time of day to post
The best day of the week to post
How images or videos affect engagement and sharing
How long your captions should be
What hashtags perform best
How many hashtags attract the most engagement
Once you know what kind of social media content performs well, then you can hyperfocus on your branded hashtags. Just like any other hashtag, brand hashtags help you collect all of the discourse on your brand in one place. Simply by searching the hashtag, you can see every tweet, Instagram photo, and use it as a baseline for gauging what kinds of people are engaging with your brand, what their opinions are, and how you can interact with them in the most effective and meaningful ways.
If you’re not finding a lot of engagement with your branded hashtag, then you might want to consider adjusting the hashtag so that it’s more appealing to your customers. However, consistent engagement does take time. So if your branded hashtag is compact, brand-specific, and memorable, then be patient.
Make sure that you use it across all of your social media channels so that your audience becomes used to seeing it. The more familiar users are with your branded hashtag, the more front-of-mind it’ll be for them, making it that much easier for your target audience to use it when they talk about your brand.
They Can Help Publicize Events and Promotions
If you’re launching a campaign, promotion, or contest, then a branded hashtag can be the perfect catalyst to publicize the event, promote your brand, and make it easy for you to track the progress and involvement of that event. Social media is uniquely qualified to help you reach a large audience for hardly any cost, so you can host a contest, giveaway, or promotion with hardly any risk.
HubSpot says it like this: “People love to share great content, and the social channel only makes it easier to spread the word about your promotion. When done right, social media will help your contests go viral.” This is how hashtags work. They make it easy for you to attract large audiences of people, see how many people are engaged, and increase your odds of the contest catching on and going viral.
You don’t even have to be running a content to use a branded hashtag as a promotional tool. Take a look at the example from Airbnb below, where the brand’s Twitter uses a branded hashtag that includes their company name and promotes a fun poll that encourages casual audience engagement.
Like HubSpot says, “The hashtag has become the click-to-connect ticket for bonding with like-minded people. When you put something of interest out there, do a little hashtag research first, or hash out a unique phrase that reflects your brand. Hit that # key, and invite your followers to jump in.”
When you use a hashtag, you’re pointing a spotlight on a specific piece of content and encouraging others to join in on the conversation.
Handling the Hashtag
Knowing how and when to use hashtags can be tricky in and of itself. Used wrong and they’ll annoy an audience and drive them farther away from where you want them to be. Used right and they’ll attract new visitors to your social media content and maximize its public visibility.
Branding your hashtags can be the key to maximizing their effectiveness and avoiding potential pitfalls. Since these hashtags will be unique to you and your brand, you won’t need to compete with anyone else for attention. They will also help you easily organize all of your content under a consistent tag, so anyone who comes across your hashtag will have easy access to the rest of your content, ideally converting them into a qualified lead.