Branded hashtags are the new "likes" when it comes to your social media marketing. Well, sort of. They can be significantly more useful than any numbers of "likes." Getting social media users to use a hashtag that is associated with your brand acts as an extension of your marketing while helping spread the word of mouth awareness. When used well, they can be a great way to increase brand engagement and expand your audience. So what should your branded hashtag be and why the heck should you use one?
Successful hashtag campaigns can result in greater content engagement. Unsuccessful hashtag campaigns can be just as effective, just not the way you want them to #hashtagfail. There's a couple things you should know before you start #hashtagging your brand.
Step 1: Why you should have a branded hashtagA branded hashtag is a great way to start a conversation with your customers. It can be an extension of your brand's personality as well as a great way to distribute content and increase the conversation about your brand across the board. A branded hashtag is a way for your "fans" to share with their followers how they are already engaging with your brand and for you to inspire user generated content. It can mean major growth for your followers and help with the overall brand loyalty everyone is trying to achieve.
Forbes wrote a great article about Using Hashtags to Generate Greater Brand Engagement that is worth a read.
Step 2: How to choose your branded hashtagKeep it short, keep it simple, keep it relevant. Your branded hashtag should represent your brand in a positive light and get people talking about you. Great examples of branded hashtags are Nike's #justdoit Coke's #shareacoke, REI's #OptOutside or Charmin's #tweetsfromtheseat. Figure out what you want to do with your hashtag and come up with a few. Do some research and make sure no one else has used your hashtag. Also I would advise looking for any underlying meaning. I don't want any #hashtagfails.
Some of the most successful Twitter hashtags had these qualities:
- They are actionable. Get people to do something to be able to engage with your hashtag.
- They are funny. If your audience can share laughs about your brand, in a positive way, it will definitely increase engagement.
- Opinion based...well you know what they say about opinions.
- They mean something. One of the trending hashtags as I write this blog is #whyIteach. Who doesn't want to hear stories about some of the hardest working professionals in America and I'm sure from a teacher to teacher perspective its refreshing to hear. The #whyIteach hashtag is promoted by Teacher2Teacher for teacher appreciation week.
In this article by Search Engine Watch you can see that the White House tested over 26 different hashtags before deciding on seven to focus on during the State of the Union Address. Monitoring their hashtags provided the insight they needed to effectively engage their audience and see what messages from the #SOTU stuck.
Want to see some funny #hashtagfails before learning how to promote your hashtag? Read this article by Login Radius.
Step 3: Promote your hashtag
So you came up with a great hashtag, but how do you use it? Well first off tell your followers about it, let them know how to use it. You can do this on your social media accounts, through your email marketing, putting it in a physical location, writing it on the sidewalk, getting a tattoo of that hashtag, just use whatever promotional means you have to let your followers know!
Other ways you can promote your hashtag is by running a contest with that hashtag. Incentivize your audience is a great way to inspire user generated content whether it be the funniest tweet or a photo contest. You can also do a number of paid promotions with your hashtag on any social media platform. In addition you can promote your hashtag with a cross channel campaign. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumbler all support hashtags.
Step 4: Monitor hashtag engagement
Now that you have spent all that time creating your branded hashtag don't let that hardwork go to the birds (that's a twitter joke). Monitor engagement and see if it's really working. You can have a basic view of your hashtag engagement on your individual social media accounts or you can use a third party service to do it.
HubSpot is a great way to monitor your social media engagement. It allows you to pinpoint specific qualities or variations of hashtags (does it have a link in it etc...) into one thread. You can also have notifications sent to you when your hashtag is being mentioned so that you can 1. See where you're getting the most engagement and 2. Participate in real time conversation with your followers.
Want some additional options for free social media monitoring? Check out this article from Brandwatch on the Top 15 Free Social Media Monitoring Tools.
The key to having a successful branded hashtag is really just keep it simple, keep it fun, and help inspire a conversation with your audience. It might take a little trial and error before you find something that gets your audience talking, but there's no reason you can't get #hashtagging today. Do you have helpful #hashtag tips? Tweet me at @LenaHaines with the hashtag #ItsPrimeTime I would love to hear your comments.