If your brand does any digital marketing, it may seem like using hashtags is essential to the equation. But not all hashtags are equal, and many are crafted to tick a box fall flat the moment they’re introduced. Whether you’re looking to garner impressions, increase your brand’s share of voice, or boost awareness, these examples will help you master the art of the hashtag.
Coca-Cola is itself, iconic, but its Share A Coke campaign cemented its relevance to a new generation of soft drinkers. Coke didn’t stop at putting names on cans to excite customers who could find their own to drink from; they encouraged the social nature of the campaign with the #ShareACoke hashtag. Soon after, conversations on Twitter and Instagram were flooded with photos of Coke bottles and cans. Friends shared with friends, and fans shared with followers. Though the campaign launched in 2014, the hashtag is still in use throughout social media.
Give campaign-themed hashtags a reason for being. Applying a hashtag to a campaign may be common practice, but that doesn’t mean it works simply because it exists. Your campaign’s hashtag can seem like a clever read in the eyes of a copywriter, but no amount of creative genius here can change a user’s behavior at the end of the day.
#ShareACoke works because it invites participation that lets the audience tell a story about themselves. The behavior of sharing personal stories on social media is already there; Coke simply enabled the interaction on behalf of its consumers. Make the value of the engagement natural and clear, and a hashtag can amplify your campaign into an earned media opportunity, whether you’re a global brand or not.
Bethesda Softworks is a powerhouse. The publisher is responsible for some of the biggest blockbusters to ever hit the video gaming world, with titles like Fallout grossing millions of dollars apiece. Their releases are highly anticipated, and Bethesda’s tech-heavy audience isn’t shy about using social media to speculate and commentate.
Though Bethesda supports many of its bigger releases with a suite of dedicated social channels, the studio has embraced the fact that fans use the titles to talk about games. By discussing, say, Skyrim using #skyrim instead of a specific game reference like #TheDragonborn (a nod to the game’s main character), the brand gets to own conversations that Skyrim enthusiasts are having.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Not every idea or product needs a clever hashtag to be positioned for success. Sometimes, the easiest way to own the conversation is to embrace and encourage the way the conversation is already taking shape. By using hashtags that match the way gamers discuss former, current, and future titles, the brand directly inserts itself into the conversation to keep it flowing.
What’s more, without being tied to a specific creative campaign or timeframe, hashtags like #Skyrim will always be relevant for game-related chatter, and stand the test of time. Anyone searching for the latest content has a direct line of sight to what the studio is saying because they’ve embraced the hashtag instead of trying to force something else upon their fans.
A few years ago, Newcastle Brown Ale decided to make a statement about the state of frenzy Super Bowl advertisers. A masterfully executed creative campaign hyped an ad that never came to fruition with star-studded content plays. Everything was tied together with #IfWeMadeIt, where followers could get a taste of the latest brand antics and stunts. By placing social media at the center of the strategy, Newcastle captured attention for a fraction of what competitors spent on broadcast spots.
Let the calendar do the heavy lifting. The Super Bowl happens every year, and as a result, every year millions of eager football fans place an increased focus on the second screen to get in on the action. Newcastle could have picked any moment to advertise, but it aligned with a key cultural moment to efficiently scale awareness. What’s more, they negated the risks of using a campaign-specific hashtag by deploying it at a time where social media users were inclined to adopt it.
It may seem like the big brands are hiring pros to create and spread hashtags, but no matter your size, you can learn from these examples. The first step is as easy as creating a branded hashtag and using it with most of your Tweets and IG posts. The next step is to associate your message with an organic hashtag that is a natural fit. The limited time it will take to implement a preliminary brand hashtag strategy could have wide-reaching effects for your brand. Do it for the conversations, if for nothing else