By now, every marketer should know what a hash tag is…. and should be incorporating them into their marketing strategies and campaigns. If you don’t know what they are, and are not using them, you, my dear marketing colleague, are way behind the times.
Hashtags have become game changers in marketing today. They also have become iconic, globally relevant, and at times, extremely overused. They were originally developed by Twitter, as a way of filtering conversation. If you saw a hashtag in a tweet, for example “I went #snowboarding today at #MtHood, it was awesome”, each of the words with the “#” symbol before it will filter and and all other communication and conversations around those words. So the words “snowboarding” and “MtHood” would become hyperlinked to a much broader conversation around those two words.
Thankfully, for us marketers, hashtags have become relevant beyond the Twitter world and are used in other social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest. And here is a staggering stat that will convince any marketer of why they should be incorporating # into marketing messages: More than 70% of consumers use them today on mobile devices. And of these consumers, more than half look to explore new content when hash tags are present.
Because of this, it is absolutely critical for brands with social media activity to get on board the # train, but in a strategic and appropriate way. Before embarking on a new hashtag focused campaign, be sure to keep a few things in mind:
1. Know what you’re goals are, and the message you’re trying to communicate. Everything should be clear, concise and easy to understand. The hashtag should clearly tie back to the main marketing message. For example with The North Face’s “Never Stop Exploring” Campaign, the brand uses the same hashtag #Neverstopexploring.
2. Do some research around the words you are thinking of using for your hashtag. Are they relevant? Are they trending? Is a hashtag you are interested in using already being used, and being used for something completely unrelated to the message you’re trying to communicate?
3. Hashtags will never die. This is something to consider as well when incorporating hashtags into your messages. Using something generic that can be used across multiple campaigns might be a good idea. With The North Face example, the “Never Stop Exploring” campaign is a part of the brand’s culture and heritage. It is the brand’s tagline. Just like Nike’s “Just Do It”. These are words that most likely will never be removed from the brand, so keep that in consideration. As long as social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are around, hashtags will be too.