Twitter’s Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.
A successful hashtag campaign can increase brand awareness, drive traffic, start conversations, and encourage calls to action. Generic hashtags have more creative potential and give followers additional freedom when using them. Be true to your brand. Keep hashtags short, informative, and to the point. Search for your hashtag to make sure it’s not already being used. Followers hate messages that appear to be spam. Don’t overload tweets with hashtags. Twitter best practices recommends using no more than 2 per tweet. Cole Haan’s Hashtag Marketing is an example of a tremendously successful campaign.
For a campaign to be successful, it is important to incorporate hashtags into multiple marketing channels in addition to social channels. There are tools and plugins for website development that will stream the most recent tweets that contain a targeted hashtag. Add the hashtag to existing marketing channels, such as webinar reminders and printed promotional material. Event hashtags and live tweeting are some other great ways to take advantage of hashtag marketing. Create a simple and unique hashtag for an upcoming event and encourage attendees to tweet about their experiences. These hashtags can create industry buzz and may lead to relationships with new customers/audiences. Be sure to monitor and participate in the conversation!
It is important to assess the risks associated with implementing a hashtag campaign. Make sure you are proactive and not reactive. Branded hashtags come with high risk, but also great potential reward. Have a crisis plan in place to mitigate any problems that may arise from a hijacked hashtag. McDonald’s has one of the most well know twitter marketing disaster stories. In January, McDonalds launched a twitter campaign with the #McDStories hashtag hoping that customers would recount pleasant experiences, like buying a grandchild their first Happy Meal. The plan completely backfired and McDonald’s was facing a PR nightmare with people tweeting countless stories of negative experiences. Take a look at some tweets that followed: