The Power of Hashtags and How to Create a Winning One

These days, hashtags can be found everywhere – not just on Twitter accounts from which they have originated but on Facebook Newsfeeds, Instagram profiles, advertisements, chats, songs and even wedding invites. They became a way for brands to create conversations, interact with their fans and promote their products. It all started with one guy, Chris Messina, a former Google employee who worked as a designer on Google+ and tweeted his first hashtag back in 2007. 

Although it took some time before the thing went mainstream, today we recognize a hashtag as a word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#) used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it. This means that every time you or your fans add a hashtag to the post it’s immediately indexed by the social network and searchable by other users. If you click on the hashtag you will be taken to a page that contains all real-time posts with the same 'hashtagged' word. In that way you are increasing exposure of your content and helping people easily find you and your brand. Once such keyword picks up enough momentum we say it’s “trending”. Two main ways in which companies can take advantage of hashtags is to either create their own hashtag or take advantage of existing ones.

Creating Your Own Hashtag 

If you want to create awareness and more importantly guide the conversation and somewhat control the type of content associated with the hashtag you should consider having your own hashtag. However, you need to be careful to choose hashtag that is completely free of any ambiguity so that you can administrate the conversation in a tone that is favorable for your brand. Some of the best examples include #PutACanOnIt by Red Bull, inspired by a photo the company found on Twitter where the photographer is holding a Red Bull can above a Mini Cooper or #WantAnR8 that started when the car company saw that somebody has sent out a tweet with hashtag #WantAnR8 to explain why they wanted an Audi R8. Audi quickly created a contest and encouraged users to create and post a tweet with that hashtag for a chance to really win Audi R8. 

Take Existing Hashtag

In case you would rather take advantage of an existing tag search for an extensive list or hashtags that are popular or currently trending or try Hashtag Generator that allows you to type in a sentence or phrase and let generator not only pull up three different possible hashtags but actually show you who is already using it and for what kind of content. On Facebook you can easily look for hashtags by URL then just include your keyword on the end. If you decide to “use” an existing tag check out infographic below to make sure that this is a right idea for your campaign and that you can actually add value to an existing conversation.

After you create your own hashtag make sure you follow some basic etiquette when it comes to using them. 

1. #DoNotStringTooManyWordsTogether with one hashtag. It’s ok to use more than one word but keep them short and capitalize the first letter of each new word to make it easier to read. For example Citibank used #MondayMotivation with minimal and on point communication that has just two words.

2. #Do #not #tag #every #word as that is considered spamming and people will quickly move to a less cluttered post. Remember that each hashtag creates a link for each word. So unless there is good reason to further describe each tag don’t place so many hashtags as they will make your message unreadable.

3. Use hashtags relevant to your business and only on tweets relevant to the topic. If you’re promoting cheap airfare, you will want to use hashtags like #CheapTravel and #FlightDeals so users will find you when they search for those keywords. Creating a contest or promotion is another great way to get social media talking about your brand hashtags and users will be more likely to use them if they know they might win a prize by doing so. 

Long gone are the days when hashtags were just a way to categorize posts or add narrative to your updates. Companies have found a way to use them as a way to drive conversation, gain public support or attract attention to their brands. Let us know if you’re using hashtags in your social media posts? Do you have some do’s and don’ts of good 'hashtagging' that you can share with us? We are looking forward to hearing from you!