In 2014, everyone knows that your brand needs to be social and interact with your audiences wherever they live. But there’s just posting to social pages and building followers/fans and then there is truly harnessing the power of your community online. A key way to do that right now is the beloved (and sometimes reviled) hashtag.
What is a hashtag? Simply, it’s a way for social conversations to form by everyone using the same tag, with a “#”. I don’t say just a word because it’s often a few words slammed together without spacing, making it more suitable for Twitter’s 140 character world (although hashtags have also made it into Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social mediums now). And it’s a very effective way to embed your content marketing into ongoing conversations and even start them up yourself.
In entertainment, the hashtag is everywhere. The new King of Late Night TV, Jimmy Fallon, uses Hashtags every week (even his nonsensical dancing panda is named “Hashtag”) as a feature on his show. He essentially crowdsources the jokes for the evening to his audience by coming up with a concept and starting a conversation about it through the hashtag. This speaks to the power of the hashtag to create a conversation between people thinking about the same thing. Every week, Fallon’s hashtag becomes a trending topic.
During the month of World Cup, FIFA pushed #BecauseFutbol on commercials everywhere that showed why fans were altering their lives to watch all the games. They used that hashtag even here in the US where we call the sport played at their games “soccer”. That was just good, consistent branding so they could inspire a global conversation and trending.
The folks at the TLC Network have even won awards for their effective use of hashtags on their show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” While many find the show cringe-worthy, TLC routinely draws its fans together into conversations that build continued interest through engagement, giving watchers a chance to express thoughts positive and negative that will be heard by a wider audience. Of course, TLC drops in Calls To Action (watch other TLC shows, buy Honey Boo Boo products) and learns about what works best on the show through the reactions they read.
How can marketers use hashtags to power their content?
# Use hashtags for research to find out what is trending in social spheres so you can participate and learn more about your audience.
# Develop your own hashtag and prominently drop it into your content for exposure; use it consistently to build interest and inspire interaction.
# Hashtags have an innate humor to them so have some fun with your brand, if possible. Like Fallon’s example and even FIFA’s #BecauseFutbol, hashtags are inclusive and encourage your audience to participate and contribute.
With your hashtags in place for social posts, you get a great way to drive engagement while building exposure for your social presence since you are not getting exposed to non-followers that are looking at the hashtag, and learn more about your audience. So, don’t forget to save some space in your next social update for an appropriate #hashtag.