Hashtags have quickly become the way to navigate online social spheres. Tracking conversations and breaking news on Twitter, finding relevant photos on Instagram, and participating in a community on Tumblr are all powered through hashtags. But they’re more than a navigation tool now. Hashtags have evolved into one of the most important engagement tools for brands and publishers.
The question is, how do you create a hashtag for one-time campaigns and for rolling evergreen content? We’ve got some tips for you below.
Think about the purpose of your hashtag campaign. What kind of content are you looking for? Let’s say you’re running a nail art campaign. Some buzzwords you might come up with: nailart, mani, pedi, polish, manicure, etc. Come up with as many as you can.
2. Brand & Differentiate
Now that you have your buzzwords, think of ways to use them in different ways. Obviously, tags like #nailart or #mani are already extremely popular, and wont do you much good. Two great companies that have done this well are Sephora and Celebuzz. Sephora’s #nailspotting and Celebuzz’s #ManiMondays are clear enough that anyone would know they were for nailart photos, but also different enough that lets the two companies really own the conversation around the tag.
Another approach is to brand your hashtag. For example, Vanity Fair’s Chute-powered Best Dressed Challenge hashtag is #vfbestdressed. In today’s digital world, branding your hashtag is akin to putting your logo on a product.
Once you have a couple potential hashtags, do a quick Instagram search of each. You don’t want to discover down the line that your hashtag was already in use. Remember, you want to really own your promoted hashtags, so any time someone searches it it leads back to you.
4. Launch & Engage
So you have your hashtag, and you’re ready to launch it into the wild? Not just yet. If you want people to interact with you, you need to interact with them. Share your favorite submissions on your own social media accounts, and be sure to like, comment, and @reply in an authentic manner. People, your audience included, like to know they’re being listened to. Never ignore the people who choose to engage with you.
Vanity Fair’s approach towards the entrants to the Best Dressed Challenge is a prime example. Editors and guest judges create monthly lists of their favorite looks along with critiques by the fashion experts. They’ve even made a whole new Twitter account devoted to interacting with users.
Your hashtag, whether used for a one-off campaign or indefinitely, can help you grow the conversation between your company and your audience – creating a sense of loyalty and friendship that is vital in an age where a brand’s online personality has a lot to do with its offline success.