Hashtag Campaigns: A guide to an effective marketing strategy

Hashtag Campaigns: A guide to an effective marketing strategy

If you are representing a brand’s digital image, you are probably already familiar with hashtag campaigns. However, there

If you are representing a brand’s digital image, you are probably already familiar with hashtag campaigns. However, there is a chance you don’t know how you should plan and execute these strategies correctly. What is this type of social media campaign really about? Is it an Instagram and Twitter trend or is it a vital part of your brand’s marketing journey? Is it still relevant? What are the smartest steps to a successful hashtag campaign and how can you measure its success? These are some of the questions that may come to mind of someone who works with social media today. 

As a currently growing and fairly new field, social media marketing is still a confusing area for most people. In this climate, a wrong decision or a stagnation of your digital existence can cost you money, time, and reputation. This article aims at clearing up common misconceptions concerning hashtag campaigns and provide helpful insights to future marketing strategists. Perhaps, you’re seeking information about previous campaigns, which either thrived or failed. You could also be searching for hashtag examples for different platforms. In any case, keep reading. This guide will hopefully act as your advisor, as you navigate through the troubles of the hashtag storm.

So, let’s get started with the basics!

What is a hashtag?

Everyone knows that a hashtag is a word or a phrase that follows the pound symbol (#) on social media. Their main purpose is to divide social media posts into categories. The categories act as forums for users to create, search and follow a specific topic. What you probably don’t know is that hashtags were not invented in the social media realm. Instead, a Twitter user, back in 2007, suggested that they used the “#” sign to form social media groups. Until then, the hashtag, as we know it today, was used in computer programming.

Hashtags can be used for personal, social, or professional branding. From online marketing to social justice (the feminist or the #BLM movement), hashtag campaigns are in everyone’s feed right now.

blm-twitter-hashtag-campaign

What is a hashtag campaign?

What can only be described as self-explanatory, a hashtag campaign is a digital marketing technique. It takes place in social media channels and involves, as you guessed it, the carefully planned use of hashtags. The point of the campaign is to attract the eyes of online users, but also predict their reaction to it. It is important that the content quality, message, and timing of the campaign are equally treated in the strategic process. Usually, the hashtag is a unique creation of the brand’s team, intending to do its company’s philosophy and needs justice.

How do hashtag campaigns work?

If you are wondering how to start a hashtag that will launch a campaign, the procedure is simple. The company comes up with creative hashtags that serve the purpose of the campaign. The top selection will be included in the description/caption of a social media post. For example, the brand’s intention could be to increase sales of its product. To serve that purpose, they would have to start a hashtag trend that challenges multiple users to buy, test, and review the product. In many cases, sharing a product-related photograph on social media is the optimal call-to-action of hashtag marketing.

When successful, a hashtag post can generate a profitable interaction between the brand and a number of possible future customers.

coca-cola-twitter-camerondalls

Benefits of hashtag campaigns

Users take part in social media campaigns, hoping they win something. For instance, Instagram contest participants have their eyes on free products and services. Moreover, clout chasers try making their social media accounts recognizable, by joining in popular trends and big brands’ campaigns.

When it comes to hashtag marketing, the profitable relationship between users and brands is a two-way street. In fact, there are a number of benefits that companies gain by using social media hashtags. Marketing teams often use hashtags to:

#1 Raise brand awareness

Small or new businesses navigate through social media, trying to build a strong community around them. Help your target audience find you, by cleverly using branded hashtags to your advantage. These hashtags include your brand/product’s name or even your slogan. Smart campaign strategists keep their hashtags short, catchy and recognizable. Your company gains visibility, as more users publish content that includes your original branding hashtags.

#2 Increase your brand’s reach and engagement

The digital markets of Twitter and Instagram are highly saturated and the algorithm doesn’t help either. One efficient way to sail through and increase the organic reach of your posts is the usage of hashtags. Furthermore, an effective hashtag campaign can help the number of your followers rise. It can even drive traffic to your website if you wish. Above all, it augments user interactions with your posts, by giving them the motive to take part in the conversation.

#3 Promote products and events

Promotion can be tricky. Especially, if we consider the amount of hashtag advertising campaigns that are conducted every day. Sometimes, a catchy hashtag cannot guarantee sales. Boost your products and services’ purchasing performance with contests and giveaways. For example, Instagram giveaways provide an easy method of showcasing your brand’s work. Contests, on the other hand, raise the audience’s engagement, by popularizing the act of sharing their related personal content. In addition, spread the word and make your upcoming events discoverable by using a distinct hashtag. 

#4 Show support for serious issues 

The year is 2021. We currently live in a different climate. One that is about social justice and holding those who threaten it accountable. Connect with your audience. Find out what they care about. Take a stand for non-marketing issues you care about, but make sure your actions align with your social media posts. Staying true to your beliefs helps build the right community for your company. Join in trending hashtags and shape an all-around brand identity, online and offline. Similarly, use your platform to support charitable causes you want your followers to support. Remain relevant and benefit from press coverage, while helping those in need.

#5 Collect aggregated information

In addition to user-generated content that you can use later on your company’s platforms, you can also collect useful information. Share a hashtag. Open a dialogue. Learn what your audience thinks about a particular topic. Use that information for better results, when needed. Hashtags are basically digital conversation categories. They provide numeral information that comes in handy in performance reviews. Therefore, it is easy for you to find out your brand’s success by monitoring your hashtag campaigns.

Types of hashtag campaigns

#1 Regular branded campaign 

Plenty of brands existed before the internet and social media. As a result, most of them have been using the same catchphrases for decades. Their success led to their turning those slogans into hashtags and letting them take over the digital world as well. Nike hashtags, like #JustDoIt, capitalize on decades of previous marketing work by the company. Another prominent case of turning the catchphrase into an effective hashtag is KitKat’s #ABreakForHaveABreak campaign.twitter-nike-hashtag

#2 UGC showcase campaign

User-generated content, as discussed earlier, boosts your brand’s portfolio with a variety of images and words to choose from. #ShareACoke by Coca-Cola and #MyCalvins by Calvin Klein are campaigns that rely on human participation and engagement. These types of campaigns are a secure method of becoming more attached to your target audience. Moreover, featuring UGC in your product’s platforms reveals your brand as more accessible, relatable, and inclusive. Lay’s used the hashtag #DoUsAFlavor to motivate users to vote for their favorite flavor for a chance of winning a cash prize.lays-showcase-campaign

#3 Trend hijacking campaign

Social media revolves around trending topics. That’s a fact. Joining in some of these trends helps get your brand noticed, but it can also get ugly. Using serious subjects, like tragedies, as means to your clout chasing journey could establish your brand as ignorant. On the other hand, jumping in trends in every opportunity could damage your niche audience’s perception of your brand identity.

#4 Announcement campaign

Whether it is an upcoming event or public service, hashtag campaigns provide the best announcement techniques. Many words tend to discourage users and no words at all can be confusing. Keep your hashtag short, simple, clear, and memorable. Other uses of this type of hashtag campaign include new launches. For instance, Warner Bros successfully relaunched Mortal Kombat 11, under the hashtag of #MKKOLLECTIVE.

#5 Contest / Giveaway campaign

As told before, contests and giveaways are an easy way to raise engagement and following for your brand. A giveaway campaign, for example, makes users follow the companies that provide the product gifts until the giveaway ends. Sometimes, this could take a month. As a result, brands have a considerably large period of time to win over possible future unfollowers. Contests and discounts might sound monotonous, but you can always approach them creatively. audi-hashtag-campaign-marketing-strategy

#WantAnR8 By Audi and #LetsDoLunch By Domino’s Pizza are perfect examples for this case. Audi put this hashtag campaign in effect and every once in a while chose a random user, who had tweeted the hashtag, to ride in a new R8 for a day. Domino’s Pizza, on the other hand, created a clever discount hashtag. Every time someone would tweet the hashtag, for a specific time span, the price would drop. Eventually, the price dropped to half of the original cost.domino-tweet-hashtag-campaigns

#6 Influencer-led campaign

Sometimes, the key is to have your hashtag campaign featured on a few influential people’s platforms. Influencers can be used to promote giveaways and contests, but it doesn’t stop there. A number of successful social justice or health awareness campaigns owed their engagement to artists, politicians, and public figures that cared enough to join them. The ALS Association piggybacked the #IceBucketChallenge hashtag and turned it into a fruitful campaign, raising money and awareness. Apart from that, it was a fun and memorable digital movement. Always used the hashtag #LikeAGirl, inspired by Michelle Obama, to empower women and destigmatize female weakness. Marketing-wise that was a powerful move, since it enabled women everywhere to relate, connect, and build a strong community around the Always products.

Are hashtags still relevant in 2021?

Social media channels are still in their prime, but today’s communication climate hides some barriers as well. On one hand, gaining mass visibility and support is easy, compared to the previous decades. On the other hand, however, it is hard to keep your business at the same level of success and approval. Trends get outdated quickly and cancel culture doesn’t help either. A fragment of bad behavior, ignorance, or politically incorrect language can destroy your brand’s reputation. Carefully planned, versatile, and personal social media campaigns help create a more approachable character for your business.

Hashtag examples of a person-centric approach of modern-day campaigns are #MeToo and #SpotifyWrapped. Both were very effective, in their own ways. #MeToo gained enormous popularity when several artists came forward, talking about sexual harassment, in order to hold powerful people accountable. The hashtag’s mass influence moved on from artists to people and from people to a global feminist movement. Spotify, with what can only be called the smartest strategy, generated a hashtag campaign that drove traffic to their application. Prompting everyone to share their annual top artists and songs on social media platforms, creating a public need for people to download and subscribe to the application so that they could get their results and be a part of the game.

If you want to succeed in your own hashtag campaign, we provide you with tips and hashtag ideas for 2022. Don’t forget that the pandemic only made the prospect of digital campaigns even more needed today.

How to plan an effective hashtag campaign?

If you worry about the number of things you have to do when running a campaign, pause and relax. Plan your strategy to the very last mistake possibility. Here are 10 simple steps that will help you stay ahead of your campaign’s basic needs.

  1. Specify your intentions for the campaign
  2. Research the market you work in for trending topics and needs
  3. Look at your competition and compare their campaigns to yours
  4. Set up a team of professionals and reflect on your previous techniques
  5. Define your target group and get advice from their online behavior
  6. Think of a catchy hashtag that represents your brand
  7. Contact influencers and pitch them your idea for a possible collaboration
  8. Set up a budget and plan giveaways or creative contests
  9. Schedule a cross-media promotion for better results
  10. Monitor your hashtag campaign’s progress.

How to find the perfect hashtags?

Get inspired by popular hashtags and brainstorm. Try to find the perfect balance between mainstream and unique. Niche audiences are stronger supporters, but you need mainstream audiences to increase your social media reach as well. Think clever, bold, energetic. Maybe your brand name rhymes or fits well with words that serve your campaign’s purpose. Experiment and test your target group’s reactions to your hashtags.

If you need more accurate insights on what hashtags fit your brand, use a social monitoring tool. Mentionlytics, for example, scans through your web and social media posts, as well as posts your brand was mentioned. In the “Keyword cloud” report, you have the option to select the “Hashtags Only” button. It will immediately show you which hashtags are being used next to your brand mentions. Get information and inspiration from the results. Maybe you want to capitalize on a general idea or refute another one.mentionlytics-ryanair-case-study

How to start a hashtag campaign on Twitter?

Twitter is all about the quality and the message of your text. Twitter has a very specific word and character limit. Therefore, choose your words carefully and check that the hashtag is original. It would not be beneficial for your campaign if your hashtag had been used before for other marketing strategies. 

Also, double-check if your selected hashtag words have ambiguous meanings. Join in trending topics and try to incorporate your products organically into them. Above all, do not overuse hashtags. For Twitter, one hashtag is enough.

Read more details on Twitter hashtags

How to start a hashtag campaign on Instagram?

Instagram tends to focus more on the image, compared to Twitter. Your campaign should include a uniquely curated hashtag, accompanied by eye-catching content. It might be a professional photograph of your product, a vibrant influential video, or an aesthetically pleasing text image. 

Boost your platform with carefully constructed content and when that isn’t an option, join in trending hashtags. Anniversary hashtags, like #FBF and #TBT, are an easy way of tricking the algorithm into remembering your account. Include both popular and niche hashtags in your posts.

Read more details on Instagram hashtags

How to track a hashtag campaign?

The most important step for your general marketing strategy as a company is measuring the progress of your campaign. Compare your achievements with your competitors’. Analyze the response of the majority to your social media presence during the campaign. Gain helpful insights about your brand and how it is perceived to make your next campaign more effective. 

From your posts’ reach to your followers’ engagement, the most valuable review of your campaign is to use a web and social media monitor tool.

If you don’t know how to find one, you can see our list of hashtag tracking tools.

If you want to get personalized data about your brand, head to Mentionlytics and enter your brand’s name to get started for free. Our tool will automatically gather web and social media data for you every day, analyze it, and give you useful insights. Furthermore, you can access the same type of data results for your competitors and compare your progress.

Apart from analytical data and statistical reports, Mentionlytics offers a unique feature called ‘Social Intelligence Advisor’. This AI-powered feature runs an algorithm to uncover brand mentions and other useful reports. Not only this, but SIA also gives deep insights into the reports to allow brands to use them.

To Sum Up

Hashtags are the pinnacle of social media presence and communication in the last decade. As a result, it was expected of them to be used in marketing strategies. Hashtag campaigns are one of the most important digital marketing techniques today and when successful, they can benefit the brand in many ways. In contrast to popular belief, they remain relevant and effective, even in 2021. We gave you all the information you need to start planning your first (or next) hashtag campaign for 2022. It’s time to leave the confusing details behind and get creative!

About Nicolas Braoulias

Passionate about social media and communication, Nicolas is a junior content writer at Mentionlytics. His interests include writing & editing, pop culture, and graphic design.