Last week, we broke down hashtag basics for the uninitiated. This week, we're sharing some examples of how to use hashtags (and how not to) for your next big marketing push or advocacy campaign.
Are you familiar with the world of #InstagramYogis? Yoga teachers and students from all over the world have made a habit of documenting their asanas and twisty poses with Instagram videos and photos.
One of our favorites (who is also a childhood friend of Katie's), Carson Clay Calhoun, has turned his Instagram into a platform for "handstand-up comedy," beatboxing, and yoga dares. Using the hashtag #cccmademedoit, he challenges yogis to attempt some of the impossible-looking poses he can do, and in the process gains new students and fans across the country. (This one is one of our faves!)
Beware of snark
There are moments on Twitter that really feel like a party: when a game or a joke is being passed around, and everyone is joining in and using the same silly hashtag. However, if your brand is the butt of the joke, that can be not so fun.
A famous example of this is from a few years ago, when McDonald's started the hashtag #McDstories to promote farmers who supply the restaurants. Within two hours, Twitter users were using it to tell gruesome stories and talk trash about the company and the promotion campaign had to be suspended. This isn't necessarily a hashtag issue, and it can happen to anyone, but when thinking up a hashtag run it by a few people outside of your normal sphere of influence and get some feedback on if it can be misinterpreted. You might also learn something valuable about your brand!
Yes, there really are awards for these things! The #LikeaGirl campaign is one of our favorite winners: Always (the tampon brand) built a campaign around the idea of changing what it means to do something "like a girl," and released a powerful video that was viewed over 70 million times.
Not only was this a way to build positive brand association, but the hashtag was simple, memorable, and started a much bigger conversation around gender expectations and sexism. Think about your larger message, instead of always leading with your brand and what you're selling.
Click on it first
When you open Twitter.com and look on the left side of your feed, you'll see Trends. These are hashtags and topics that Twitter has noticed are being discussed by lots of users, and you can click on them to check out the conversation.
Brands and organizations also join in on these trending conversations; unfortunately, they don't always look at how the hashtag is being used before deciding to post with it. For example, in 2011 Entenmanns (the dessert company) used a trending topic to post the following:
The reason #NotGuilty was trending? The verdict in the Casey Anthony trial had just come out. Entenmann's had to apologize and admitted that they should have checked the hashtag first. It sounds silly, but believe us when we say this happens all the time!
Now that you know a little more than the basics, go forth and hashtag like a marketing champion.