A couple weeks ago I received a text message from a friend who had lost his wallet and was wondering if he had left it in my car. He ended his message with the hashtag #TypicalBrandon (name has been changed).
The next morning as I was getting ready, I began thinking about hashtags – I always do my most productive thinking while getting ready – and subsequently how the use of hashtags has evolved. The initial use of hashtags in social media was to thread conversations together on similar topics. For instance, TV shows create hashtags their followers can use while tweeting. The specific hashtag can then be used to search or track all tweets related to the show. Hashtags in social media are clickable, meaning one click of a hashtag will open all conversations that use the hashtag.
From a business perspective, I see great value in the use of hashtags. For example, using a specific hashtag for a corporate event allows the organization to track the social media chatter around the event. Or when launching a new product, organizations can follow the social conversations surrounding the product launch. However, there is a discrepancy in the way businesses use hashtags and the way the average consumer uses hashtags.
I would argue the vast majority of consumers – or the average hashtag users – aren’t intentionally trying to join a conversation at all. From my personal observation, the most common uses of hashtags are to express emotion or an opinion. For instance, Brandon’s use of the hashtag #TypicalBrandon succinctly illustrates he realizes he loses his wallet a lot. Hashtags such as #luckiestgirlever or #cantwait often appear in posts of my friends when they announce their engagements on social media. These friends aren’t using hashtags to join a conversation about marriage but to express their excitement.
So what does this mean for businesses? The most socially successful businesses will be those who bridge the gap between the way consumers and businesses use hashtags. Is there a way for your organization to capitalize upon the expressing of an emotion to launch a new service or host an event?
An example of a great hashtag and marketing campaign is the #loveyourbutt campaign. March was Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Recently on the metro, I became intrigued by an ad that included the hashtag #loveyourbutt. As I read the ad, I realized the ad was encouraging individuals to be screened for colorectal cancer. Instead of using a hashtag such as #CCawareness2014, the organizers of this campaign selected a hashtag that included emotion (and was intriguing).
What are some effective hashtags you’ve seen organizations use?