A brief guide to creating powerful hashtags

hashtags jon tyson unsplash

If you’ve ever wondered what fuels social media these days, the answer is the hashtag. No longer the currency of gum-chewing, pre-teen girls, a powerful hashtag can circle the world faster than Superman can change into tights.

And as it flies, a hashtag has the power to influence, convert, motivate and engage. It’s a tiny nugget of super-charged marketing kryptonite that will get people talking about your brand for the right reason, encourage engagement and conversion.

Or not. Some — actually most — hashtags never leave the ground, falling flat for any number of reasons. Why? Because the majority of great hashtags aren’t born, they’re made with a lot of thought and care and, sometimes, just a little bit of luck.

Having said that, some of the best hashtags have been created on the spur of the moment, but most are carefully crafted.

So what makes a hashtag great? And how do you go about creating one for maximum impact and brand engagement?

Start by making a list of iconic keywords and hashtags and you’ll see that the most effective ones have the following qualities in common:

They’re short and focussed

You want to get people talking, so a good hashtag should roll off the tongue easily and encapsulate the essence of what you’re saying. Less is definitely more here – one or two words or a short phrase is ideal. Calvin Kleins’ hugely effective #MyCalvins campaign is a great example of a brand hitting the sweet spot.

They build community and engage

Coca Cola’s #shareacoke comes to mind. This hashtag’s call to action created a vibrant sense of community, got millions clinking bottles and posting pics online and earned billions for the brand. Domino’s Pizza’s #letsdolunch worked for exactly the same reason.

They empower and unify

To encourage British women to get up, out and exercising, Sport England launched #thisgirlcan. The campaign was a hit because it challenged women and girls in a positive and healthy way. L’Oréal’s #worthsaying campaign, which got women talking about what matters most to them, is another great example of a hashtag that works because it empowers and reveals universal commonalities.

They’re smart and funny

It’s hard to get people excited about loo paper, but Charmin did it brilliantly with their #tweetfromtheseat, which resulted in a wave of hilarious posts on social media, which joked about doing the previously unspeakable “number 2” and led to a well-deserved boost in brand awareness and engagement.

They’re brand-appropriate

For a hashtag to work FOR your brand, rather than against it, make sure that it’s appropriate to both your brand identity and your market. A successful hashtag campaign will highlight your brand’s personality in a positive way. All of the examples mentioned above succeed in doing this, which is another reason for their success

So next time you get together around a table to brainstorm hashtags with your team, keep these points in mind because a great hashtag is one of the most powerful tools in digital marketing today.

Feature image: Jon Tyson via Unsplash



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