8 Tips for Hashtags

Digiday’s Saya Weissman has a piece today talking about brands and hashtags. It’s a good piece and a strong reminder that brands employing a GMOOT (Give Me One Of Those) strategy will often be disappointed in the results. So, with that in mind, here are 8 things to remember when thinking about using hashtags as part of your communications strategy:

1. Keep the consumer in mind

Ask yourself the following:

  • Would I use that hashtag?
  • In what context?
  • How does it connect to my life?
  • How often would I use it?
  • Is this hashtag just our strapline, or does it mean something more?

If you’re going to implement a hashtag and it’s only serving the brand I think you’re going to be in trouble.

2. Do you really need to create a new hashtag?

Every day there are tons of existing and new hashtags being tweeted, is yours adding anything new or different to the cacophony? Maybe it would be better just to engage people around hashtags they are already using. Check out hashtags.org to see what’s already going on.

3. Is this hashtag going to be hijacked?

There is no excuse at this point for a brand to be surprised when something like this happens. A hashtag is a type of user generated content and we’ve seen time and time again what happens when brands open up like this. So ask yourself, is your brand currently facing some dicey PR issues?

4. Understand culture

Before launching your hashtag make sure you’ve done a cultural audit. If you’re ad campaign shows to young women sharing a delicious, fresh-brewed tea, #2Girls1Cup is a very bad idea.

5. Connect to culture

The Super Bowl (all sports really), reality programming and awards shows tend to generate a lot of activity on Twitter. How can you leverage this with your hashtag?

6. Support your hashtag

In some ways a hashtag is more like a product itself than a communication tactic. You have to promote it with earned, owned and paid media if you want to see it grow roots and thrive.

7. What’s the longterm plan?

You’re putting a lot of effort into making a hashtag work, but is this campaign only going to last a day or a few weeks? Think about the longterm viability of your hashtag.

8. For God’s sake, measure!

Whatever you do, don’t go to all the trouble of creating a whole plan without having a measurement plan. Understand what you’re trying to accomplish with this hashtag. What does success look like? Use something like Hashtracking to get some analytics on your efforts.