How Businesses Can Leverage Twitter’s Hashtag to Improve Marketing

Note: This article was updated on June 29th, 2020 to reflect more up-to-date information on Twitter marketing for businesses. 

The “Hashtag” has become such a popular phenomenon on Twitter and throughout many social media platforms that celebrities Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon created a video parody that has already received 16 million views on YouTube!

While Timberlake and Fallon joke about how people tend to overuse the hashtag, from a social media and marketing perspective, there are ways to strategically utilize this keyword and topic marker to gauge performance of your campaigns. 

The “#” symbol carries different meanings and is called by different names across the world. However, in terms of social media, we all know this symbol to mean “hashtag.” Hashtags are simple words or phrases that help send a powerful message to users. They can effectively categorize posts and attract users to become part of the conversation.

But where did this tool come from? Chris Messina noticed back in 2007 that many users’ Twitter timelines seemed to be flooded with irrelevant content that appeared disorganized and somewhat confusing. In order to try and provide a solution to this problem, Messina channeled the popular # symbol that was used by coders to group information and messages across the entire Internet. Thus, the hashtag as we know it was born in social media.

The hashtag grew in popularity as users continued to utilize them to sift through the information constantly pouring through on their timelines. It is now common practice to use the hashtag throughout Instagram, Pinterest and many other social media channels. Hashtags can now be used as a way for people to show participation in an event or celebration, such as #loveislove during June’s Pride Month. Hashtags can also be used to find important information or conversations regarding current events, such as #BlackLivesMatter or #COVID19 as we have seen recently. Hashtags are essential for many people to discover trending topics and jump in on the conversation.

It’s important to understand best practices for using hashtags if you’re planning on integrating them into your social media marketing. Here are three great ways to utilize hashtags to attract users to engage with your brand and future campaigns.

1. Campaign Based Hashtag

The next time you’re trying to run a marketing campaign, utilize the hashtag in a creative way to see whether or not people are positively interacting. Placing the hashtag on your website, social media posts or even your email signature can help introduce your users to your hashtag and keep it top of mind. They can also help judge just how engaged people are with your brand and content.  

For example, if you are at an event or hosting one, constantly telling and reminding people to incorporate the hashtag will encourage the participants to promote the event through their social channels. Additionally, more interaction and communication will occur between the users who are utilizing the campaign-based hashtag. You will also have a variety of user-generated content to repost throughout the event and use as assets for your future campaigns and promotions. We see this method used everywhere from music festivals to corporate conferences. The result? More chatter about your brand or event!

2. Leverage Your Advertisements

When it comes to online advertisements, tracking is normally not an issue. If your campaign is more traditional, like television, incorporating a hashtag can help determine the success of a campaign. Twitter sees such a direct correlation between Twitter and television that they’ve teamed up with Nielsen to create “Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings.”

If people are interacting with your brand in a positive way through a hashtag that they have seen on television, you know that your campaign definitely has some legs!

If you don’t have the budget for a television campaign, advertising directly on Twitter can help create a “viral” type campaign if a hashtag is properly incorporated. You’ll only pay for the person clicking on your ad, but if they integrate your hashtag, more users will see the keyword or topic and start engaging. Again, this leads to more buzz around your campaign and therefore, better results. 

3. Crisis Management

Let’s say an unexpected emergency breaks out at your business (we’ve all been there). Letting your customers know that they can get in contact with a representative and receive a prompt response by incorporating a hashtag on Twitter can be a win-win. This also allows users to ask direct questions that can even be easily answered with a quick response tweeted from your organization. This is definitely a better option than having hundreds of worried customers on hold for hours on end.

You’ll be able to see the issues that everyone is having and respond in a timely manner. Quick, streamlined communication in times of crisis is an effective way to put your customers at ease and make them feel like they are being heard. Many times, customers will even start helping each other out with their issues by seeing the hashtag and communicating with one another to resolve it. This will reduce the amount of pressure on your customer service representatives and ultimately make your customers place a higher level of trust in your business.

In conclusion, make your #Hashtag simple, short and unique. This is outlined in Twitter’s best practices for hashtags, but also applies across multiple platforms where hashtags are now popular. Also, it is extremely important to make sure your use of hashtags is not overwhelming for users. Using too many hashtags on your posts can actually be distracting and take away from the important information you are trying to get across. It can also appear inauthentic and make your social media posts seem cluttered. Make sure you are strategically thinking about the way you want to communicate with your users and how you want them to use your hashtag to achieve your marketing goals. If you follow the above-mentioned steps and find ways to creatively promote your hashtag, you could be well on your way to a successful marketing campaign with increased engagement.