I asked the question we’ve all been wondering as marketers, is the hashtag over? Well let’s look into why they were so huge in the first place.
They started on Twitter in 2007. Chris Messina was an attendee at Bar Camp and wanted to create a way for fellow attendees to post about the event. And that ‘s how the hashtag was born. A simple way of being able to track posts about a specific topic.
Now the hashtag has blown up as it’s own method of communication. People still use it so that people searching a specific topic like #RepublicanDebate can see their post. But the hashtag has also become a way to create campaigns, grow brand awareness, be funny, and communicate.
Individuals and companies utilize hashtags differently. Individuals tend to use them to attach a topic to their post like #NewiPhone, while a brand will either try to comment on a trending topic or create their own for their followers to use.
One successful hashtag campaign came from Audi. Their #WantAnR8 was huge, mainly because those who used the hashtag were entered to win an R8 for a day. Another clever campaign came from Denny’s, known for being a late night hub for college students and teens. They created the campaign #CollegeIn5Words. It was a brand awareness builder and worked because people were able to relate so well to it, and it went after one of their biggest target markets: college students.
While there are good hashtag campaigns, there are always many bad ones. Hubspot’s article “7 Hilarious Twitter Brand Hashtag Fails” lists a bunch of campaigns that stand out because they did not turn out the way the brand wanted. One of those is #McDstories. They were probably hoping for the success that Denny’s got with their #CollegeIn5Words campaign, but it didn’t turn out quite right. There were so many negative tweets that they pulled the hashtag within 2 hours.
Walgreen’s #ILoveWalgreens campaign also ended poorly. Mainly because the company purchased a trending hashtag, and once Twitter users realized it they became upset.
Hashtags can be a great way to promote a new product, promote the brand, or connect with fans. But they can also go terribly wrong if not used correctly.
Now on Facebook, brands can use hashtags to allow for users to search and find their post more easily. If your company is writing about a current topic like the new iphone, using hashtag #iPhoneSE, then people searching that on Facebook may find you. But on Facebook, hashtags just aren’t that important anymore. They’re useful if they’re easy to remember and relevant, or for being creative. But it’s overkill to use more than 2.
On LinkedIn, hashtags are a no. On Instagram, they’re very important for those browsing. Instagram is the exception where overkill of hashtags is the norm. You will get more reach if you are utilizing relevant hashtags on your posts. When you do post, keep the hashtags in the comments, that way they don’t clutter the post.
Ok, well I haven’t really given a definitive answer as to whether hashtags are dead or not. I think it’s up to you!
Let’s recap. On Twitter, they’re great for creating a campaign about a new product or service, or growing brand awareness. On Facebook, they’re useful for creativity, holidays (#HappyCheeseburgerDay), or promoting a popular topic (#SuperBowlSunday). On LinkedIn, just don’t use them, please! On Instagram, use relevant hashtags to allow those browsing to find your images, don’t use popular tags like #love or #good, use specific ones like #MotivationMonday or #MiamiBeach.
So I guess the hashtag isn’t dead after all!
PS. Utilize Tag Board to find relevant hashtags for your posts.