Branded Hashtag How-to

by | Oct 1, 2018


In today’s branding world the term hashtag is a recognizable term. In the years before social media, the simple # symbol was known by a few names—number sign, pound sign, the symbol above the 3 on the keyboard, etc. It wasn’t until recently that the name hashtagbecame the standard name for this social media staple. In August 2007, Chris Messina suggested using the # as an organizational tool for groups on Twitter. This novel idea of using a readily available keystroke took off from there, and by 2009 Twitter officially adopted hashtags. Since then people have used the hashtag for everything from where they’re posting from (such as #newyork) to what they are posting about (such as #photography).

Using a hashtag to coincide with a launch, release, or campaign can be greatly beneficial to help build your brand. There seems to be no real science behind crafting the best hashtag, as people throw a # in front of any phrase they can think of. When it comes to using hashtags and branding, however, there are some best practices. By keeping certain elements in mind, you lessen the chance of performing hashtag blunders.

Creating the Hashtag

Before you run out and start using the first hashtag you can think of, you need to compile a list of possible hashtags. Your list needs to consist of the possible hashtags that relate to the item you’re trying to promote. Think of terms that will tie in with your brand, as well as be a natural fit for your brand. If your customers are already talking about your brand online, look at their posts and see if they are using any hashtags when they speak about your brand.

Research Your Hashtag List

After you have compiled your list you need to start to whittle it down. You do this by looking carefully at each entry and looking for the pros and cons. Do searches to see if your term is already being used elsewhere. If the term is already being used, how likely will your brand be able to take it over? Even if you think your brand can take it over, keep in mind that any previous usage from other people can show up in customer searches.

Look at the wording and see if the words, since there are no spaces, can be confused with another message. Sometimes the way people read your hashtag will not be the way you intended. Unfortunately, a lot of the misread hashtags take an often-dirtier approach. In 2012, singer Susan Boyle had a new album coming out and the hashtag #susanalbumparty was used. It didn’t take long before the hashtag was overrun with posts that the record company did not want associated with the album launch (#SusanAlbumParty vs. #SusAnalBumParty). Therapists also have had unfortunate luck when attempting to use the #therapist (#Therapist vs. #TheRapist) which has brought up an entirely different dialog. Remember that you can capitalize letters between words to help in the reading of the combined words. Even with that you need to double-check and triple-check.

Get Your # Out There

Once your brand has zeroed in on the appropriate hashtag you need to use it everywhere that is applicable. If, for example, your hashtag is for a user conference you need to promote the hashtag:

  • Advertisements
  • Social Media Posts
  • Conference Material(s)
  • Event Signage
  • Flyers

By including your hashtag on everything that correlates to the event, activity, launch or other, you help spark a conversation among your customers, employees, and community at large.

Once your hashtag has gone “live” you need to continually monitor its use. Try to foster a natural communication with users of the hashtag, use authentic realistic conversations. If the hashtag conversation starts to go south, you need to be able to pull the plug at any time.

Ideas To Make Your Brand Better Now:

  • Make a list of possible, relatable hashtags
  • Research your potential hashtags for possible issues or problems that may arise
  • Promote your hashtag everywhere reasonably connected to its use

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