Ever wondered how the ice bucket challenge hosted by ALS got so viral?
The answer is their well-crafted hashtag campaign.
The Ultimate Guide to Hashtag Campaign in 2017 will help you understand all the fundamentals you need to know about creating and driving hashtag campaigns on social media to increase brand awareness and engagement.
In case, you are not already familiar with the hashtags and their use on social media, I suggest you to first read our previous blog Hashtag – The Ultimate Guide.
So, let’s dive in.
What is a hashtag campaign?
A hashtag campaign is a course of action in which hashtags are created on the social media platforms to achieve defined objectives of marketing, public relations, helping shape brand image and increase engagement.
Hashtag Campaign Ideas
1. Contest/Giveaway Campaign
To increase engagement, reach, followers and overall brand awareness; contests, giveaways, sweepstakes work well. All you need to do is think of a creative hashtag, a contest, a CTA (Call-to-action) for your audience to participate in it and a prize to reward them with when they win.
You could also work with social media influencers to promote it properly and gain attention as more and more consumers will participate in the campaign.
- Like to win– The easiest contest of all, like to win requires participants to like a specific post to enter the contest and be eligible to win. Hashtags can be used to popularize them better.
- Comment to Win– In this contest, audience is asked to comment on one of your posts with your campaign’s hashtag as a way to stand a chance to win depending on the creativity of the comment or any parameter the contest holder may choose.
- Photo Contest– In these contests, you can get the users to post photos with a creative caption which could include a certain hashtag of your choice. This user generated content will help in boosting your existing hashtag campaign.
The winner can be chosen on the basis of most liked post or any similar parameter.
- Caption Contest– You basically ask your followers to caption a photo or video which you post to stand a chance to win along with your hashtag. To make it more beneficial for your social capital, the condition of the contest can be to follow you in order to be eligible for the contest.
- Retweet/Share To Win– Sharing/Re-Tweeting a certain post to enter a contest with your campaign’s hashtag. It increases engagement of your post.
- Brand Hashtag Campaign
A brand hashtag campaign is about positioning and marketing your brand on social media for a period long enough, making people aware of it and getting them engaged.
A well-run brand campaign ensures that your brand comes to people’s mind when they go for their next purchase.
The brand hashtags need to reflect your brand’s qualities and what makes it special, all the while staying relevant for long.
For your social media marketing strategy to be truly effective, create a hashtag surrounding your brand and market it fiercely so that hashtag becomes trending resulting tremendous promotion of your brand.
For instance, Nike has been using ‘Just do it.’ slogan as its hashtag for a long time now. It’s a part of its tweets more than often and #justdoit has become Nike’s brand!
- Influencer Hashtag Campaign
Influencer hashtag campaigns leverage the followers and reach of social media influencers and power users to popularize your product, brand, content, latest hashtag etc.
For instance, Madewell started a campaign with 5 influencers for the anniversary of their tote in #totewell campaign.
With this campaign itself, they reached over one million people who were interested in totebags.
The campaign was majorly driven by the quality content created by the infuencers.
- Utility Campaign
These campaigns are launched by the businesses with the objective of helping their customers by solving their issues.
Twitter has become a pseudo customer care center of various sorts for companies and their customers. Customers post complaints, mention the concerned company which respond to them as quickly as possible.
30% of the Interbrand Top 100 Brands now have dedicated customer service handles, with the goal of resolving customer issues as quickly as possible. SimplyMeasured
A nice example of utility campaign is that of KLM. KLM started a customer service campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #LiveReply to address queries and complaints of their customers.
Whenever someone tweeted a query to them, they responded with a Live Reply tweet that is a video uploaded on YouTube and shared on Twitter.
This was done to raise awareness around their customer care they provide online. The campaign was a hit due to quick responses by the KLM team.
Another great example is that of Volvo. One of the main hashtags Volvo uses on a monthly basis is #SwedeSpeak.
As it stands now, #SwedeSpeak is a branded Twitter chat by Volvo Cars of North America.
It is a monthly chat designed to connect with fans and to educate them about Volvo’s new products, accessories and auto shows.
Their comments will be seen and answered by someone at headquarters, whether an engineer, designer or even the CEO.
- Campaign To Build Social Followers
Hashtag campaigns can be utilized to build social followers to increase your social capital. You can organize takeovers of one of your social handles.
A takeover basically involves an influencer or a celebrity operating your social account and engaging with your followers on your behalf for a set period of time which could be a day or more.
It helps in increasing engagement of the existing followers as they engage with a celebrity unfiltered which won’t normally be possible. The influencer’s followers would also want to engage in the discussion so it helps in bringing a lot of new followers organically and quickly.
- Social cause
To do your bit for the society, you can implement a cause marketing campaign on social media. That is beneficial for you in two ways. One, you will be helping someone and two; you could also gain followers due to an improved brand image.
Make sure you have a clear and strong theme. Keep it simple for people to understand.
Try and keep the hashtag for the campaign reflective of the goal very clearly the way American Diabetes Association did with its #thisisdiabetes campaign.
7. CTA Hashtag Campaign
A Call-to-action (CTA) hashtag consists of an action for users to perform related to your brand which will give them a sense of participation and contribution. If you pair it with a social issue campaign like donating for a cause, it can do wonders.
The only thing you need to take care of is that it should be something they can do easily which could be discussing on a topic, sharing a photo, voting etc.
Steps For Creating A Successful Hashtag Campaign
- Have a team
First of all, get the ideal people to build a team for campaigning. An ideal team for handling a hashtag campaign could consist of the following:
Content Writer– Someone creative needs to be handling the content of your hashtag campaign. Content of posts, tweets, images or videos which will be uploaded need to be attractive and in sync with things that are trending as they will work better.
Engagement Manager – Have someone engaging with the users responding to the hashtag campaign who will be scheduling content posting on social media, liking, re-tweeting good tweets or replying to them.
Ultimately people want to converse with brands and if they know they will be responded to, then it’s more likely that they will engage.
Analytics Manager– Someone needs to track metrics continuously using hashtag tracking tools and suggest modifications in hashtag campaign strategy accordingly.
- Analyze brand perception
Research your brand’s perception before you start planning a hashtag campaign as public response will depend on that.
If public sentiment isn’t favorable to your brand then avoiding something involving UGC (User-generated content) is probably for the best.
It may backfire and you will have a #AskJPM or #McDStories of your own.
- Look for events
If there are events/festivals coming up which can be relevant to your brand, will help you to stand out. Use them to your advantage.
Create a hashtag campaign which allows you to use the opportunity without seeming like you are trying too hard the way DiGiorno’s Pizza used NFL season for their campaign.
- Keep a simple but innovative hashtag
Make the hashtags innovative but don’t complicate it. Also, if there are multiple words in the hashtag, capitalize their first letters so it’s easy to read and understand.
Try wordplaying with your brand name as that will help in guarding against hashjacking like #DiGiorNoYouDidnt.
- Set Priority of Social Channels
There are multiple channels supporting hashtags like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest etc. Select the channels and rank them according to their importance to your brand.
If your brand has greater reach and engagement on a particular channel, prioritize it over others.
Hashtags work best on Twitter and that’s where campaigns are started from generally.
- Plan paid promotions
With content explosion in this social media age, it’s hard to make things go viral without paying for it.
It’s important to chalk out a plan before you dive into paid promotions.
A proper plan in place would help you in making the most of your hashtag campaign in the following ways:
- No wastage of funds as there will be defined limits for the campaign budget
- Focus your ad campaign efforts on the right people by targeting your audience according to the following characteristics:
- Salaries and expenditures
- Monitor campaign metrics
You need to have a team in place to monitor and respond to the people engaging with your hashtag campaigns. Things can catch speed too soon and you need to be there to steer your hashtag campaign in the right direction so it doesn’t divert from the objective.
Use third party tools such as ExportTweet for hashtag tracking and analysis and keep an eye on metrics such as impressions generated, estimated reach of the tweets, top contributors of your campaign’s hashtag etc.
Find the best contributors and start engaging with them. Respond to positive or negative reactions in the best way possible.
It helps in knowing what kind of content is working and attracting engagement or if any changes in strategy are required.
A hashtag aggregator displays content related to a particular hashtag from different social media channels into a single stream so that you have access to content from all of them at once.
Why do I need it?
- Too many networks- Around 20 social media networks support hashtags which can have some content relevant to you which you don’t want to miss out on.
It’s hard to keep track of each network individually and very easy to miss out on important things. This is where hashtag aggregators come to the rescue.
Event live feed- It can be of great use for events to use hashtag aggregators as live-feed of the engagement their hashtag is receiving on social media.
That feed can also be displayed on the event so people can see posts with that hashtag which will motivate them to post.
Best And Worst Hashtag Campaigns
Let’s have a look at some of the best and the worst social media hashtag campaigns that I have come across.
Best Hashtag Campaigns
Domino’s started a campaign back in 2012 which involved knocking down the price of the Star Pizza of the day for orders from 12 PM- 3PM depending on the number of tweets posted from 9 AM-11 PM with the hashtag #LetsDoLunch.
Domino’s offered something very tangible to people which they could get just by tweeting something with the hashtag and convincing others to do the same.
The campaign idea was smart as it got the people to do marketing for Domino’s hashtag.
It was restricted to a time period, targeting people when they can engage, making it urgent enough to post a tweet with the hashtag #letsdolunch as soon as they find it or hear of it.
Needless to say, it was a very successful campaign.
There were 85,000 tweets posted on that day with the hashtag. Source
One of the best examples of social media campaigns is that of the #SFBATKID.
Make-A-Wish Foundation helped Miles, a five-year-old Lukemia patient, to fulfill his wish to save the city of San Francisco like Batman.
Clever Girls Collective, an influencer marketing agency capitalized the opportunity with the hashtag #SFBATKID.
The campaign quickly went viral and generated enormous response on social media.
There were tweets from then-President Barack Obama, former Batmans Christian Bale and Ben Affleck tweeted with the hashtag #SFBATKID.
Over 500,000 individual tweets using the official #SFBatKid and the unofficial #batkid hashtags, generating over 1.7 billion impressions. Source
Over 10,000 photos were posted on Instagram itself that very day with the hashtag #SFBatkid as reported by Mashable.
Worst Hashtag Campaigns
When the Egyptians started protesting against Hosni Mubarak, the tyrant who had been ruling their country for 30 years, the hashtag #Cairo started trending.
Kenneth Cole chose to tweet with it for promoting the designer’s new spring collection available in Cairo hoping for greater reach.
Instead, the tweet got a lot of negative backlash which led him to delete it and apologize for it later.
Humor is always tricky but hijacking a serious issue and making light of it is definitely not the right way to go as it will land you in trouble.
It’s important to gauge public sentiment about a social issue and act accordingly.
Negative publicity will get you attention but at the cost of a deteriorating brand image.
A campaign started by McDonald’s went awfully wrong when people began to share negative stories with their hashtag #McDStories, posting experiences like finding fingernails in patties.
Even PETA joined in, claiming that McDonald’s didn’t use real chicken.
As a result, the promoted hashtag was removed quickly.
It’s better not to have an open CTA with no specific directions as it’s hard to anticipate the ‘n’ number of ways in which it can get interpreted.
And if that hashtag starts trending then there’s a whole lot of negative publicity waiting for your brand.
Jp Morgan Chase and Co. decided to host a Twitter Q&A session using a #AskJPM for 1 hour controlled by its Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee.
Analyse your brand image before you start tweeting according to your next big plan.
Public sentiment needs to be gauged and the marketing strategy should be shaped accordingly.
What happened next was a PR fiasco waiting to go down in Twitter history as one of the worst hashtag fails.
The users started asking what everyone wanted to know from JP Morgan about their shady practices and ethical violations which helped bringing a huge crisis to US.
Hashtag campaign can be a game-changer for your social media presence.
Hope this article helped you in equipping yourself to launch and drive your own hashtag campaigns on social media.
Do let me know your feedback and experience with running hashtag campaigns in the comment section below.