If the use of a hashtag isn’t already a touchy (and annoying) subject for some, brands entering this space are treading on thin ice!
Being a member of the social team, I am all for the use of a hashtag… Where relevant! Every day, brands are constantly trying harder and harder to understand the ways their audience is using social media and how they can mimic them to join the conversation.
Just as we all should with our own personal use of social media, brands should be authentic and they should do what they would usually do and not try to be something they’re not. Every individual’s social media feed is a very personal space where we are quick to judge and dismiss things that don’t belong or fit in naturally. Therefore, if brands are going to play in this environment they need to offer something that is relevant, helpful, entertaining or consumers will tell them to get the hell out.
So, if we are going to incorporate the use of hashtags, it must be understood that hashtags are only as valuable as the engagement they produce. It shouldn’t be “we need to use a hashtag to speak to our audience, what should it be?” or “Can we add a hashtag? Perhaps we’ll just add in the product?” The hashtag needs to evolve naturally for a particular reason with an outcome.
To flesh this out, I have a couple of examples of hashtags with some easy numbers from Instagram.
Some poor examples…
#car – 24,708,174 posts on Instagram using this hashtag. Where on earth would your brand find relevance or exposure in there?
#toastynuts – 99 posts on Instagram. This hashtag was included on some outdoor advertising. The objective isn’t clear at all (is there even one?) If you check the hashtag you will find very minimal and… Irrelevant images of ‘toastynuts’
#abrandgluestore – 192 posts on Instagram using this hashtag. This hashtag has been used to aggregate competition entries for a local Abrand jeans and Glue store collaboration. There is not a single post in this aggregation that isn’t relevant to their unique competition.
#justdoit – 7,635,749 posts on Instagram a brand has created a hashtag that people use in their lives and associate with the brand
#IllRideWithYou – 56,813 instagram posts – a viral hashtag used by millions, which evolved naturally as Australians took a stand against anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of the Martin Place siege.
So whilst it may be tempting to use popular hashtags in the hopes of reaching thousands (or millions) of people on social media, you are best to plan out your objectives first and only implement the use of the hashtag tool where relevant.