There’s no denying it… #hashtags are here to stay. Defined as “a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the number sign (“#”),” the hashtag is a form of metadata tag used on social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and the very first hashtag ever appeared on Twitter in 20071 (where they are still most often used). Hashtags have since become a big part of our culture, with a couple naming their newborn daughter “Hashtag” in 20122 and entertainers like Jimmy Fallon using them regularly in their shows.
These days, hashtagged statements are appearing in advertising just as often as websites and taglines, sometimes even replacing them entirely. Since it costs nothing to open a Twitter account and start tweeting, it’s easy to see why hashtags have become so popular among businesses of all types and sizes. And with nearly one third of Canadians saying they “don’t go a day without checking social media”3 and Canada being the third highest Twitter user by Country4 (the U.S. is #1, the U.K is #2), there’s never been a better time to give hashtags a try if you haven’t yet.
Hashtags are the new #WordOfMouth
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising, and getting people to share your company’s hashtag does just that. Hashtags are also a great way to get potential consumers more engaged with your brand. So how do you get them to do it? We’ve gathered some examples of successful hashtag campaigns to help inspire you:
Domino’s U.K. #letsdolunch
This one-day promotion, which ran for just 2 hours (9am-11am) in the U.K., cut the price of Domino’s Pepperoni Passion Pizza by one pence (approximately .02 cents CDN) every time someone tweeted the hashtag #letsdolunch. After 85,000 tweets, the price dropped to half-price, and Domino’s offered the half-price pizza from 11am to 3pm that day.5
In 2013, American beer brand Budweiser ran a heartstring-tugging Super Bowl TV ad featuring the Budweiser Clydesdale horses. The ad finished with a call-to-action asking viewers to help them name the Clydesdale foal shown in the ad, by tweeting name suggestions with the hashtag #clydesdales. The campaign was a huge hit, with thousands of people tweeting names, and the tweets continued months after the campaign was finished! (By the way, the winning name for the foal was “Hope.”)6
Knowing that people tend to watch TV with their smartphone within reach, the HGTV (Home and Garden TV) network aired TV spots asking viewers to share their home décor and garden photos on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #lovehome and #hgtv. Selected fan photos were then featured in future TV ads and on the HGTV blog.7 The response was huge, and HGTV received more than 119,000 submissions.8
Online clothing e-tailer Bonobos used a “flock to unlock” strategy for their 24-hour Twitter-exclusive or “twixclusive” sale. A couple of days in advance, they posted teaser tweets with the hashtag “#twixclusive,” encouraging their Twitter followers to spread the word by sharing their tweet. When the message had been shared 49 times, the sale went live. The result was 100 first-time buyers and 1,200% ROI.9
People seem to love posting pictures of their food online. Wendy’s decided to capitalize on this trend to help promote their new Flatbread Grilled Chicken sandwich. They encouraged customers to tweet a photo of the Flatbread Grilled Chicken sandwich to @Wendys with the hashtag #twEATfor1K. Each day a customer tweeted a picture of the sandwich with the hashtag, they would be eligible to win $1,000.10 The hashtag #twEATfor1K was tweeted over 50,000 times11. And the fact that people sometimes misread it as “Twerkfor1K” only helped to make the campaign more viral and entertaining.12