Thoughts 07.04.15

Hashtag marketing – how brands are making their mark in the social sphere

Hashtag marketing

Since its conception in 2007 the hashtag has played a key role on social media, spreading from Twitter to almost all major social networks and even everyday conversation. Their searchable, clickable and measurable nature has proved them to be a valuable asset for marketers. According to Buddy Media, tweets with hashtags receive 2x more engagement than those without – but it’s not just a case of simply throwing in a hashtag to make your campaign more ‘social’, brands need to be clear about its purpose and how they want audiences to interact with it for effective results.

Driving sales
Each time a person tweeted the hashtag #letsdolunch to Domino’s Pizza, the price of a pepperoni pizza dropped. A total of 85,000 tweets were received, knocking down the price from £15.99 to £7.74. A simple and effective use of the hashtag to perform a direct action; as a result lunchtime sales saw an increase during that day. In 2012, the brand reported a 14.6% uplift in full-year pre-tax to £43.6m, driven by a 43% leap in online sales aided by low-cost digital marketing.

Extending reach and attracting new audiences
Snickers’ reactive tweet to Luis Suarez’s controversial World Cup bite is a great example of how brands are capitalising on trending topics, associating themselves with high talkability moments to extend their reach. Their timely and clever reaction generated 15 million impressions, five thousand new Twitter followers in less than two days and led to their own hashtag, #EatASnickers, becoming one of the all time top 10 hashtags related to #LuisSuarez.

Driving engagement and campaign awareness
To raise awareness for the launch of Disney’s film Wreck-It-Ralph, we created an 8-bit takeover of East London’s Brick Lane. We didn’t promote 8-Bit Lane or use Disney branding, and wanted the public to discover it for themselves. News of the pop-up spread fast via word of mouth but also on social thanks to a large hashtag we had tagged onsite. This authentic approach and not bombarding audiences with branded hashtags encouraged them to share their experiences without ever feeling pushed to. 1.25 million users came in contact with the hashtag within the first six hours of launch, firmly positioning Disney at the centre of the conversation.

Building brand equity
In 2012, the Philippine’s Department of Tourism developed a strikingly simple and human claim that would rally huge support from Filipinos; it was demonstrated through the hashtag #Itsmorefuninthephilippines. The campaign resonated well amongst Filipino audiences and the hashtag triggered an explosion of user-generated content, which helped to build a positive association for the brand. The campaign line was mentioned once every minute on social media and campaign research showed high scores for likeability (92%), believability (87%), empathy (86%) and uniqueness (82%).

Cross-platform marketing
Pepsi’s global campaign ‘Live For Now’ uses the hashtag #LiveForNow as a way to unite all branded content which spans across TV, online, outdoor and radio. Pepsi Pulse, the brand’s Tumblr-like dashboard pulls in various content using the hashtag, creating cross-platform integration and consistent campaign storytelling. Similarly, we’re helping Carlsberg to revive its iconic ‘If Carslberg Did…’ strapline in the UK, hijacking news and social trends with ‘If Carsberg Did’ memes. To support the brand’s UK Twitter account launch, we’ve been leading the conversation; creating branded content that reignites the popular strapline, which has been subject to various user-generated interpretations over the years. The strength of the hashtag now allows us to extend this idea across print, outdoor and various other outputs in a consistent style, connecting each piece of content with this one unifying thought: #IfCarlsbergDid.

It’s evident that hashtags have the power to make a valuable impact in the social sphere and now more than ever brands are recognising the influence hashtags have on consumer behaviour. Of course there are the obvious blunders to avoid; making sure the hashtag is user friendly and isn’t already owned, and it’s also important to note that hashtags perform differently across social channels. For example Facebook hashtags may not emulate the same impact as Twitter given the more private nature of Facebook profiles. But with careful thought and early involvement in the creative process, hashtags can really help brands take off. With social listening tools becoming more sophisticated, marketers can also take joy in proving the value of their hashtag campaigns with more confidence.

Read our contribution to the debate on how to harness the hashtag on The Marketing Society here.