How to Develop a Successful #Hashtag Campaign

With the rise of Twitter and Instagram came the rise of the hashtag. The best brands are using popular existing hashtags to their advantage, and they are also coming up with their own branded hashtags.

Where to Use Hashtags

Hashtags should be used in a number of different places to get the maximum benefits associated with implementing them. The most obvious place to use hashtags is on individual posts, as this makes them more findable.

On Twitter®, it’s wise to use no more than two hashtags, according to data gathered by Insightpool, which shared its findings at a panel for Social Media Week Chicago 2015. Any more than that gives off a vibe of desperation and appears overly-promotional.

On Instagram®, however, you can usually get away with using more hashtags without appearing tacky. Many brands add them in unobtrusive ways by making them a part of the comments section on an individual post instead of showcasing them prominently in the caption. The benefit is that as followers comment on photos, the hashtags get hidden.

Besides general but relevant hashtag use, brands are starting to create their own branded hashtags.

Why Use Branded Hashtags?

Creating a branded hashtag is essential for sourcing user-generated content in a consistent way. Restaurants lend especially well to this practice, as many people are taking pictures of their food and checking in on social media. But any brand can implement a branded hashtag and get results with the right strategy.

Branded hashtags can also help with impressions and new-user acquisition. If someone sees a friend posting using a branded hashtag, he or she may become curious about its origins and click through to see related posts, including your brand’s own content.

How to Create a Branded Hashtag

There are many different ways to go about creating a branded hashtag, but keep these best practices in mind:

  • Keep it short. When people are using mobile devices, they want to type as little as possible. Plus, you want your branded hashtag to be memorable to improve the chances of people using it.
  • … But don’t sacrifice length for understanding. It should be somewhat easy to recognize your brand based on the hashtag. If people don’t have any idea how it connects, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
  • Don’t be afraid to infuse the personality of your brand in your branded hashtag. It’s OK to be funny or cheeky as long as the meaning is still recognizable.
  • Ask other people for feedback—including employees in other departments and people outside of the company. They’ll have honest insight that will get you out of your own head.


How to Use Branded Hashtags

Besides in the text area of posts, it may be advantageous to also add a brand-related hashtag to photos as a watermark. Make sure it’s small and not distracting. In general, this works better for quote posts—not beautiful images.

Finally, if you’re trying to promote a branded hashtag, add it (with a call to action to use it) in your company’s Instagram and Twitter bios.

Don’t forget to use your branded hashtag on all of your posts as well! You want people to see a lot of content if they click on your hashtag, and the easiest way to do that is by consistently using it yourself.

The more places you advertise your branded hashtag, the more likely people are to use it. Even if your customers know you have a branded hashtag, they might not know what it is and may give up on trying to use it if it isn’t easy to find.

Besides using it on your social media accounts, it’s good to add your branded hashtag to your website (Instagram streams are in vogue) and offline in the form of in-store signage.

What will your branded hashtag be?