We live in a world where newly-engaged couples choose a wedding hashtag before a venue. A time when photo albums are used mostly to find adorably embarrassing photos for #ThrowBackThursday. 

The hashtag has grown in popularity, shunning its humble roots as a pound sign and getting thrust into the spotlight by Twitter. Although hashtags have been used since the late ‘80s as a way to categorize images and online content, it wasn’t until 2007 that the hashtag truly made its debut. Chris Messina, a social tech guru, is said to have introduced hashtags on Twitter, and by 2009, the social media giant had formally included the use of hashtags into its code, linking tweets marked with the same hashtag. Just a year later, the term “trending” was, for lack of a better word, trending. Since then, major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest have followed suit.

Today, hashtags are an integral part of any successful digital campaign. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Keep these 5 tips in mind when crafting a hashtag:

1. Listen In #AsktheAudience

The internet is full of chatter, so lend your followers an ear. Find out what they’re already talking about and what engages them. Like a successful relationship, a solid digital campaign is about consistent, open communication. The better you listen to your audience, the more effectively you can reach them.

2. Determine Your Purpose #EndGame

With your target audience in mind, choose the best channels to communicate through and determine your purpose for the campaign. These questions can help you start thinking strategically:

  • Is this a one-time campaign or one with a longer shelf life? How long will it run?
  • What action do I want followers to take? Follow or like the post? Enter a contest?
  • Is this consistent with my brand’s overall message?

3. Stay Relevant #FreshtoDeath

It’s important to choose a hashtag that is creative, but not so far out of the box that consumers are confused by it. If they’re left wondering why the hashtag is relevant, you’ve lost your audience – in a matter of seconds. Keep your hashtag short and sweet. Jumbling too many words together is a surefire way to sabotage your campaign before it has even begun.

4. Do Your Research #GetSmart

Once you’ve got a few potential hashtags on your list, start snooping around to see if your hashtag is already being used. Poke around the web a bit to ensure your hashtag is original and won’t associate your brand with anything unsavory. Also, run the “Teenage Boy Test” to make sure your hashtag won’t have 16-year-olds snickering about double meanings or innuendos. McDonald’s learned this lesson the hard way … can you say #EpicFail?

5. Go Cross-Channel #ThinkBig

Now that you’ve officially settled on a hashtag for your digital campaign, consider how your campaign can span various platforms. Recall campaigns such as Always’ #LikeAGirl and Coca Cola’s #ShareACoke whose reach extended much further than social media.

At Motivated Marketing, we know that launching a digital campaign is no easy feat. That’s why it’s best to turn to the social media masters. Give us a call when you’re ready to take the first step.

(Hash)tag, you’re it!