How to hashtag your way to the top on social

Should you be using a hashtag in your next campaign?


Absolutely, but only if there's a clear purpose for it to exist in the first place. Too often we see hashtags added onto a campaign because it's 'the thing to do', rather than there being a reason for your audience to engage with it.


With a little research and creative thinking, hashtags can be a serious weapon in any marketer's arsenal. They quickly bring together online conversations from across social channels and give you the ability to increase the reach of your content significantly - for free. 


With 91% of 19-44 year olds owning a smartphone and 63% of adults using social networking sites daily, it’s not surprising that brands recognise the significance of a hashtag and driving conversations on social.


Internet activities by age group, Great Britain (ONS, 2016).

Inernet Activities by age group, Great Britain 2016 statistics. 

Sounds good, tell me more

Many of the best hashtags are explicitly or implicitly behavioural: they convey a strong message and a reason to participate in the conversation. Let's not forget social media isn't a channel for broadcast communication, it's a means to encourage two-way conversation, build communities and foster engagement. Your hashtag needs to support this strategy, whether you're asking people to share pictures, join into a discussion or enter a competition - make sure there's a reason to engage.


Brands who’ve hit the #jackpot


Here are some great examples of successful hashtag campaigns:


South West is Best – celebrating local beauty with #SWisBest


Ok, so this is one of our own! SWisBest started as an Instagram passion project, sharing images of travel and tourism destinations in the South West along with the catchy motto ‘South West is best’. Initially the images were posted by Bowline’s founder Jess Jeary, but before long the account hashtag gained traction due to its catchy, memorable nature and the fact it encouraged followers to go out and snap great locations for themselves. Jess knew that her audience were passionate about where they lived and wanted to build on this.


User-generated content started to flood in and Jess began sharing the best images on the feed. The hashtag has now been used over 250,000 times and users are thrilled when their photos get featured on the feed thanks to the account’s 28.3k followers (as of March 2017). Followers are therefore extremely engaged and are motivated to submit their photos via the hashtag for the chance to get featured, seeing the account go from strength to strength.



South West is Best Instagram Account 


Coca-cola – bringing people together with #ShareACoke


One of the most successful hashtag campaigns to date has to be Coca Cola’s 2014 #ShareACoke campaign. Switching out the brand logo for popular names gave bottles a personalised feel and customers were eager to find their name and share a coke with friends and family, as per the simple call to action.


User-generated content went through the roof, as people began snapping photos of themselves with their personalised bottle in order to be in with a chance to feature on the company’s billboards and website. However, the very premise of sharing a coke played on human interaction and made consumers feel more closely connected to friends and family.


More than 70 countries launched the campaign and according to UK statistics, Coke saw 998 million impressions on Twitter, 235,000 tweets from 111,000 using the hashtag and more than 150 million personalised bottles sold.


Charmin – full-frontal toilet humour with #TweetFromTheSeat


Charmin played on the knowledge that lots of us spend time on our phones when we visit the loo, and their #TweetFromTheSeat campaign was full of wit, turning a mundane everyday activity into a chance to have a right old chuckle.


With 77,400 Twitter followers and 1,041,987 Facebook followers, the toilet paper brand are obviously doing something right and attribute their success to a well-established tone of voice which they tailor for each social platform.


“We’ve been able to cultivate a very engaged audience because we’re constantly listening and watching our brand’s sentiment. We tweak it to strike the right balance depending on the platform.”


Laura Dressman, Charmin’s Communications Manager


Dare to read the toilet-time tweets at your own risk…


Hashtag creation - our top do's and don'ts


Here's some handy tips to consider when creating your next hashtag, do;

  • Keep it short and snappy - it's got to be memorable
  • Ensure it's easy to spell – common spellings are often better optimised for discovery
  • Keep it social and encourage engagement clearly - i.e. take part in a competition, join the conversation...
  • Make it unique or risk getting lost in the crowd
  • Monitor your hashtags and respond to people using them


Be wary of:

  • Double meanings – capitalise multiple words to ensure clarity
  • Current events (ensure your campaign isn’t inconsiderate or ill-informed)
  • Hashtags already in use – check every social network!
  • Hijackers - when hashtags get popular this is a very real risk. Think about how you'll manage this upfront.


We hope this has opened your eyes to some great campaigns and given you the tips you need to create a hashtag campaign with confidence! Want to talk more about social? Drop us a line!