The Importance of the Hashtag

We recently were asked by a client to explain the importance of using hashtags. It was a good challenge and it really got us thinking about how we track and measure the effectiveness of our programs both from a live and in-person standpoint, as well as from a social media and virality standpoint.

Everywhere you look, hashtags are being used. Their use in social media messaging helps to sort, classify and call attention to what you’re saying online. Hashtags empower your messages, making them part of a global multi-platform conversation.

The hashtag has been a key topic for many social media insight stories, and also the butt of many jokes. One of the most famous blew up the internet last September thanks to Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, and let’s not forget Quest Love – see infamous video here.

And yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, “hashtag” is now in the 2014 Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, along with Selfie, Tweep and 147 other New Words.

While brands are still getting the hang of hashtags, they tend to change them often (as much as with every tweet) and really only get away with that because they don’t have to care if they have a follower base in the millions. But when you are hoping for outreach in the tens of thousands (a normal marketing campaign goal for most brands and agencies) then hashtag tracking and consistency becomes something of an important factor.

But don’t lose sight of how other hashtags play a role in your campaign results. It is not just your hashtag you need to track, but other hashtags that might make a difference. For instance, anything from your competitors hashtags surrounding a similar campaign to common misspellings of your hashtags.

Being able to track and consolidate as much historical and real-time hashtag data is also important. And being able to pick out major influencers (the empty vessel of a celebrity for instance; big reach, low impact) from your campaign hashtag is a primary concern for analytics down the road. Not to mention the competitive analysis with the aforementioned competitors, who most likely didn’t take all variables into account.

So remember to #InsertHashtagHere.

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