We all know of Twitter and its powerful hashtag function. There have been many uses since its inception. The hashtag’s ability to connect people talking about the same things has indeed made the world quite a bit smaller. Now your voice can potentially reach millions of people, and you can see what they have to say as well. Of course this is an unprecedented opportunity for spreading whatever message you may have to express.
Twitter is so influential that many have used it to launch political campaigns, promote movies, concerts, even report on events in real-time. Social media has become so important there’s a wide range of college degree programs have lessons focusing on it like The University of Southern California’s Public Administration program for example, that wrote an infographic about social media’s capacity to organize protests.
Often we see how these campaigns play out once they’re live and they can be pretty hit or miss. Sometimes it seems like these things have no planning at all. There are those however, that get it right and their hashtag, as well as their message goes viral. Those are no accident, rather are a product of careful research and timing. Here are some things to consider when creating a hashtag campaign:
“Hashtag Hijacking” is taking a hashtag that is already trending and appropriating it for your campaign. It’s a tried and true method of getting people to see your campaign quickly. Many brands and organizations have used this to great effect, getting to the point that the hashtag becomes synonymous with their message.
The caveat being your content MUST be relevant. There have been many stories of people attempting to hijack a hashtag without researching first to see what the tag is all about. Look before you leap. Find out what people are saying in conjunction with the hashtag to get a sense of what it means to the people who post it. It doesn’t have to be what you’re talking about but you have to consider the potential to seem insensitive or not relevant at all.
It’s tempting to just put your message out there and let it grow through word of mouth. But you mustn’t forget that you are one of those mouths. The most successful twitter campaigns are never 1 or 2 tweets. There’s a back and forth, as well as new tweets keeping the conversation fresh and ongoing.
Keeping at the forefront of the conversation is crucial especially if say you’re a business attempting to build your brand. Putting yourself out there is likely going to draw people’s attention to you, and you’re going to need to have a system set up to deal with any attempts customers make to contact you.
It is essential that the person running the campaign have a good emotional intelligence quotient or EQ in order to keep the voice of the campaign sounding human. Also, in the event of a social faux pas, they would be able to diffuse the situation, like in the case of Digiorno attempting to hijack #WhyIStayed a hashtag that attempted to raise awareness to the issue of domestic violence. People were outraged thinking that the attempt was making light of the growing issue of domestic violence. Digiorno’s social media team personally wrote to everyone offended to apologize.
When composing the first tweets, you should keep in mind the length of your hashtag. While #SusanBoylesAlbumParty might get the message across about what you’re about, the tag is really long and every character counts. Your audience will hopefully want to tweet this to their followers and spread the word, but if your tag is too long it can make tweeting it a pain. This thought process is what likely led us to the unfortunate hashtag #susanalbumparty. But as we’ve seen before, staying on top of the conversation will help minimize these kinds of things.
Using abbreviations that keep things as clear as possible can work wonders. To use the above example, #SBAlbumParty or #SBAP would have been good substitutes. People might wonder what the initials mean, but that would get people talking about it. If you’re still having issues consider changing the words. You may find the switch up to be a better fit. Remember, potential tweeters have to put both their comment AND your hashtag for it to be effective.
This is by no means exhaustive, but these are important things to consider with any hashtag campaign that will help maximize effects while minimizing the potential negatives. Maybe if everyone kept these things in mind we could avoid some of the epic social media fails that we see on a daily basis.
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