5 Rules for Building a Branded Hashtag

March 6, 2014
In the past year, companies and marketers have increasingly been using branded hashtags to spread awareness and boost sales. The figures don't lie. In the 2014 SuperBowl, social media exploded with brand-related hashtags, led by the Budweiser team and their hashtag #BestBuds, which generated as many as 101,000 tweets in one day. What is the formula for a successful brand-related hashtag?

1. Be brief and concise

Tweets are only limited to 140 characters so choose the words to use in your hashtag carefully. Social media experts advise that you use no more than two to three words. Keep these specific, concise and properly spelled. The characters should total only eight to twelve so potential followers can easily recall and type it in the search bar. You may use abbreviations and numbers to distinguish it from others. Avoid words that are not commonly used or may confuse followers.

2. Make it easy to remember

Many marketers use acronyms for fans to easily recall and check on the conversation time and again. For example, Victoria?s Secret Fashion Shows use #VSF instead for people to quickly type the letters and return to the conversation whenever convenient. Use catchy words and descriptions that are easy to remember and pronounce. Fans will also find it easier to talk about these when you shorten or abbreviate the terms. Budweiser's #BestBuds hashtag is relatable and very easy to recall. It is also short and to the point. Here's how it fared online. #BestBuds generated as many as 101,200 tweets in one day and has reached a total of 169,000 tweets from January 28 to this writing. The second most-tweeted hashtag was by Honda, #HugFest. The car manufacturer's hashtag was able to hit 33,900 tweets in one day.

3. Be specific

It is expected for popular events or issues to have many hashtags built around them, especially in this day and age of the Internet. You can still make a branded hashtag and keep it unique from others by using the right keywords, keeping the conversation relevant and providing good quality content that is not available in other hashtags. Invite relevant users and experts in the field to keep the discussions relevant and productive. Also share articles, blogs and other sources of information that will keep people interested for several days. You should manage the conversation to keep it within topic at all times.

4. Use proper grammar and spelling

The hashtag should also be properly spelled to show seriousness and professionalism. Many social media users will think less of the hashtag if you misspell words or do not know how to capitalize properly. Create separation in the keywords by capitalizing the first letter of each keyword. When providing content and tweeting, also use proper grammar. Avoid alternating small and big letters to appear more formal and bring in relevant users.

5. Invest in visual appeal

Branded hashtags are shown to be more successful if you include visuals like photos, videos and infographics. These are useful tools that will invite more people to join the conversation. Feeds are more attractive with pictures and links available and studies have shown that social media users are more likely to engage and respond to tweets with photos or visuals. Include visual aids in your future tweets and in the conversations to further explain your views. Of course, in the case of the brands we sampled here, they took the risk of investing on the launch of their hashtags by making sure it appears in one of the most watched sporting events in the world; hence, their astounding numbers. Even if you own a small business, a well-made and smartly marketed hashtag can hit these levels. The hashtag #MorningWin by belVita Breakfast Biscuits in late December 2013 is proof that you can generate attention if you're creative enough to get it. By integrating a highly related hashtag that makes people want to respond, it continues to gather tweet activity to this day. Continue using the following approaches and observe how quickly your follower count and user engagement will grow. Compare the results after each campaign using analytics tools and make the necessary changes to spread word about your brand quickly and effectively.

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