How Do You Know If Your Hashtag Is Working?

August 1, 2013
When using social media, hashtags are almost indispensable when trying to grab more attention and followers. Each campaign has to be prepared carefully and the results must be evaluated to determine which areas must be maintained and those that need more work. The effects of hashtags can be evaluated through several factors. Social analytics is one of the most accurate ways of measuring response and engagement. These can also explain why some approaches do not work as well.

Initial Signs Your Hashtag May Be Failing

1. No guarantees

There are a number of social media products on Twitter that promise increased visual appeal and increase in followers numbering in the thousands. An example is promoted hashtags. These cost thousands of dollars and will put advertisements in the most visible places on the social media platform, thereby encouraging people to click or follow to get more details. However, there are no guarantees that these will render the best results. The hashtag #susanalbumparty suffered the same fate. hash01

2. Low engagement

Companies can determine reach and impressions to fully grasp the extent of their social media engagement activity. People will do a variety of actions depending on the attractiveness of the tweet or hashtag such as favoriting, replying, sending a direct message back or choosing to follow the account. The analytics scores will show the comparisons based on tweets and impressions made. There is also a timeline that will indicate how much engagement was achieved within a 24-hour or 7-day period (or even as far back as one year). For the purpose of showing engagement, let's have a look at the wildly popular hashtag #Obama versus the not-so-popular #Barack.

3. Negative feedback

Some social media users will be very direct in saying that the hashtag or issue is irrelevant, uninteresting or bad. Some brands made terrible mistakes by introducing hashtags that spark a lot of ridicule or target sensitive issues. Online flames have erupted because of badly made hashtags. When conversations are no longer conducive or when people become unruly, it is best to stop altogether. The hashtag #MuslimRage became the subject of racist remarks once.

4. No response

Sometimes, hashtags can be introduced without making a mark at all. The only people responding may only be your immediate family and friends. One of the main reasons may be that there are already several others existing with the same name or the words used may be too general so online users cannot distinguish what it is truly about. Compare the favorites, retweets and responses of different hashtags you introduced then list down the possible reasons for such responses.

5. Online users attack you instead

The promotional campaign resulted to a complete turnaround wherein online users target you instead and talk about bad experiences and drawbacks. It is best to immediately shut down the hashtag before further damage can result. McDonald?s experienced a similar problem with #McDStories. Instead of encouraging people to share their good experiences in the fast food chain, people started sharing horror stories of their meals and activities at various branches.

How to Deal with the Problem

The first thing to do is to control the damage done by stopping the hashtag altogether and removing it from the stream immediately. Some brands were quick to respond to the situation by removing the posts immediately and then sending out an apology to social media fans. Others quietly removed the posts within a few hours and keep quiet, waiting for the commotion to subside. When campaigns do not receive a lot of engagement or existed quietly, check the results using social media analytics. Determine the best times when tweets are responded to by online users as well as the right words to use to attract attention. Some of the common reasons why people fail to make an impact is using very general terms. Lack of specificity means lack of information, so these will not draw as many online users as expected.

Secrets of a Successful Hashtag

One of the best hashtags that continue to do well through the years is #VSFashionShow which features the annual lingerie event. Even though the activity is already widely popular and well-anticipated, the use of a hashtag improved the hype and kept online users posted with updates, insider news and photos. Over the past year, the hashtag has actually garnered 1.7 million tweets -- and counting!   People simply needed to rely on their smart phones and mobile devices to get more details. The words used are simple, there were detailed and regular tweets and other useful and informative social media content was provided all the time such as photos, videos and links. Launching a hashtag a few weeks before an actual event will also increase the hype and spread the information quickly to a larger audience. Companies have more time preparing for the show and build up the anticipation and interest of potential clients using the hashtag. Constant visibility is also important which means that regular updates and tweets are expected on a daily basis. The conversations must be well-guided and monitored. Individuals should be encouraged to share information, links and their own content to keep discussions relevant and interesting. In the end, these are the ones that score well in hashtag analytics.

Featured Resources


Connect on Twitter


Find us around the web

Lean Hashtags Facebook Hashtags Twitter Hashtags Google Plus image