One of the best features of marketing is its dynamism. The ability to put a new spin on traditional marketing tasks infuses excitement and breathes new life into every day, routine marketing programmes.
The digital age has greatly enabled this dynamism. The many elements and features which have emerged due to the introduction of the worldwide web, has afforded many companies, both small and large, the luxury of representing their firms and products in many different formats and in varying and wider markets.
Among the latest emergence from the digital age is the hashtag. The tech savvy amongst us will immediately know what a hashtag is; its use, purposes, advantages and disadvantages. But for those who are just beginning to navigate the Internet, and social media, another discovery of the worldwide web, the ability to just send and receive an email is a victory.
A hashtag, more formally known as a metadata tag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) used on social media sites such as Twitter to identify messages on a specific topic. This means that when an individual clicks on a hashtag, he or she would be able to find all the thoughts and comments which are specific to that topic. This sole feature makes the hashtag a valuable marketing tool which can be utilised to capture valuable information for companies.
While it is not widely used here in Jamaica, many first-world marketers have made this element an integral part of their online branding and marketing campaigns. As local businesses move into the global marketplace, these elements must now be engaged in order to expand the company’s reach and identify more customers in new markets, resulting in increased sales and brand recognition.
Let us look at the example of Jamaican songstress, Tessanne Chin, now appearing on NBC’s The Voice. When Tessanne referred to music as her #breadandbutta, that phrase immediately set off a firestorm of tweets and tags on social media. The hashtag #breadandbutta, if properly managed by Tessanne’s team can track her new fan base, their locations and everything they are saying about her music between the points of her debut on the show to where she exits, (and we all hope it’s as the winner of the competition).
The hashtag therefore cannot be ignored. Tagged topics when properly and strategically implemented can get your business’ content found, target your market specifically and drastically improve your online presence.
In developing hashtags for a business, one of three strategies may be used: a brand strategy, a campaign-based strategy or by identifying what is ‘trending’ in your industry and seeking to capitalise on those trends.
The brand strategy essentially uses your company’s name and tagline with a view to increasing brand awareness. For example, #SandysCloset can create this hashtag and use it across all its social platforms to highlight both the products and services offered by the company. Important, social media is built on imagery, therefore good quality images are a must in this process.
By using the same hashtag across all platforms, customers can also be included in the company’s promotion and encouraged to add images of themselves in pieces from Sandy’s Closet to their social platforms using the same hashtag. This may also be used as a reward system for customers who share the most online to earn, for example, a 5% per cent discount on a future purchase. This type of sharing will considerably increase the company’s online presence and drive even more traffic to Sandy’s Closet.
The campaign-based strategy requires a more targeted approach. Say for instance, that Sandy’s Closet plans to introduce its Christmas Collection to capitalise on the season’s parties and special events. #SandysCloset may now add the hashtag #ChristmasCollection to identify its Christmas campaign. Once this is added, when a client clicks on the hashtag, the images and any comments relating to this collection will appear. Sandy is then able to see the kind of impact her Christmas Collection has made, any hits and misses and how those can be addressed in future Christmas or any other collection.
In today’s world where image is everything, trends form a big part of how people act, their lifestyle choices and even the company they keep. Trends also help to form one’s perception of a product or firm. A great example here goes back to the July birth of the royal baby, His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. As the first images of the baby surfaced on the Internet in the wool christening shawl made by G.H. Hurt & Son, both the designer and the company became a trending topic on most major websites and within hours the shawl was sold out.
A company that is able to align itself with a trending topic will be able to capitalise on an opportunity to increase brand and product awareness. When Apple releases the newest version of its iPhone and the local exclusive iPhone dealer desires an additional advertising boost, creating a hashtag which aligns to the phone’s release will guarantee increased online traffic, increased sales queries and of course, more sales.
So how do you create a hashtag? The purpose of creating a hashtag is to be able to track what is being said about your brand or product and by whom, so the first consideration is that your hashtag should be easy to remember as well as appealing. The next step is to include your hash and there you have it…. #happyhashtagging.