Running a hashtag campaign is probably the most exciting thing any marketer can do on social media.
Over the last few years, I got to run a few interactive digital marketing campaigns, particularly on Twitter, with my social media team. Though, just like every other thing on social media, the way people run a hashtag campaign is also changing drastically.
Marketers are more inclined towards running a paid campaign than generating an organic traction.
Recently, I saw a renowned automobile brand’s name that was trending on Twitter. It took me only a few minutes to realize that it had paid marketing written all over it. Even though the massive coverage got them trending on Twitter, it wasn’t able to serve its true purpose. Almost all tweets were posted by paid marketers who were just copying and pasting tweets with duplicate content, having no real value about the car. They have no or little knowledge regarding the car or the automobile industry in general.
If your aim is just to get your hashtag trending on Twitter, then you are certainly doing it the wrong way. Your brand would be in the spotlight for a few hours, but it won’t serve its natural purpose of generating genuine leads.
I have come up with some suggestions that will make you run your next hashtag campaign on Twitter like a pro. Here are some common mistakes that you should avoid making in order to make the most out of your next campaign.
#1 LACK OF PLANNING BEFORE STARTING THE HASHTAG CAMPAIGN
This is undoubtedly one of the most evident mistakes that people make while running a hashtag campaign. If you simply start working on a campaign without making any plan, then it will certainly backfire in the long haul.
Before you commence any social media campaign, take a step back and try to understand the purpose behind running the campaign.
- Who is your target audience?
- What is the most relevant platform for your campaign, where your target audience is active?
- What is the purpose of your client behind this hashtag campaign?
- Does Hashtag clarify the purpose of running the campaign?
- Will it be profitable to the brand you are working for?
These are the kinds of questions that you need to ask before diving in.
Who can forget McDonald’s Twitter campaign (#McDStories) that went horribly wrong?
— Warren Whitlock (@WarrenWhitlock) January 26, 2012
Clearly, McDonald’s didn’t think of the repercussion before running their campaign.
Come up with a smart way to promote your campaign – like the way Red Bull did with their #PutACanOnIt campaign that took Twitter by a storm. Their hashtag was able to convey a precise message and people were able to relate themselves to it. They did their bit of research before launching the campaign.
— Red Bull (@redbull) November 11, 2014
#2 THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU DECIDE A HASHTAG
Needless to say, your hashtag should be relevant to your brand. Instead of simply coming up with a gibberish hashtag, make an effort and try to connect it with your brand voice.
For instance, when Susan Boyle’s team came up with the hashtag #Susanalbumparty to promote her new album, they had no idea that it would go so horribly wrong. People misinterpreted it as Su’s Anal Bum Party and it created a mess.
They had to change it to #SusanBoylesAlbumParty afterward.
The official twitter hashtag for Susan Boyle’s new release is #susanalbumparty Her social media team are either very naiive or geniuses.
— Phil Stead (@pjstead) November 21, 2012
Be more precise and connect your campaign with your brand. Don’t complicate things and convey a direct message to your audience. Coco-Cola’s #ShareACoke is a perfect example of how to provide value to a hashtag without any effort.
— Coca-Cola (@CocaCola) December 16, 2016
Here are some tips regarding how to make a hashtag relevant:
- Always come up with a single unique hashtag to drive your campaign instead of multiple hashtags.
- Don’t keep a hashtag longer than 40 characters. Users might hold back as they would have less space to write their message.
- Don’t club more than 2 keywords as it can confuse your audience. For instance, #uniteforamerica is better than #uniteforamericancitizens.
- Additionally, you should never use multilingual hashtags as it would filter your audience.
- Your hashtag should convey a message related to your campaign. Just like, #meetthefarmers is better than #McDstories.
Don’t let your hashtag act as a barrier and let more people use it without facing any trouble. Your audience will not start posting anything about your brand if your hashtag won’t define its purpose.
#3 SELECT RIGHT INFLUENCERS FOR HASHTAG CAMPAIGN
Let’s face it – running a hashtag campaign without influencers can be a tedious task. No, we aren’t talking about getting in touch with a celebrity to promote your brand on Twitter. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance that you engage with the right kind of influencers to expand the overall reach of your hashtag on any social media platform, including Twitter. Also, the related influencers should have an adequate knowledge in order to add value to your hashtag campaign.
In the following example, you can see EA’s attempt to reach out to Benjamin Burnley (a renowned American musician) and how they failed miserably.
The gaming company tried to promote their Star Wars Battlefront game with the help of famous singer and actor, Anna Kendrick.
When they sent their new game to Burnley, he declined their offer and opted to break the game and post the image on Instagram, where the musician has more than 90,000 followers.
So, the lesson is work with relevant influencers related to your domain only. Don’t offer your products or services to influencers who aren’t related to your industry.
#4 SPENDING MONEY ON SOCIAL MEDIA RESOURCES HAVING NO DOMAIN EXPERTISE
Though there is no harm in paying a little to get an added promotion, but you should not do this blindly. I have seen plenty of companies who simply pay agencies to get their hashtag trending. Most of the agencies just forward a report when their work is done, which doesn’t lead to any profit generation.
— Engineer बाबा™v5.01 (@ImBhaumil) January 5, 2017
The above tweet is a perfect example where individuals post something generic without adding any value to their content.
If your hashtag is getting trending on Twitter after spamming, then it can’t be of any use. Target your audience wisely and use Twitter as an effective marketing tool.
This is not a productive practice as your campaign won’t reach out to its target audience.
I hope this kind of spamming would be banned by social media networks soon.
#5 KEEP YOUR CONTENT WELL CURATED
If anyone searches for your hashtag or read your tweets, then they should get valuable information from it. This will also boost the overall engagement of your hashtag campaign.
Don’t simply copy-paste content from other marketers, as it will add no value to your campaign.
To achieve more traction, you should encourage your audience to post their doubts and questions. Make sure their queries are answered by experts. Try to run a tweetchat regarding topics your audience love, and encourage them to have a discussion with your experts.
Twitterchats can be organized from time to time and are one of the best ways to gain more leads. For instance, you can have a look at the following example.
— #TEDxGateway (@TEDxGateway) November 30, 2016
#6 BEING IMPATIENT
It takes a while to run a hashtag campaign. From selecting a hashtag to running the campaign, there should be a timeline for everything. Similarly, when you are interacting with influencers, you can’t expect them to endorse your hashtag instantly.
Take your time to build a relationship with influencers on Twitter. Retweet their content every once in a while and have fruitful conversations with them. It is also recommended to get in touch with a few key influencers before announcing your hashtag campaign. This will help you set some feasible expectations that your campaign can meet.
#7 NOT LETTING YOUR CAMPAIGN GROW NATURALLY
Your campaign can provide better results if it could propagate in an organic way. Too many times, marketers become overly competitive and try to spam Twitter to increase their hashtag’s reach.
You should try to distribute your content beforehand and make an effort to strengthen your relationship with other users. This is when you can take the help of your social media team and encourage them to reach out to their friends while launching a campaign.
Nevertheless, when you are promoting your hashtag, don’t just tag others randomly in your posts. Be more patient and give your hashtag some time to expand in a natural way.
For instance, check the following tweet with 26 replies (in the #bufferchat campaign). It is one of the best examples of how you can make your hashtag grow naturally. You can also try a similar technique so that more people can participate and share their opinion regarding the respective hashtag campaign.
— Buffer (@buffer) March 1, 2017
#8 LACK OF ENGAGEMENT WITH AUDIENCE
There are times when marketers don’t make an effort in order to interact with their audience. During the initial phase, you need to reach out to as many people as feasible.
Be as responsive as you can and engage with your audience using your hashtag in a natural way. Encourage others to contribute as well by including your hashtag in their tweets.
Additionally, always check before tweeting anything to your audience. Who can forget the disastrous move of US Airways when they tweeted an inappropriate picture as a response to one of their customers and embarrassed themselves all over Twitter.
— Matthew A. Gilbert (@MatthewAGilbert) April 15, 2014
#9 NOT TARGETING YOUR AUDIENCE
If you ask food bloggers to talk about a newly launched automobile, then it won’t create any traction. Target your audience and reach out to just the right kind of people while running your campaign.
You can always use Twitter’s advanced search to make things easier for you. It will help you identify your target audience and would stop you from running blind.
#10 MEASURE YOUR GROWTH WEEKLY USING HASHTAG TRACKER
Always maintain a perfect balance while running your campaign. Though you should not overdo it, but don’t take things for granted as well. Keep using Hashtag Analytics Tools like Socialert to track the overall reach of your hashtag.
Here is a snapshot of a sample report we generated for #tedxgateway.
#11 NO OVERDOSE – DON’T SHARE TOO MUCH
Lastly, don’t just beat around the bush while running your campaign. Be more precise and focus on giving something informative to your audience. If you tweet 15 times a day, then you won’t be able to provide anything informative to your audience. In fact, you would just end up irritating them.
You can also share content posted by other users while mentioning them to create more engagement and natural growth.
Also, when you are replying to your audience, avoid copying the same content. Try to customize it a little and don’t push it. Instead, have a more natural conversation with your audience to make your hashtag campaign successful.
See how @tedxgateway replied to a tweet while running one of the events.
— #TEDxGateway (@TEDxGateway) December 5, 2016
Even when you are running a hashtag campaign on any other medium like Instagram or Facebook, you can follow these golden rules and avoid making any unwanted mistake. I have learned a few lessons while running social media campaigns on other mediums that would certainly come handy to you as well.
We all learn from our mistakes while evolving ourselves. I’m sure that just like me you must have also made a few mistakes while running an online campaign. Share your stories in the comments and let us know how you mastered the art of running a hashtag campaign.