Since hashtags began on Twitter in 2007, they have extended across the social media landscape. Hashtags are words, or collections of words, beginning with the “#” symbol that creates a hyperlink. These hyperlinks connect posts and tweets and make them searchable for other users. As hashtags have become more popular in use, they have extended into the Marketing and Advertising scene where they can be used to create brand awareness and conduct research.
As hashtags have gained popularity on social media there has been substantial increase in applications for organizations to trademark hashtags, especially in the U.S. Trademarked hashtags can keep competing organizations from using similar hashtags, but does not stop social media users from utilizing them. This creates spaces within social media where users can read user-generated content about an organization, a campaign, or brand.
Hashtags are frequently used to categorize the content of Tweets or posts on other social media. These categories can be searched by other users or when enough users are using the hashtag, it can be marked as trending.
During the 2016 GOP Presidential Debate, Donald Trump's campaign showed that the candidate that dominates in social media can win the night, despite performing poorly on stage. Trump was able to garner extraordinary support via Twitter using hashtags, thus increasing his presence to overshadow his competition. This goes to show that creating an influence on social media, even in politics, can create enough buzz to help win a presidency.
Hashtag campaigns are regularly used by marketers to get social media users to create user-generated content for their brand. User-generated content is a great way to get promoted online without having to do any of the work. By using a hashtag campaign, all of the content can be readily found in one place where users can immerse themselves in a topic.
TV advertising can also impact engagement on social media when including a hashtag campaign within the advertisement. Research has shown that warm advertisements translate into higher shared content. However, this requires the advertising to be original and unique.
Using hashtags can allow for faster communication regarding brand and information in SNS advertising. Research found that advertisements that included hashtags increased sharing activities.
Socially popular keywords, such as hashtags, can be directly tied to brand awareness which correlates to a company's future cash flow. This research shows that popularity in keywords was related to the salience for the brand. Not only does this let an organization track potential earnings, but also reputation of their brand.
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