(Originally posted in SteamFeed)
As a digital marketer, you work in a world of instant gratification and insatiable curiosity. Your target market is used to engaging with an extraordinary amount of information at home, at work, and on mobile devices through social media. The hashtag is the unifying element that will take your marketing campaign to the next level.
The mechanics of a hashtag, particularly popular on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook, allow any user to curate her social stream with just one click. No complicated searching and following particular people or causes. Just click, point, and be entertained.
Want to read or watch what’s interesting to you? Click a hashtag.
Want to find people who have had experiences similar to yours? Click a hashtag.
If you represent a brand or business looking to capitalize on the benefits of the hashtag culture, you need to build and promote a “forever” or “evergreen” hashtag. It’s the online cornerstone of your culture, and you can’t afford to ignore it.
Tapping Into Organic Interests
During a recent Mattr campaign, hashtag traffic accounted for nearly eight times the engagement of our branded social media efforts. The most surprising part of that insight was that the engagement we received came from users who didn’t even follow the brand; they were following other people or brands that used the attractive campaign hashtag and engaged with the campaign organically.
What matters here are organic user interests. It’s far simpler for users to click on a hashtag to instantly see what’s happening within that topic than to search all the people and brands that might be posting about it. Just take the #Oscars celebrity selfies. Users wanted to see what was happening in their area of interest right then and engage with millions of other users on the topic, not follow particular celebrities or users to see what they’re up to.
Creating a Memorable Hashtag
Perhaps the best example of an effective evergreen hashtag is Nike’s #JustDoIt. The slogan has a long history as Nike’s inspirational tagline, and it excites you to action. It’s your constant reminder that, with Nike, you can do it, whether it’s running three miles for the first time or running a marathon.
While it may seem simple from the outside, an evergreen hashtag has a lot going on inside. It’s like a stimulant that releases new and wonderful feelings your users weren’t sure they had. But to get that effect, it needs to be as well-thought-out and researched as when you picked your brand or company name. Here are four guidelines for building the most memorable “forever” hashtag:
1. Start with your brand truths.
Your brand truths are those guiding statements that you look back on during difficult product or strategy decisions. The guts of the evergreen tag should be deeply nested in the three or four core tenets of your brand. From there, lift a phrase that encompasses one or more of them that can apply to other aspects of life in a positive way.
2. Seek something universal.
The best hashtags are ones that users can apply to posts that have nothing to do with your brand. That’s what makes them so shareable and so popular. Choosing a hashtag with a universal positive application is a critical characteristic of an evergreen hashtag.
3. Consider the present and the future.
When brainstorming your brand’s evergreen hashtag, make sure you think about how the hashtag is being used in the present and how it could be used in the future. Is it way out of your brand’s personality? Has it been used for crass or insipid trends? See if your target audience is using it now or if they might be turned off by it in the future. Make sure it’s not being used for some weighty cause that, upon insertion of your brand, would be horrifyingly inappropriate.
4. Make it readable.
Short, readable headlines run the online world. Your hashtag needs to be easy to type, and it must take up as few precious characters as possible. When implementing your hashtag, “camel case” the words so the hashtag is easy to understand at a glance. (Think “#TheNextBigThing” versus “#thenextbigthing.”)
You also need to take into account how the letters look as a whole in popular social network fonts. For example, “#JustDoIt” could read an awful lot like “Just Dolt,” couldn’t it? When you’re forced to use a tagline with words that just don’t look good mashed together, use an underscore. Although they’re not easy to type, they’re becoming more and more popular as hashtags evolve.
Evergreen hashtags provide valuable opportunities for your target market to engage with your brand. And what’s more, an organically interested user will promote your brand in a natural way that spreads much further than a sponsored update or advertisement. Put the time and effort into developing a readable, shareable evergreen hashtag to find out how many users — beyond your followers — can find themselves in your brand’s story.