Social media births a hashtag generation

In the world of emerging media, the most successful brands “are those that are able to tell their stories in the most interesting ways.” Social media has provided a new way to do just that, while also allowing people to have a conversation through the hashtag trend.

A hashtag is a way to organize content on social forums, allowing users take part in a social dialogue while also promoting the brand.


Unique branded hashtag

Companies can create hashtags specific to their brands as a way to promote member-only promotions such as #StarbucksForLife. Such campaign-specific hashtags allow not only the brand to communicate with the consumer community, but for members of the consumer community to share with each other during the duration of the special promotion.



Brands can also use hashtags to increase social media engagement with events, such as this Shabby Apple contest requiring contestants to “post a sketch, computer drawing or photograph of your design on to your instagram with  #shabbyapple #daretodesign.”


Contest participants can encourage others to visit the brand page to vote, which in turn increases traffic of current and potential customers.

Leverage trending topic

Brands can also leverage trending topics such as today’s #TalkLikeAPirateDay. Brands like Macy’s found a way to make the topic relevant to their brand. This works to the company’s benefit as users will see Macy’s when they click this trending topic.

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Call to action 

Brands and organizations can also attach value to their hashtags with a call to action. With an objective, such as this CDC Flu campaign, users are prompted to do more than just read or share the content, they are asked to be a part of the solution as well as a larger conversation.


What do you think of this trend? Do you use hashtags?



12 thoughts on “Social media births a hashtag generation

  1. I can still remember when hashtags were mainly referred to as “pound”. The growth of the hashtag trend explains how much social media has grown in recent years. Hashtags has translated to multiple platforms. What platform do think hashtags are most useful on ?


  2. Hi Jessica, I think that hashtags are a very beneficial way that brands can build recognition in the social space and a good way to standardize specific campaigns. I think there are two concerns that brands need to be conscious of: Putting a hashtag out to the public can solicit negative feedback that can damage a brand and brands need to be aware of why a particular hashtag may be trending. Here’s an article that posts some of the biggest brand hashtag “fails.”

    With that in mind do you think that the benefits of using hashtags outweigh the potential negatives?


  3. This is a truly relevant topic. In my opinion, the hashtags that I find most successful are the ones who adapt popular keywords to their campaigns (as in: #Throwback, #Yolo, or #DropMic), are attached to cause marketing, involve a contest (just like your example), have humor in them, or create customer feedback (like #OreoHorrorStories). More creative examples can be read in this article attached. Best wishes! Julieta


    • Julieta: Thank you for your feedback, and for sharing the list of successful hashtag campaigns. I really like the Denny’s example, #CollegeIn5Words, as it demonstrates how brands can find a way to connect to trending topics in a way that is relevant and interesting. What’s your favorite hashtag campaign?


  4. I think hashtags are a great way for brands to leverage audience support for their marketing campaigns and when brands can jump into a trending hashtag conversation it can be even better. However, some brands have failed miserably at the hashtag game. Just one example that comes to mind is when DiGiorno’s Pizza used #WhyIStayed to suggest that people stay in abusive relationships for pizza.


    • Thanks for sharing this example! I agree that not every hashtag is appropriate or effective. While jumping onto a trending hashtag can be beneficial to increasing a brand’s reach, it is important that IMC professionals make sure that the hashtag is relevant to the brand’s image. This article provides a few tips for successful hashtag use.


  5. Hashtags have become an integral part of communicating with consumers. The university I work for keeps an official list of approved hashtags for all offices on campus. The idea behind the “official” hashtag list is that they have all been vetted to make sure the hashtag isn’t already connected with another topic or business. The list is also a source for cross-promotions from the various offices around campus.
    All the webinars, seminars and meetings now have official hashtags too. These are very helpful because you can search by topic.


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