A hashtag is defined as:
"A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media sites such as Twitter to identify messages on a specific topic"
Hashtags are used across multiple social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and any more, where users can search for a particular hashtag to discover other content, trends, information or conversations surrounding that relevant topic.
When it comes to public relations campaigns, business promotion and using social media to inspire and trigger positive action towards a particular topic, event or disaster, adopting a hashtag is incredibly powerful.
The UNICEF ‘Awaaz Do’ campaign aimed to provide schooling for 8 million disadvantage and uneducated Indian children. This campaign triggered positive social action through the successful use of a hashtag, which was used across various social media platforms to raise awareness and provide scope for the campaign and issue. The hashtag #awaazdo was mentioned 1,525 times, where it sparked 203, 248 people to sign up and support the project.
The Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign aimed to change society’s perception and standard of beauty, and encourage woman across the world to feel confident and beautiful in their own unique skin. Portrait sketchers were drawn according to the woman’s self-description, and then another sketch was drawn based on the description of strangers who had met them for the first time. The differences in perception were incredible, which sparked great support to encourage self-confidence. The hashtag #wearebeautiful was used to monitor discussion surrounding the campaign, where the success of this campaign increased Doves sales by 20 per cent in just one year.
It is noticeably clear that various businesses, brands and public relations campaigns are jumping onto the social media bandwagon in an attempt to engage, share and connect with their target market. In order to spread the word about your business, products, brand, services, or particular events or issues various hashtags can be used to reach and expand an audience base.
Tips on using a hashtag for a public relations campaign:
1. Research the hashtag that will be used for the campaign which will host conversation, to make sure it isn’t already in use.
2. Monitor the scope and reach of the hashtag using various social media tracking websites, including Social Mention, Google Alerts, and Hootsuite. These tools can provide very useful, and insightful information regarding the campaigns scope and level of engagement generated.
3. Respond to users who are using the hashtag, and engage in conversation surrounding the topic, event, or issue. Use the hashtag to set an agenda for conversation.
Here is a useful YouTube video offering advice on using a hashtag:
1. Hashtag: http://bit.ly/RrxjLO
2. Dove Real Beauty Sketch Campaign: https://www.flickr.com/photos/designerhk/8709702603/in/photolist-egDv9g-9cZcNb