Twitter, Instagram, now even Facebook: they all use hashtags. Hashtags are meant to be used as a way to search things that are about a topic, or use the same words or phrases. But a lot of people have played into an annoying trend of using hashtags that are a mile long and 100% useless. #ireallyliketoblogbutnooneevenreadsit. If I have to stare at your hashtag for 10+ seconds just to decipher what words are in it, you’re doing it wrong. These also totally defeat the purpose of hashtagging in the first place. But there is a ray of shining light left for hashtags that still make them purposeful and actually enjoyable: viral hashtags.
What makes a hashtag gain insane popularity? My theory is that it’s one that helps people share stories, or open up a conversation. At any given moment, if you look at whats trending on Twitter you will most likely see at least one hashtag like #MyGirlfriendNotAllowedTo which opens up a treasure trove of clever and funny tweets. Hashtags like this even make it all the way to TV shows, like #ShitMyDadSays (even if that show didn’t go so well). You’ll also see trending hashtags for things that happening right that very second. For example, last Sunday you could have followed #Grammys and been up to date with all the opinionated things people had to say about the show. The Grammys killed it at social media interactions this year and hashtags opening up the conversation on Twitter was a big part of it.
The most genius hashtags are ones that happen every week. I’m talkin’ your #TBT/#FBF, #MCM/#WCW. I guarantee you if you open your Instagram on any Monday or Wednesday you will see multiple Man Crush Monday or Woman Crush Wednesday posts, either of a celebrity crush or that individual’s significant other (Every. Single. Week. We get it, you’re dating, so obviously your crushin’). Same thing for Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday. You will see so many baby and childhood pictures from the people you follow that you’ll feel like you were there for every awkward moment of their life (I’m really guilty of posting these hashtags too much, but I can’t help it that I was adorable as a child. You definitely wont see any of my horrifying middle school days though).
So my question is, why aren’t brands playing into some of the most popular hashtags? Here’s some ideas:
- Play into #TBT. Brands can post old/vintage advertisements, videos, packaging, etc. It would make your customers feel nostalgic for your product, and remind them just how long you’ve been doing what you do.
- Take part in conversations. Find ways to make events happening and being discussed relevant to your company or brand and take part in the conversation. (Remember when Oreo brilliantly did this during the last Super Bowl?)
- Create your OWN viral hashtag! Some brands have already been doing this, but you have to craft it just right. Make sure its concise, relatable, and won’t blow up in your face.
We are at a pivotal point in the hashtag time continuum. A fork in the hashtag road. One path continues to lead us down the #hashtaggingfornofrickenreason road, but other path! Ah the other path, it leads us down the functional, relevant, actually entertaining road, on which we could all benefit.