Most of us have seen and/or employed ‘hashtags’ in our social media posts. The keywords, used to categorize discussion and discover relevant comments, are now prevalent on most social media platforms, and can be valuable tools for promoting brands, communicating messages, and promoting two-way communication. If you’re on Twitter, you’re probably aware of the #YesAllWomen campaign created in response to the recent shootings in Santa Barbara. This campaign is important for several reasons. Most importantly, of course, it has created an opportunity for discourse on the inequities, disadvantages, and unfortunate realities American women are faced with in society on a day to day basis that is well-known and has gained significant public attention. Additionally, from a communications standpoint, the #YesAllWomen campaign provides an opportunity for us to discern some aspects of hashtag campaigns that make them especially successful.
1.) Make it Unique
Public discussions regarding misogyny and sexual violence have been ongoing for years; reasonably as long as social media platforms like Twitter have come into existence. However, #YesAllWomen has sticking power because its different and strays from the typical path of online misogyny and feminism hashtags. It approaches the subject from a fresh and new angle, and because of this, it is now easily recognizable to just about anyone using social media and has gained the attention of folks who would otherwise skim over the discussion. Try to think outside of the box when creating a hashtag you want to be closely related to your brand. This way when people come across it on their feeds, they will recall your brand or message and not that of your competitors.
2.) Make it Specific
Similarly to “make it unique,” picking specific hashtags is another effort to make yourself stand out from the crowd. The social media sphere is a busy, crowded place. A quick search of “feminism” brings up all sorts of opinions (for and against), arguments, and comments. However, when someone searches the #YesAllWomen hashtag, he or she knows to expect that the hashtag is used to discuss daily occurances of sexual violence or gender inequalities. Similarly, you’ll want to try and be as specific as possible when using hashtags to help break through the clutter and reach like-minded individuals and potential customers, clients, or supporters. For example, if your product is skincare, simply using the #skincare hashtag may not be enough, as it may be buried among thousands of other indentically-keyworded tweets or posts. However, if you post something more specific but also relevant, like #organicskincare or #sensitiveskincare, you’ve just narrowed your target audience to people looking for those specific types of skincare and are more likely to reach your desired audience!
3.) Make it Easy to Use
A long, arduous, or confusing hashtag is not going to gain traction in social media feeds. Social media is often about being concise (140 characters!?) and to the point. This is another way that the #YesAllWomen hashtag campaign succeeds, as it isn’t too long and it can be incorportated into a statement. Try to make the hashtags you utilize user-friendly. This could be by using simple, short phrases, words that can be incorporated into sentences, and by changing your phrases or titles into acronyms when necessary and appropriate. The idea is to give your viewers a quick sense of what you’re talking about… the hashtag doesn’t need to act as the TL;DR version of your tweet or post, it is more about categorizing the general topic or idea.
One last bit of advice is to vet your hashtags before you employ them. Just like a person on your feed who doesn’t know the premise of the #YesAllWomen campaign might look a little silly trying to use it, you’ll be most successful if you’re aware of what conversations you’re contributing to by using the hashtags you have in mind. The last thing you want is to think you’ve thought of a unique, specific hashtag that’s come to be related to something negative or another brand or message you don’t want to be related to. With this advice in mind and some practice, soon you should see marked improvement in your engagement and communication between you and your social media audience!
-Abby Foster, chikmedia intern
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