Why #Hashtag’s? The Power and Strategies behind their use.

March 05, 2015

Why #Hashtag’s? The Power and Strategies behind their use.

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Home Why #Hashtag’s? The Power and Strategies behind their use. By Scott Kendal Brown on hashtags | 05 Mar 2015


How many times have you seen a hashtag rant like this on social media. Hashtags have exploded in popularity and have either grouped us together or set us apart.

I remember the first time I used a # sign in front of a group of words, clumped together. It was 2009, and I was excited to join a conversation that Jimmy Fallon was having about Tiger Woods and his car crash situation. It was exhilarating thinking I might be able to join the conversation on TV.

With the lightning quick growth of hashtag use, I have been asked several times to explain the “what” & “why” to most of my elders, not to mention trying to explain the viral phenomenon of “#thedress”, to my retired parents!

Why #’s?

The main use of hashtags is to group conversations, or to start a new conversation altogether. Online conversations need focus, an organized way to group users that are talking about the same topic. When you have a group of users that are talking about the same topic, no one cares as much about who’s talking, who’s listening, and where the conversations begin and end, than the advertising world.

Hashtags have really found their home in advertising and, of course, the big adverising players are involved. Insurance compaines, the entire automobile industry, political campaigns and public service announcements, almost all are strategically using hashtags.

There are two main hashtag strategies. I like to think of them as the StandOut or #StandIn strategies. American luxury car brands Cadillac and Lincoln have, not suprisingly choosen opposite strategies in their recent ad campaigns.

Strategy No. 1 #StandOut

Original, unique, and creative hashtags create conversations that are usually singular to that idea or topic. I’ve used this strategy to categorize pictures of my classic chevy on Instagram, #71ChevySKB. This allocates all of the pictures of my truck into one location, making them easy to access and display.

This is the strategy Cadillac applied to their new ad campaign #DareGreatly. This creates a unique, campaign specific, conversation online. Cadillac then uses this hashtag to supplement all of their advertising and media buys: TV, Magazine, Online, Billboard etc. Everything flows into the #DareGreatly conversation.

This strategy makes analyzing a breeze and in our analytics of #DareGreatly, it was easy to see find the insights surrounding their self-created conversation. Almost everyone that posted to social, using that hashtag, was actively commenting on or about Cadillac. Consumers, dealerships, fans and critics are all able to join in on the #DareGreatly conversation with little static from irrelevant side conversation.


This strategy is great for being able to create the topic of conversation and #StandOut. Creating the topic of a conversation allows you to fully digest and understand the conversation as it grows organically. Boom! This is when hashtags become powerful. Now, you can really focus on the individual consumer, critic, or influencer. The conversation isn’t muddy with conversations that have nothing to do with your brand. Reaching out to to anyone that is in the conversation is as simple as asking someone across the table a question.

There are a few downsides to creating your own, unique hashtag and conversation. The question of “how are we going to get people to care about and comment with our hashtag” arises. Cadillac is able to combat this with an extensive ad campaign that uses sleek screenplay, sexy actors and actresses, and great copywriting to get you to care about #DareGreatly. If you are a smaller brand and don’t have the marketing budget of an advertising giant like Cadillac, you will need to the #StandOut strategy in addition to #StandIn strategy.

Strategy No. 2 #StandIn

Lincoln gambled in the other direction with their ad campaing #InTheMoment, starring Matthew McConaguhey. By selecting this tagline and corresponding hashtag, they are jumping in on a topic of social media conversation that is already established. Established conversations and hashtags vary in topic, but include all kinds of conversations. From #TBT (throw back thursday) to #akward, these hashtags can be broad or narrow, and broken into segments.

Inside of the hashtag #InTheMoment, there are social mentions on all platforms of social. From a radio station updating a playlist, to inspirational quotes to help you get through your day, the conversation can become enormous.



By applying this strategy, Linclon is able to join a conversation that is already going on, and interact with an audience that is already created. By injecting it’s campaign conversation into the mix, they are increasing their audience without having to seek them out through advertising and marketing. Then, Lincoln added the marketing and advertising to compliment the strategy, increasing the total audience size. This introduces their Lincoln audience, to a broader conversation and more importantly, introduces the broader conversation to the Lincoln audience and brand.

The power the # symbols contains! A symbol that you would only press on your phone if you were answering questions during a customer service phone call, now guides and controls online conversation to your products and services!

Don’t believe me?!

Online insurance company Esurance took their hashtag game to the next level with their “After” Super Bowl ad. They offered 1.5 million dollars that they “saved” by not advertising during the game, to the social mention that used the hashtag #EsuranceSaves30 and had the most influence.

According to Marketing Land‘s analysis of the hashtag, Esurance just about broke the internet. In the 36hrs following the Super Bowl, #EsuranceSaves30 accrued:

•5.4 million Twitter mentions •2.6 billion worldwide social impressions and 550 million impressions from other media•Increased Esurance’s follower growth nearly 3000%, @esurance going from 9,000 followers to 267,000

Wow….. That could possibly be the most successful use of a #StandOut hashtag strategy of all time.

By offering up a pile of cash, just for sharing their own, unique, hashtag, they pretty much won the internet.

Likes & R/T’s are not sales, so why does this matter?

Well, in a report by @MarketingProfs, the recent deal between Twitter and search giant Google has dramatically increased the value of #’s to your organic and paid search campaigns. In their analysis, tweets that include hashtags get indexed 11% of the time. The difference between your brand organically appearing in the Google search results could come down to whether or not you used hashtags!

Hashtags are very effective tools of “conversation organization.” They make the online world a lot easier to navigate and understand and can greatly increase the chance of your brand appearing organically in Google’s search results. Do yourself and your brand a favor, and start researching relavant hastags so you can begin to #StandIn and #StandOut in your marketing strategies.

If you have unique and interesting uses of hashtags, please share them with us @NUVI, or fittingly, #NUVItags. We love anything and everything to do with social!

hashtags | 05 Mar 2015 Twitter Facebook Google+ Scott Kendal Brown

Scott Kendal Brown

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