Hashtag is a term you hear quite a bit and will only continue to hear. You may be wondering, what is a hashtag? A hashtag (#) is a sign previously known to most as the pound sign that’s now used on social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. When someone adds a hashtag to a social update, they are opening the door to a conversation with other people who are interested in the same hashtag.
For instance, we tag our Instagram photos #MelissasProduce, and our fans often tag their produce photos #MelissasProduce as well. If you search through photos with that tag, you’ll find a running stream of photos related to Melissa’s. Note that hashtags are words or phrases without spaces preceded by the # sign.
Hashtags allow us to engage with people we otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach, build branded campaigns and, most importantly, measure the results. You can use hashtags in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes.
The list below breaks down five of the key ways to use hashtags on Twitter.
- Marketing Campaigns
We have used hashtags to spread the word about a campaign in a way that’s clearly associated with Melissa’s. Once the campaign has started, we are accurately able to monitor our hashtags to gauge the level of activity and interest, benchmark other campaigns, organize fan-generated content and learn from how people are interacting with our product or brand. Our #HatchMatch campaign, which encourages users to tag photos of their dishes cooked with Hatch, is a great example. We can learn from our fans, and they can gain inspiration from one another. All you need to do is click on #HatchMatch to see what people are doing with their Hatch chiles.
One way Twitter users (and marketers) use hashtags is to search and monitor specific interests, experiences and purchase potential. For example, if Melissa’s tweeted a link to the Hatch Chile burger recipe on our website with the hashtags #HatchMatch and #HatchChile, we would increase the chance of reaching Hatch Chile heads who are interested in recipes, roasts, products, and anything else that’s Hatch Chile.
- Twitter Chats/Twitter Parties
“Twitter Chats” are virtual events that connect users through a specific hashtag. This way, the chat’s moderator can organize a real-time conversation as users find one another via the hashtag. For example, if we hosted a regular Twitter Chat or Q&A session about fruits and vegetables, we might use the hashtag #FreshChat or #HealthyTalk, which would create a lasting stream of conversation for users to find, view and interact with.
We often search for relevant hashtags to discover interests, sentiment, attitudes and demographics around specific products, events, or trending conversation. This is a smart way to plan future Twitter campaigns. For instance, if we want to know how consumers are preparing Dutch Yellow® Potatoes, or other baby potatoes, we can search hashtags like #babypotato, #dutchyellowpotato and #littlepotato to learn what consumers are doing with potatoes. We can also learn where most of the conversation is coming from, geographically and demographically. Try doing some research for yourself. Go to Twitter.com and type #MelissasProduce in the search bar. Send an email telling me what you find and I will do something special for you!
Different hashtags can be measured and compared to identify trends, growth, and disparities. This is important for recurring or cyclical campaigns and competitive analysis. For instance, this is the second year of our #HatchMatch social media campaign. In 2013 users posted approximately 120 images and tweets tagged #HatchMatch. This year about 200 tweets tagged #HatchMatch went out, which shows us that our #HatchMatch campaign is growing along with our Hatch program.
Why are hashtags meaningful to you on Twitter?
Twitter is a network built for speed and engagement, which can pose a challenge as we can’t sit around watching Twitter all day long. Hashtags allow us to follow along with relevant conversations, either at our own pace or in real time to facilitate real-time conversations. Additionally, the hashtags allow us to generate more brand impressions. When a Yankees fan is at the game and searches #Yankees, he or she may see a post we’ve tagged #Yankees and go find some Melissa’s snacks at the stadium. Or, as we like to call them, #healthyoptions.