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What is a hashtag? #hashtag

Karen K. Burns


The humble hashtag, a word-cum-marketing method that is gradually making its way into the Estonian marketing landscape, has existed as such since 2007, but came to the attention of a wider audience back in 2009 when it was used to protest against Iran’s elections via social media channels (Twitter).

Generally the symbol # is used to mark metadata and it enables text grouping depending on what word and/or number comes after #. Thanks to its popularity the word ‘hashtag’ is now an official English word – it was added to the Oxford’s English Dictionary last month.

When a topic becomes very popular it starts ‘trending’ and Twitter makes it possible to look at the stats for the most popular topic each day and filter results by geographic area.For example, the most popular Twitter hashtag in the world at the time of writing this post is #AkhirnyaMilihjokowi – it labels an Indonesian politician and the global campaign in his support. In case you want to seek out the most popular topics on all the top social media sites  – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – the check out where all this information is gathered and analyzed.

How to use this within your company?

Sales campaigns

For companies that deal with sales there are a lot of different ways to integrate hashtagging as a marketing strategy. Perhaps the easiest is to organize sales campaigns. For example, Denim Dream stores all over the Baltics recently conducted a campaign called “Capture yourself a dress” where customers were encouraged to go to the store, try on a dress and take a selfie (photo of yourself) while wearing it and then upload it to Instagram using the hashtag #MyDenimDream. Every week Denim Dream raffled one person who would win the dress they were wearing in the photo as a reward.

Of course the campaign was immensely popular amogst women as statistics and the number of uploaded photos demonstrate. And of course losing the draw for the week didn’t mean the desired dress stayed in the shop – it is very likely it was still purchased. Even the author of this blogpost became a ‘victim’ and found a purse in the process. Campaigns like this one can be conducted in furniture stores, cosmetics, jewelry, computer and mobile stores and in many other places.

Increasing overall brand awareness

By integrating your company’s hashtag (ours is #RedWallDigital) into all your social media posts you create a good reputation for yourself because every time your company’s name or corresponding (campaign) topic is being searched the results show connected topics and web pages – user can find more useful information about you. By using # you can guide the most knowledgeable (and more valuable) clients in your direction – the customers who actively seek products and services who come across your information through hashtags are more likely to buy from you.

Presenting a portfolio

One swell way the photographers, makeup artists and hair stylists and all other kind of creators can comfortably present their portfolio and work they have done and at the same time generate good karma is using hashtags. Well known Estonian makeup artist working in Dubai Diana Mauer tags all of her makeup photos #DianaMauerMakeup – in case she needs to present her portfolio quickly on the go she would simply put her own hashtag in Google search and all the photos of her work are nicely presented together.

Presenting a product catalog

Like discussed in our previous blog post where we talked about ISKU’s Pinterest pictures the use of #hashtags is a good way to mark your product photos with metadata using the name of your brand or company. As with the above mentioned portfolio, all your product photos can then be quickly found and brought into spotlight with just one Google search. We think it especially useful for small brands whose hashtags have not yet been taken into general global use as yet. (Check out #CocaCola for example – almost 3 million photos!)

On telly: to advertise products or TV shows

The method of generating discussion about a TV program by using a # with the name of the show or its host has been in use outside of Estonia for a fair wee while by now. At the moment, thanks to the World Cup there is a hashtag for each and every every game and viewers can create a discussion or comment on the game by linking their tweets or Facebook/ Instagram posts with that particular hashtag. For example, in Estonia the ones who are currently using this method are the Summer TV program hosts via #suvesangarid and also the much talked about family feature Secret Society of Souptown using the hashtag #susafilm.

Before it was a #hashtag

Before you start using a hashtag check that nobody else has already made it their own. Your hashtag should be unique to your brand. It is good to keep in mind that the more your brand grows the more people become aware of your # and therefore might start adding personal posts with your hashtag that in return increase your brand’s reach in the vastness of the Internet… Happy hashtagging!

Pictures from our Pinterest board.