Many things can make or break your social media marketing campaign. Some of those things are completely out of your hand, like a hashtag hijacking, for example.
However, many other things are fully under your control and you can use them to make sure your hashtag campaign becomes a roaring success.
Hopefully, the following guidelines will help you navigate your campaign and keep full control over what shows up on your social media wall. No nasty surprises, no social media fallout.
1. Choose Your Hashtag Wisely
The first thing you have full control over is the hashtag you pick for your social media campaign. Choosing a hashtag can be a convoluted process, but this is one case where overthinking is a good idea.
Good hashtags need work and don’t happen by accident. So take your time, throw some ideas around with others and run the chosen hashtag by some uninvolved people before you go public with it.
Your hashtag should be unique, easy-to-remember and unambiguous.
What to avoid when choosing a hashtag
- Overly complicated hashtags no one can remember
- Acronyms can work, but only if they’re easy to understand
- Duplicates: research whether the same or a too similar hashtag is already in use
- Too common hashtags: you’re not going to wrestle #sorrynotsorry and other popular hashtags away from the crowds
- NSFW readings: poor Susan Boyle has never lived down her hashtag #susanalbumparty
Run your hashtag by a fresh pair of eyes, ideally not the most innocent person you know. Someone well-versed in ambiguity will spot unintentional double entendres and can make sure your hashtag isn’t potentially problematic.
2. Market Your Hashtag Everywhere
An important factor for any campaign is promoting it. It can be tempting to conclude that a social media campaign will thrive based on social media promotion alone. But don‘t abandon print and broadcast media because you think it’s outdated or has nothing to do with your campaign. Offline and online marketing can work well together.
Social media helps you reach your existing fans because they already follow your brand there and pay attention to what you’re saying. Meanwhile, print and billboard, as well as TV and radio ads, can give you access to new customers. A hashtag campaign, often fun and whimsical, is the perfect way to garner attention from outside your usual fan base.
Find out where your target audience can be found offline, and concentrate your efforts there. Start slapping your hashtag on print ads, billboard ads, flyers, freebies or even your product to make people curious and encourage them to check out your campaign. Include calls to action to make it absolutely clear where you want people to go next.
In 2014, Three UK ran a TV ad, apologising tongue-in-cheek for customers using their worldwide coverage to brag about their holidays and included a clear call to action for their hashtag #holidayspam at the end of the video.
Of course, your online promotion is equally important, so use your hashtag everywhere! Make sure to educate your followers about your campaign regularly, by promoting it in your newsletters and using your hashtag in your tweets and Instagram posts. While hashtags are of no use on Facebook anymore, you can still use them there to keep the hashtag present in the minds of your followers.
Most successful hashtag campaigns also have a “hub”, a microsite or a sub-page bundling all user-generated content and introducing/explaining the campaign. The URL of the hub should of course be communicated consistently and ideally include the hashtag itself, e.g. yourbrand.com/YOURHASHTAG or YOURHASHTAG.com.
While we do advocate shooting for a unique hashtag, that doesn’t mean you can’t use popular hashtags that fit with your topic together with your own hashtag. Feel free to hitch a bit of a ride, as long as you do it with respect.
3. Ask for the Right Content
I come across a lot of hashtag campaigns asking for user-generated content. One common mistake I see campaigns make is that they’re not being clear what kind of content they want people to submit.
Often, the instructions are non-existent, extremely vague or impossible to find on the brand’s social profiles and social media wall. People don’t really know what is expected of them. The result can be a complete lack of submissions or a social media wall with no coherent look.
If you don’t tell people exactly what is expected, you won’t get the submissions you were hoping for. You run the risk of your campaign running out of steam fast and your followers getting frustrated.
UGC: How to communicate what you are looking for
- Create visuals that clearly show what kind of content you want, what people can win if they take part and how they can submit their content (check out this visual by Infiniti GB for one of their contests)
- Adapt your visuals for different social media channels and post them regularly or pin them to your profile
- If you want a little more action, create an animated GIF and share that with your followers
- Create an explanatory video and post it to YouTube and your social channels
- Make good use of our Sponsored Tiles feature and post your explanatory visual directly to your social media wall
- Feature some real-life examples of great user-generated content that already matches your campaign’s goal
By the way, if you can’t explain the basics of your contest in one neat visual, then your campaign mechanics might be a bit too complicated. 😉
Remember to post all your visuals and videos using your own hashtag!
4. Curate Your Social Media Wall’s Content
Even with the best-laid plans, people might still post content that doesn’t quite fit what you were going for. After all, you can’t control what people post to their own timelines and profiles.
The good news is that you have 100% control over what shows up on your social media wall and what doesn’t by making good use of moderation features. Not only does this keep unwanted posts off your wall. Curating your wall also allows you to give people an impression of what you want them to post, in a show-don’t-just-tell kind of way.
Use the tools available to you
- Specify the right keywords and hashtags in your Walls.io settings; don’t add any common popular hashtags to avoid post bloat on your wall
- Choose between automatic and manual mode in your wall’s moderation settings
- On automatic, set up a blacklist to keep certain posts and keywords off your wall
- On manual mode, all posts are automatically deactivated and you will have to approve every single post you want to show and/or specify a whitelist
If you want to know more about Walls.io’s moderation features, check out our blog post about it.
Hide posts that don’t fit at all, but don’t go overboard when curating your wall. You wouldn’t want people to get frustrated about their content never even showing up on your social media wall.
Share your wisdom
As you can see, there are plenty of things firmly in your sphere of control during your social media campaign. Following these four steps we’ve outlined, you should be able to establish a firm foundation to build your campaign on. For a fine selection of well-executed hashtag campaigns, check out some of our showcases!
Of course, we don’t know everything 😉 So please, let us know if there’s anything else you think would be important for creating and running a successful hashtag campaign.