Simply Measured wrote a blog post entitled 5 Effective Tactics for Facebook Hashtags. The content of this post really struck me – they stated that “hashtags are not yet driving additional engagement overall”. Perhaps this is because people are equally as likely to search for a term as they are to click on a hashtag, or perhaps because organisations are fundamentally using hashtags in a way that doesn’t prompt as much interaction as they would like.
The examples provided by Simply Measured include the American Express #PassionProject and Credit Suisse’s use of #Wimbledon. These examples are clearly associating the brands with other topics and events. This use of hashtags ensures that people that follow American Express or Credit Suisse on Twitter have instant access to these collaborations. Rather than a useless hashtag that nobody would bother clicking, these directly nudge people towards the linked project.
I think hashtags are best used in this context: when a brand is promoting themselves as linked to an ongoing campaign or event. It means the public can easily access that event through Twitter and discuss it with others. Perhaps this is why it doesn’t seem that brands itself are gaining engagement through hashtags, rather they are associating themselves with other people. This is an incredible generalisation and so obviously isn’t the case all the time, but considering hashtags are not as prolific across Twitter as I originally thought, and these examples were two of the most powerful uses of hashtags focused on by Simply Measured, I feel it is a fair conclusion to come to. So perhaps what brands need to do now is use hashtags to promote their internal campaigns and aspects of their own organisations more, to prompt people to discuss them and consequently engage with the brand itself.