by Jeff Urban, Columnist, September 16, 2016
Who doesn’t want to have Taylor Swift-inspired #squadgoals? Or to throw up a #TBT photo on a Thursday?
The hashtag serves a dual purpose for the millennial generation, which has grown up with constant connection to technology. Whether it’s to track a post, or to play into a larger international conversation, the hashtag serves as a utility to aggregate millions of user posts. But for millennials, the hashtag has become a cultural phenomenon, enough so that saying, “hashtag” whatever phrase they include has become a part of everyday speech.
What does that mean for marketers? Basically, hashtags are a must, but more significantly, doing it correctly is of the utmost importance. Over the past year, we’ve seen excellent examples of hashtags that have driven marketing campaigns that have flourished with millennial consumers.
Red Bull’s #PutACanOnIt
Inspired by a photo in which a photographer put a Red Bull can over a Mini Cooper imitating a Red Bull car, the company took the hashtag and ran with it. Thousands of people around the world took the hashtag and made it their own “Red Bull moment” by placing the iconic cans in distinct places. Not only was it Streamy Award-worthy for “Best Use of a Hashtag,” but the simple hashtag spurred authentic interactions with the brand.
Coca Cola’s #ShareaCoke
If you haven’t seen the “Share a Coke with…” cans, you must have been living under a rock over the last year. The beverage company created the campaign that labeled their cans with unique names such as Rachel or Bobby or generic titles like “Share a Coke with your BFF.” The hashtag campaign not only allowed the brand to generate hundreds of thousands of tweets, but it also included celebrities such as Ryan Seacrest.
In the sports realm, the Running Man Challenge took Spring 2016 by storm. Teams across the country including North Carolina, Villanova, Michigan State, Maryland, Fordham, Wisconsin, Miami, Arizona, Virginia Tech, Michigan and Connecticut showed off their talents over video. With the ’90s hit song, “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJ’s, this dance challenge killed.
Known for a fantastically interactive social media presence, Oreo might have outdone itself for Halloween. The classic cookie brand created a Halloween-inspired campaign in which they utilized Vine to create Oreo-based parodies of classic horror films.
The hashtag is a tool that, when used correctly, can help drive brand awareness and provide users with the ability to search and become a part of the conversation. In addition to their digital habits, millennials will have the most buying power of any generation by 2020 and will become brands’ biggest consumer segment, according to Forbes. With these campaigns, and many more to come, it is exciting to see how hashtags evolve and what they can do for the marketing world with regards to connecting to larger and larger audiences.