Struggling to get traction and brand your business on Twitter? A solid hashtag campaign might just be what the doctor ordered to get you on track.
Just in case you don’t already know, hashtags are a HUGE deal on Twitter. You can expand your reach, find new connections, monitor your target market and more, all with hashtags.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the best hashtag campaigns in the history of Twitter and how you can apply similar techniques for your business. Then we’ll examine some of the blunders you need to avoid when it comes to hashtag marketing.
Ready? Lets’ get to it…
The Good Twitter Hashtag Campaigns
Here are four examples of hashtag campaigns done right by brands.
#ShareaCoke by Coca-Cola
This is one of the most successful social media marketing campaigns in recent memory. To label their products in a unique way, Coca-Cola created the #ShareaCoke campaign. It also launched a dedicated website where people can buy customized bottles of Coke.
The campaign took off, especially spreading like wildfire on Twitter. The idea of sharing a Coke with a customized label was a hit.
The campaign became so successful that Coca-Cola even organized its different sub-campaigns, like share a coke with mom and a share a coke with Ryan Seacrest contest.
Coca-Cola also became the first company to have their custom emoji on Twitter. While these custom emoji’s come with a hefty price tag (for now), the fact that big companies like Pepsi and Budweiser shelled out seven figures for them during SuperBowl campaigns speaks volumes about the power of branded hashtags on Twitter.
Integrate your offline marketing campaign with social media. Create a hashtag that effectively delivers your brand message. And if your campaign is doing well, collaborate with influencers to take it to the next level.
#PutACanOnIt by Red Bull
Another awesome Twitter hashtag campaign is #PutACanOnIt from Red Bull. It started when Red Bull shared a photograph of someone holding a can above a Mini Cooper, making it look like one of their branded vehicles.
The trend exploded on Twitter with users all over the world posting similar pictures.
Though it started on Twitter, the campaign gradually crossed to other popular channels like Tumblr and Instagram. Red Bull even came up with a selection of some of the best pictures and featured them here.
Be active on social media and interact with your audience. Share their content and encourage your audience to follow your lead. Encouraging user generated content is an awesome way to spread your hashtag campaign.
Just make sure to create an engaging and simple hashtag (like #PutACanOnIt) that’s easily understood by your audience – even when you are merging 4-5 words together.
#TweetFromTheSeat by Charmin
When you have a product as boring as toilet paper, creating an engaging hashtag campaign is tough going. That is, unless you’re Charmin’s brand manager.
In a genius move, Charmin made bathroom breaks fun with their #TweetFromTheSeat campaign. The brand asked its customers to tweet as they…well, you know.
Charmin did an awesome job of setting the tone for the campaign with their own tweets, like this one:
Well, it caught on in a big way. People shared their humorous stories too and gave Charmin plenty of publicity.
Years later, people are still tweeting from the seat. Well done, Charmin.
The “my product is too boring” excuse just doesn’t fly. Charmin showed us you can always think out of the box and come up with a relevant campaign. A little satire and humor can even help you become the next viral story.
#OreoHorrorStories by Oreo
Oreo rocks social media marketing and they have created several killer hashtag campaigns over the last few years.
My favorite is #OreoHorrorStories. They introduced the hashtag during Halloween and created Oreo-themed parody clips of famous horror movies. It created quite a buzz and Oreo soon became a Twitter favorite.
Recently, the brand is again making the headlines for its #OREODunkSweepstakes campaign.
Create an engaging campaign around an ongoing (or upcoming) event. Create a fun hashtag that ties in your brand with upcoming holidays and events.
The Bad Twitter Hashtag Campaigns
Now that we’ve examined some notable examples you can learn from, we’ll look at some of the not-so-successful hashtag marketing campaigns. It’s always best to learn your lesson from someone else’s mistakes when possible.
#McDStories from McDonald’s
McDonald’s had good intentions when they came up with their hashtag campaign for #McDStories. In this case, the hashtag was part of a promoted campaign. Within a few hours, people were jumping on the hashtag to share their #McDStories and things quickly took a sideways turn for McDonald’s.
People were quick to take the opportunity to share their negative sentiment for Mickey D’s. McDonald’s quickly deleted the promoted tweets and the damage was relatively contained. Still, it had the potential to be a PR nightmare.
I won’t publish the reactions here (fair warning, some are pretty gross) but the Daily Mail compiled some of the best of the worst tweets. You can see them here if you dare.
Hopefully, there’s not as much negative sentiment surrounding your brand as there (apparently) is for McDonald’s. But if there’s even a chance, be careful with campaigns that lend themselves to being used the wrong way. It might just backfire on you in a big way.
#Susanalbumparty by Susan Boyle’s PR team
This is, without a doubt, one of the most #epicfail hashtag campaigns of all time. To promote Susan’s new album, her PR team came up with a hashtag #SusanAlbumParty. Looks okay, right?
Well, check it out in all lowercase: #susanalbumparty. I’m guessing you can see how some people read it differently.
Even though the PR team realized their mistake – before they could rectify it, the damage was already done.
In only an hour, the hashtag was trending worldwide, causing plenty of embarrassment to the singer.
In fact, nearly five years later, the hashtag is still active. Search it on Twitter and you’ll still find mentions today!
Always consider alternate interpretations of a hashtag. Before coming up with a hashtag, try to read it out loud and get a new pair of eyes to review it. Ask for recommendations and make sure that your hashtag is relevant, smart, and appropriate.
The Ugly Hashtag Marketing Examples
While jumping on a trending hashtag isn’t exactly a “campaign,” it is an effective way to market your business – well, most of the time.
Check out these two examples of when jumping on a trending hashtag went horribly, horribly wrong.
#notguilty by Entenmann’s
Entenmann’s famously made a classic hashtag blunder when someone on the team decided to jump on the trending #notguilty hashtag. Unfortunately for them, no one bothered to check the context of WHY the hashtag was trending.
Turns out, it was in response to the not guilty verdict of Casey Anthony, a Florida woman accused of killing her two-year old daughter. Oops.
The tweet was (understandably) criticized. Entenmanns removed the tweet and apologized, but the damage was quickly done.
Before you use a trending hashtag, take two seconds to click on it and read what people are already tweeting. Even playful sounding hashtags are sometimes connected with extremely sensitive topics. Steer clear of those.
#Cairo by Kenneth Cole
This is surely one of the most appalling marketing tweets ever to (dis)grace Twitter feeds. During an uprising where Egyptian citizens violently rebelled against Hosni Mubarak and government policies, Kenneth Cole inexplicably decided to hawk their wares using the #Cairo hashtag.
Adding a little satire to your content works, but seriously Kenneth Cole?
Unlike the Entenmann’s example, which I’ll chalk up to laziness more than malice, there’s no excuse for this tweet from KC. I’m hoping (guessing) someone was headed to the unemployment line shortly after that was tweeted.
And, OF COURSE, tweeps everywhere were hardly shy about tweeting back their disdain.
I’m keeping the “lesson” format for the consistency of the post, but I don’t think I need to spell this one out.
That said, you can see how this gave rise to a different, more appropriate hashtag campaign: #BoycottKennethCole.
So there you have it, the good, the bad, and the ugly of hashtag marketing campaigns.
Whether your a big brand, small business, or solopreneur, I hope you took some lessons away from these examples and spark some ideas for a hashtag campaigns of your own.
If you’re starting a new campaign, or have had success in the past, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!