The 3 Core Marketing Strategies for Hashtags


A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic

Hashtags (#) are used to bring social media users who are engaged around a particular topic, category or event together into one connected feed. Hashtags can be used as a means of marketing by contributing to or starting a new hashtag campaign or trend. They are no longer restricted to an individual social network, but spread across several.

Hashtag – Word of the Year 2012, American Dialect Society

blog 6, image 1 Simply Measured, Interbrand

Interbrand found that over 65% of tweets included at least one or more hashtags.


Three Core Marketing Strategies for Hashtags

  1. • Brand your business and marketing campaigns
  2. • Catch real-time trending topics
  3. • Expand the reach of your content updates



Brand Hashtags
A brand hashtag should define your business and be used as the brands unique signature tag. It could be the name of the brand, or a tagline often associated with your business such as #justdoit (Nike).
It is important to choose a hashtag that it is not already associated with another brand or meaning. It should be short and easy to spell, and encourage people to actively use it.


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KitKat #HaveABreak, Instagram
Their consumers consistently use #HaveABreak across several social media platforms to share their photos and engage with the community, whilst Kit Kat acquire lots of authentic images of consumers enjoying their product.


Campaign hashtags
Campaign hashtags allow customers to engage with you and other customers throughout the duration of your special offer. The use of your hashtag could be used as a requirement to enter your contest.


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Home Depot, Instagram
Home Depot ran a photo contest on both Twitter and Instagram of bucket drumming to celebrate the start of college football using #HDgameday.

Another incentive to engage people is to share their photos on the brands main page.
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Trending Hashtags

A trending hashtag is a hashtag topic that has become very popular. They continuously change and have the potential to allow your content to be seen by a massive audience, not just by fans and followers. Note: Spamming trends when they are unrelated to your business can actually get your Twitter account suspended. Twitter and Google+ show trending topics on their pages.
Monitor trends;

  • – for trending, declining and constant trends
  • Statigram – for Instagram trends and finding alternatives hashtags
  • Trendsmap – a visual map of geographic hashtag trends

When a trend relevant to your business makes an appearance, it is the perfect opportunity to make a content update including the trending hashtag.


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Oreo Twitter, 2013

Oreo used the trending hashtag #FashionWeek on Twitter.


Content Hashtags
Content hashtags are common hashtags, and help develop the SEO of your posts. They are not used to define a brand, or branded, or trending. They are simply common hashtags relating to post content. Hashtag categories include location, lifestyle, events or product. They are much more general.


Analyzing Hashtags

There are many online analysis tools that allow you to keep on track of their reach.

Example: Nike

Ritetag, 2016 allows you to analyse previous tweets and their reach.
Hashtagify, 2016 creates a visual graph of the top hashtags relating to a particular topic. It gives you statistics on the popularity and correlation score, and allows you to identify patterns of hashtag use across social media sites.


Hashtagify, 2016

You can click on one of the related hashtags which will then create a visual graph relating to that hashtag, see above.


SEMrush, 2016 The related keyword report, combined with other research and analysis tools, is a brilliant tool to help find alternative tags for an increased reach. This can improve your hashtag and SEO strategy.



Benefits of using Hashtags

  • Used across all social media platforms
  • Appear up to date with current events
  • Appear relevant to social media followers
  • Can increase brand prominence and recognition for campaigns i.e. recent Coca-Cola #shareacoke
  • Allows your audience find your content, and to
  • Used to monitor levels of engagement and reach

Tweets with hashtags showed 12 percent more engagement (RT, favourite or @ reply) than tweets without a hashtag.

blog 6 image 4 Are hashtags #over? Online media, June 2015
Shadi Rahimi, 2015 argues that they have become less effective over time due to misuse and overuse, and that they no longer guarantee engagement. Further, that the etiquette of the hashtag should be considered more importantly.


The Freddie Gray shooting in Baltimote. Could a news organization use #BaltimoreUprising as it is where the people are based, or would that direct some one-sided sympathy?

Hashtags are more than simply categorising posts. They are a valuable tool to gain interest, and require a lot of research and attention to detail. Marketers have developed innovative techniques of using hashtags as a mean to engage conversation, build public support, and bring attention to their brands.

The Impact of Social Media and Networks on Marketing

The idea of the wisdom of crowds… a group on average it will consistently come up with a better answer than any individual could provide.
The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki, 2004

The ‘Social Web’

The importance of social media and networking has revolutionised over time, causing significant implications for how consumers, channels, and companies perform. User-generated content includes social networking, user reviews, blogging, photo and video sharing, etc. The ‘Social Web’ was commercialised by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty at the O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 Conference in late 2004.

Shirky, 2008 described it as a tool to;

increase our ability to share, to co-operate, with one another, and to take collective action, all outside the framework of traditional institutional institutions and organizations.


User Contribution System

Cook, S., 2008 The contribution revolution: Letting volunteers build your business
Users include consumers, potential consumers, and employees. Their contributions can be active or passive. The system processes inputs and converts them into useful outputs in real time with little or no intervention by the company. It creates value for a business as a consequence of the value it delivers to users – information such as new personal or business relationships, personalized purchase recommendations, and connections between buyers and sellers of hard-to-find items.


Feedback such as ratings and reviews are received and processed in a variety of forms, and the forums in which it is provided. In regards to social media settings, consumers provide online product reviews visible to other consumers and agents, channel partners, competitors, and stockholders, which can highly influence potential customers and their decision to purchase goods or services.

The immeasurable characteristics of online social media environments have made it extremely complex for marketers, making managerial practice difficult. This raises a range of concerns for companies, such as managing their reputation, protecting their brand, brand awareness, brand promotion, brand protection and engagement (the conversation).


Key findings

The Journal of Marketing, July 2014

  • Consumer’s ratings

Sridhar and Srinivasan, 2012 found that consumers’ ratings are not only influenced by the quality of their personal experience, but also by other online ratings. This suggests that social influence can act as a double-edged sword, aggravating the negative effect of failure and increasing the benefit of failure recovery.


  • Effects on consumer conversion rates

Ludwig et al.’s findings in 2012 suggest that managers should recognise the most influential reviews in any given product category and promote them, as it would provide a basis on which other reviewers will be stimulated to write powerful reviews, adapting their own style of editorial reviews to the relevant product category.


  • Effects on consumer purchase intentions

Naylor, Lamberton, and West, 2012 found that the demographic characteristics of a brand’s online supporters can have an influence on target consumer’s brand evaluations and purchase intentions. This should be taken into account when deciding whether the identities of their online supporters should be revealed or, to preserve ambiguity and not disclose them.


  • Effects on product sales

Supporting Ludwig et al., 2012; Ho-Dac, Carson, and Moore, 2012 found that online customer reviews do in fact affect sales (Blu-Ray and DVD players). There is a strong correlation between positive / negative online customer reviews and an increase / decrease of sales of weak brands. No effect was found on sales of strong brands.


  • Value of a product in a network

Oestreicher-Singer et al., 2013 found that a virtual online network has been created where products influence one another’s sales, suggesting that companies should not simply focus on revenue alone, but also adopt value-related measures to gain a better understanding when product networks relating to marketing are concerned.


  • Effects on firm value

Chen, Liu, and Zhang, 2012 findings suggest that third-party product reviews build expectations about the potential of a new product’s sale. Companies can build form value through actively using and tracking these to help develop and introduce products.



Meikle and Young, 2012 criticized the revolution of social media for blurring the;

distinction between personal communication and the broadcast model of messages sent to nobody in particular.

Andrew Keen, an internet entrepreneur and journalist, commented in his book The Cult of the Amateur in 2007 on how social media has destroyed professionalism. Stating further, that the quality of journalism has been reduced due to blogging and free listing sites.



To conclude, using online social media as a means of marketing does not only impact the development of markets and firms, but it can also be used to change the dynamics of them. The effects and implications resulting from this recent stream of research are valuable to senior marketing executives tasked with the management and leveraging of their firms’ social media programs.

See more at:

Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) – How can we can break it down?

“If you have an unhappy customer on the Internet, he doesn’t tell his 6 friends, he tells his 6,000 friends”

Jeff Bezos, President of

Marketers can spend millions of pounds on marketing campaigns, yet a simple and cost- free recommendation from a trusted source can be the consumer’s final decision maker. WOM can prompt a consumer to consider a brand or product in a way that incremental advertising spending simply cannot. WOM makes up for 20-50% of all purchasing decisions, especially when consumers are purchasing a product for the first time or when they are fairly costly. The balance of power between companies and consumers has dramatically altered as consumers have become overloaded and increasingly sceptical about traditional company-driven advertising and marketing. Measuring and managing WOM is far from simple. However, it can be broken down to understand it more.


Online WOM Definition


Using consumer communication as a means of multiplying a brand’s popularity through customers spreading the brand name of a product or name of a company

Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004

The rise of online communities and communication have revolutionised its influence to a point where WOM is not simply a one to one communication, but available to a much wider audience. The right messages can resonate and expand within interested networks, affecting brand perceptions, purchase rates, and market share.

Any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual, or former customers about a product or company, which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions
Stauss, 2000

It has enabled consumers to voice their opinions and personal experiences in writing or videos, accessible at any time from the comfort of the consumer’s own home.
eWOM Channels


Companies can shape their eWOM management strategies more effectively by using appropriate channels to focus their efforts on based on consumer’s preferences.

  • Consumer channels include; social media, product reviews, blogs, forums, message boards etc.
  • Seller channels include; social media, websites, comparison websites, embedded social media etc.

The primary channel for sellers is their website, where they have clear control of the content including embedded social media as a way of increasing consumer interaction.


eWOM Motivation – Why do we post what we do?

Consumers are likely to select eWOM channels that support their motives.

Kreis, Henning; Gottschalk, Sabrina A. October 2015

eWOM motivators are factors that motivate consumers to actively voice their opinions. Factors include; economic incentives, self-enhancement, social benefits, self-promotion, concern for others etc. Concern for others can be broken down into people advising others not to make a bad decision on purchasing a certain product if they had a bad experience with it.

Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004 produced one of the leading Articles on What motivates consumers to articulate themselves?, see page 41 for example below.

McWilliam, 2000 found identification and social integration to be the most important factors. People feel rewarded when they interact with groups where their opinion matters. Take the recent terrorist attack in Paris, France for example, where people changed their profile picture on Facebook to the French flag to support France – people want to be part of something socially, and be seen to be doing something positive or good.

Studies going back to the 1950s have shown that WOM has become more effective than traditional online marketing.

Bickart and Schindler, 2001 found that consumers feel that the person making the recommendation can relate to themselves; the author is a fellow consumer. And so, the author has more relevance, empathy and higher credibility than marketers do.

The factors consumers consider when searching for product information are;

  • Trustworthiness; Senecal and Nantel, 2004 found that consumers are less critical of the information source and did not differentiate much between online experts and recommendations when choosing what digital camera to buy. It could be argued that people have become more sophisticated in using online sources since 2004.
  • Expertise; as above. Hovland, Janis, & Kelly, 1953 held it was the “level of validity perceived by the recipient”.
  • Attractiveness; Bickart and Schindler, 2001 found that this is based on the fellow consumer. See social commerce, for example the amount of Facebook likes.



The effects of blogger recommendations on customers’ online shopping intentions.


Hsu, C. L., Lin, J. C. C., & Chiang, H. S. (2013)



What Makes Online Content Viral

Berger and Milkman, 2012

Initiating a buzz or trend that captures a new product or brand can potentially go viral through creating the most engaging and impacting statements and posts.

“Viral marketing is a strategy by which a marketer creates a campaign focused around the goal of causing viewers of that promotion to spontaneously spread it by sending it to friends.”

Zarrella, D. (2014) The Social Media Scientist

Hopefully, this has given you a brief overview of the different ways that eWOM can be broken down and looked at in more detail.

Paid Search Marketing – What is it? How can it benefit my business?

What is SEM?

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is the process of purchasing ads on search engines to gain website traffic. The most common terms referring to SEM activities include paid search advertising, PPC (pay-per-click), CPC (cost-per-click), CPM (cost-per-impression).

Pay-per-click (PPC), also referred to as cost-per-click (CPC), is an online marketing model used to direct traffic to websites whereby an advertiser pays the search engine an arranged price for every time an individual clicks on their ad i.e. cost per click. It is essentially a form of buying visits to your site.

The focus of this blog will be specifically on Google AdWords.


Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is the leading PPC advertising system worldwide. The AdWords platform allows businesses to create ads that appear on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). The success of AdWord advertisers is based on their Ad Rank: this is calculated by multiplying the advertisers CPC Bid (the amount the advertiser is willing to pay) by their Quality Score (calculated by an advertisers relevance, landing page quality and click-through rate). It is effectively an auction that allows advertisers to reach potential customers at a cost appropriate to their budget.

  • An example – chocolate fountain

The SERP displays the paid for search results in the vanilla box at the top of the results. Amazon appears as the first search result as they have paid the most for the search term. The companies below will have paid less for the same term.


Building a successful PPC campaign

This blog below shows examples of successful AdWords ads. Logo Design Guarantee’s ad is simple and straightforward, using numbers and ASCII characters to break up blocks of words, making it easier to read. It also includes an offer, a benefit and a call to action.
The most successful advertisers continually update and refine their page:

  • Keyword Relevance
    Conducting thorough keyword research is crucial however time-consuming it may be. The success directly depends on these, including proper ad text, close keyword groups, and updating keyword lists that are relevant, comprehensive and expansive.
  • Landing Page Quality
    Creating enhanced landing pages with convincing, appropriate content and a strong call-to-action targeting particular search queries.
  • Quality Score
    As defined above, advertisers with better Quality Scores get more ad clicks at lower costs. See


What are the benefits with using Google AdWords?

Using AdWords as a marketing system is particularly valuable as Google is the leading search engine and so acquires enormous amounts of traffic, naturally providing the most impressions and clicks to ads. It allows the advertiser to appear at the top of the SERPs.
Google AdWords has a page that explains how it works, the benefits and costs. It is so advanced that that a recent update in February with Enchanced Campaigns allows adverts to target users based on their location, the time of day and the device they are using.
Google AdWords provides free online training including videos, see link.
They can be set up within an hour for those familiar with the platform, and will appear immediately in the sponsored results. Every ad and keyword can be tracked, allowing the investment and success rate to be measured at any time, minimising the gambling element. Although it requires an investment, money will only be charged if it actually works. Profits from visits can outweigh the cost of the click i.e. a £2 click could result in a £200 sale. Search engines charge less for advertisers who successfully create relevant targeted campaigns.


What are the drawbacks with using Google AdWords?

40% of users are unaware that Google Adwords are paid adverts, resulting in users unintentionally ignoring organic search results. In order to stand a chance of gaining any click-through traffic, they have become a necessity of a company’s marketing strategy.
Smaller business may have a limited marketing budget, and so cannot afford them. Risks can be minimised. Building a strong negative keyword list can reduce non-revenue generating clicks and click fraud. There is plenty of support online, such as this guide covering issues like budgeting (March 2016).
Bing and Yahoo do offer similar services at a lower cost. Long-tail keywords are also often underestimated. Albeit less common, they are more precise and account for the majority of search-driven traffic. They are cheaper as they are less competitive.

To think about..

  1. Is this just done with trial and error, with companies raising their maximum bids incrementally than checking the SERP to see how they’re doing?
  2. How prevalent is click-fraud?
  3. What if a competitor clicks through on your link to raise your costs?