Hashtags in Advertising and Marketing

This post was initially published on BostInno on March 21, 2012. To read the original post there, click here

Advertising and marketing pros know how important it is to engage their constituents and entice them to take action. One way or another, it’s up to them to convince those on the receiving end of their messages to pick up the phone, mail in an order form, cut out a coupon, click on a link, visit a website, download an offer, attend an event or respond in some other way, shape or form…

such as saying something on Twitter about their products and services.

That’s right. Many brands are now going out of their way to get people to talk about them in 140 characters or less. And one way they’re doing this is by including hashtags in their advertising and marketing campaigns.

In case you’re unfamiliar with hashtags, they’re specific words or phrases preceded by the hash sign (#) that are used to categorize certain tweets so they’ll be more easily identified and likely to show up in search.

It’s nothing new for individuals on Twitter to use hashtags in a variety of ways — to accentuate keywords, topics and even random phrases — to call attention to their tweets.

However, to take advantage of the emergence of the second screen (that is, the use of a smartphone, laptop or other device to talk on Twitter, Facebook and the like about what’s being watched on TV), hashtags are now being associated with such popular shows as Glee (#Glee), 60 Minutes (#60Minutes), Modern Family (#ModernFamily) and Conan (#TeamCoco), among others.

Hashtags have also been used to track the conversation about such major sporting and entertainment events as the Super Bowl (#SuperBowl), the Daytona 500 (#Daytona500), the Grammy Awards (#Grammys) and the Academy Awards (#Oscars).

And finally, hashtags have begun to play a supporting role in TV spots. Audi (#ProgressIs), J.C. Penny (#jcpEllen) and Best Buy (#betterway) are just three big brands that have used them in their creative efforts recently.

But the example of hashtag advertising and marketing that I like best so far is a campaign executed by Dr. Pepper. In a spot I saw for the first time while watching the New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens football game on TV on January 22, 2012, the hashtag, #ImA, was used to spread the word that Dr. Pepper is — like each of its fans — “Always One of a Kind.” A fun commercial, it’s like one big flash mob in which everyone involved is proud to be wearing t-shirts that proclaim who they are as individuals (e.g, “I’m a Dreamer,” “I’m a Fighter,” etc.), a perfect play on the brand’s longtime slogan, “I’m a Pepper.” Coming up with a hashtag that tied so nicely into the ad’s message was a stroke of genius that only served to broaden the brand’s reach across Twitter.

Like who knows how many others, I tweeted about it…

In case you haven’t seen this commercial yet, take a look…

What do you think of the Dr. Pepper “Always One of a Kind” spot? Have you seen any other advertising and marketing efforts that have incorporated the use of hashtags? Have you used hashtags in any of your own campaigns? If you have any thoughts, questions or feedback regarding this new trend, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Related Reading

Audi Super Bowl Ad Claims First Use of Twitter Hashtag (Mashable)
Twitter Hashtags — Understand Their Value and How to Use Them (About.com)
Twitter 101: Why Use Hashtags? (Mediabistro’s AllTwitter)
How to Use Twitter Hashtags (Sprout Insights)
Using #Hashtags (The Brand Builder Company)
How to NOT use hashtags on Twitter (And how to use them better) (J. T. Dabbagian)
Social media is mainstream media (The HB Blog)
There’s a #Hashtag for That (Struck)


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