The use of social media has led to the creation of online communities which seek to share stories and experiences with the hopes of yielding effective results. The #OJewaKeEng (“What is bothering you”) hashtag coined by Twitter user Keabetswe has generated over 7 900 retweets over the last three months – and has led to the creation of a foundation which seeks to share authentic stories told by South Africans and how the individuals have overcome their struggles. Twitter’s most prominent feature, the hashtag, is a metadata tag which makes messages, ideas or themes easier to track by social media users. This tool can also be used by brands in their digital marketing strategies, and can also lead to similar outcomes if used correctly.
Through the #OJewaKeEng hashtag, users who have shared their unemployment experiences have found jobs, mothers who have pleaded for second-hand clothing have gotten that in addition to food and money, and students who were burdened with tuition debt have had strangers pay them off. This trend has proven that social media can be beneficial to society – and even more, if brands join in on the phenomenon.
According to social media expert Mary Long*, hashtags earn twice as much engagement as posts without – and it is against this background that our community managers at ATKASA use hashtags when posting content to increase engagement and make brands easy to find.
The benefits of hashtags are numerous. From boosting your campaigns, promoting User Generated Content to building brand awareness, we have found that it is in the best interest of brands who seek to build their credibility to refrain from using more than four hashtags per post. The overuse of this tool can lead to unwieldy posts.
Brands such as Castle Lager* used the hashtag #SmashTheLabel to promote their latest advert which was directed by the renowned Kim Geldenhuys. The campaign seeks to confront the societal labels many South Africans have been stereotyped with – ‘Dutchman’ referring to Afrikaans males and ‘Stabane” referring to gay men. Through the hashtag, users on Twitter have come forward to express their support for the campaign. This is a great example of how User-generated Content can be used by a brand.
It is worth mentioning the similarity of the #SmashTheLabel and #OJewaKeEng hashtags – they both attempt to confront societal issues faced by South Africans. Customers are looking to support brands which tackle issues within our societal lexicon – it must be noted that more personal hashtags have a longer life span than that of common and humorous ones. Perhaps it is worth asking yourself, which cause can your brand get behind? We’re not nullifying the common hashtags associated with your brand, but we do suggest looking at our Hello Customer Meet Brand article to get a better idea of what we mean by this and how using customer-centric hashtags can help foster positive perceptions.
Alongside Twitter, LinkedIn has become popular in this regard. Searching for hashtags on these platforms can lead to job opportunities and articles written on the professional platform. This creates leads to company profiles and website. Looking at our LinkedIn profile for example, we share all our articles on the platform with the intention of directing our followers to our website where they can read the rest of the articles.
In conclusion – yes, hashtags are worth it. They lead to increased engagement and customer retention. At ATKASA, we strive to offer our clients cost-effective, measurable outcomes which results in qualified lead generation and increased brand awareness. Our assortment of clients is testimony to our recipe for success– we become the heartbeat of your brand.