Hashtags Are the Future of ‘Supercharged’ Social Media Marketing

Social media networks will come and go, falter or flourish, but the hashtag will remain.

If you can remember back to the infancy of the digital world, to when websites first became a widespread tool for businesses, you might remember that everyone knew the web was the future, but no one was completely certain how to unlock a URL’s full potential.

That uncertainty didn’t last long.

Websites quickly evolved from online billboards into finely tuned, thoroughly analyzed, and constantly measured web portals with full commerce capabilities. Hashtags (i.e. a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic) are still at that infancy stage that websites have now outgrown. But they are already exhibiting the potential to be the new dominant force in digital marketing.


Uniting Social Conversations with Hashtags

Just like websites started as something simple and grew into an essential tool for nearly every business, the hashtag’s potential to unite social conversations, cross digital platforms and make sense of the busy social sphere is already becoming apparent.

There are distinct reasons behind the growing popularity of hashtags. They are the only common link across social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, Vine, and Instagram. They give brands ways to prompt activity from consumers wherever they prefer to spend time, leading to more engagement. And they are not one-dimensional like websites.

Hashtags harness the interactive and viral potential of digital marketing at a level unseen in traditional websites. And they are now crossing over into what was once the stronghold of websites, influencing search engine traffic and gaining real SEO value.

For instance, the roll out of Facebook search and the recent update that includes Google+ hashtag content in Google search queries indicate that information grouped by hashtag will soon play a significant role in SEO, and how people make discoveries across the web.

Unlike full websites, hashtags are easily changed and reinvented for each campaign or marketing strategy. Already, they are being mentioned prominently in television, print and online ads the way URLs once were, tying together advertising and social marketing efforts.

But we are still very much in the initial phases of realizing the hashtag’s potential. The symbol will become even more ubiquitous as both social media users and businesses learn how they can unite conversations, streamline commerce, and make sense of a fractured social media landscape in even more powerful and useful ways.


Brands Successfully Leverage Hashtag Marketing

Hashtags are already the centerpieces of product launches, creating buzz, engaging users and converting a passive social audience into fans, followers and customers. For example, L’Oreal’s Matrix brand recently ran a multi-channel hashtag campaign to promote a product launch, and received more than 37,000 entries.

Additionally, Twitter and American Express recently launched a partnership that will allow Twitter users to actually purchase an item with a Tweet. Additionally, a hashtag allows companies like ours, Offerpop, to create real-time feeds of an audience’s reaction to an event, concert or performance, whether that comes in the form of a Tweet or a Facebook status update or an Instagram photo.

Meanwhile, brands are finding that the hashtag has powerful social merchandising potential, builds strong consumer connections and even feeds user-generated content into other marketing efforts.

We’ve already seen social media networks come and go. Regardless of which networks falter or flourish, the hashtag will remain. And it will grow into the central tool that unites conversations no matter what social networks dominate the future of online interaction.


Kevin Bobowski is vice president of marketing at Offerpop, a world-wide social marketing platform that helps brands engage their audiences everywhere with social marketing campaigns. Learn more at offerpop.com


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