Hashtags have been around for some time now, and you’ve probably used them a few times to hook up to the thought of the moment or find content related to a certain topic.

According to a recent study by RadiumOne over 70% of users on social media sites use hashtags in their posts. More and more companies are using hashtags to unify their promotions across social media, increase the discoverability of their content and stimulate user engagement.

websites which support hashtags

Here are six businesses and events that have used hashtags to join popular streams of conversation that were relevant to their goals, which helped them expand their social reach and acquire new followers.

The following campaigns were hits for generating conversation, engaging users and increasing brand awareness. Let’s see why they worked so well:

Photo Credit: Ken Varnum (Flickr)

How Hashtags Have Helped Increase Followers

1. Brisk Iced Tea: #briskpic

In celebration of the South by Southwest events, Pepsico’s Brisk Ice Tea created an Instagram campaign where users were encouraged to tag their photos with the hashtag #briskpic for a chance to have their photo featured on one of the 4,000 limited edition Brisk Ice Tea cans.

This campaign was successful because of its fundamental approach: people simply needed to take a picture and get the chance to win the next signature can. Minimal involvement and great value for their customers.

If you’re planning your next Instagram campaign, make sure to check this list of the top 100 hashtags on Instagram.

2. HubSpot: #INBOUND13

Every conference, especially in the digital world, has its own hashtag. This enables all participants to stay in touch, join in the conversation (including virtual attendees) and have all comments gathered in one thread.

inbound13

The hashtag #INBOUND13 was a great way for HubSpot to engage their audience and keep people connected during the largest marketing conference in the world. #INBOUND13 began to spread like fire, on the HubSpot blog, to Twitter and Facebook pages, creating a loyal following and a lot of interaction and excitement.

The more users become involved, the more likely they are to attend an event, or convince others to join, watch live, or view afterwards. This is also true with events like the #grammys, #nbafinals and many other trending hashtags, which can be found on Twubs.

3. Huffington Post: #HeadlineHelp

In 2009, Arianna Huffington revealed the HuffPo’s new experiment of involving readers in the editorial process. They used the #headlinehelp hashtag to crowdsource better headlines via Twitter.

 Using #headlinehelp, readers can click on a link to an article and then try to write a better headline for that particular story. Through their input, the best headline will go to the editors.

Check out Topsy.com to analyse and track hashtags through links, tweets, photos, videos and influencers. Hashtags.org also provides some hashtag tracking, although for more in-depth analytics you’ll need to be a paid member.

4. Nike: #MakeItCount

Nike used a cross-channel strategy for its 2012 #makeitcount campaign to promote the release of the Fuel Band. They’ve asked users to share photos and statements about how they intend to make 2012 count and share them across Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

The campaign was so successful that Nike also promoted the hashtag through print and TV ads and in-store retails displays to further expand their reach.

5. GivingTuesday: #GivingTuesday

The idea behind this campaign belongs to 92nd Street Y, a nonprofit cultural organization. Their goal is to mobilize users across social media to participate in the daylong national fundraising event coming up in December 3.

Users and nonprofits are encouraged to use the hashtag #givingtuesday to get involved, spread the message to the press and volunteers and streamline the donation process for the day.

Last year’s campaign raised well over $10 million in online donations and won the support of more than 50 million people and reputable partners, such as the United Nations Foundation.

6. AdviserEdge: #AdviserEdge

The inaugural social media advice summit which featured a number of financial service professionals kicked off in February this year (Gold Coast, Australia). While some of the attendees were aware of social media, not many had accounts let alone using them to engage with their clients, a little anti-social…but this would change. 

adviseredge hashtag

Over the course of the 3 day event, a number of break out sessions saw many register themselves on Twitter and launching their first tweet. Naturally, the #adviseredge followed many of these tweets which not only created a buzz amongst the financial services community, but was trending in Queensland! 

As you can see, hashtags are much more than a collection of letters and symbols. They can be powerful tools to reach new audiences, bring together like-minded individuals and create trending streams of conversation. 

Chirpify CEO, Chris Teso, believes hashtags are the new URL so you can only imagine the tremendous benefits you can reap by adding them to your marketing mix. Hashtags can help your campaign to go viral and take a life of its own, beyond your current user base.

Make sure to use hashtags that are either fun, engaging, or helpful. And most important, memorable. Doing things right will not only increase your brand awareness, but quite possibly flow on to your bottom line too.