What are Branded Hashtags?
Branded hashtags are hashtags that are brand specific that help people following a conversation thread to know what someone is talking about in shorthand notation. Brands tend to use their company name or tagline to market their brands promotions to ensure they are easily identifiable. They can be used effectively for tracking an influencer campaign or social campaign. The creation and launch of a successful hashtag could boost the conversation and significantly increase engagement. Branded hashtags are not a way to go viral and overloading on branded hashtags can diminish the amount of engagement a post receives.
Why Were They Created?
Hashtags started in August of 2007 when they were initially proposed by a Twitter user to act as a tagging structure. This tagging structure was a way to help fellow users identify conversations threads to figure out what they were talking about without having to explain in detail what they were doing which proved to be especially helpful considering Twitters 140 character limit. Hashtags were also a way for people to quickly say they were at a location or event so they could produce some commentary on the subject without having to delve into where they were. This was also helpful for people that were following a specific topic thread because it allowed them to simply search the hashtag to see related conversations. People then began using hashtags ironically, like #sorrynotsorry and then as the amount of social media users grew, they began using them unironically and incorrectly like parents who would post #mykidsareawesome. Although hashtags are now viewed as a genius way to increase conversation and engagements on posts, Evan Williams, the Co-founder of Twitter, initially viewed it as too nerdy and thought it would never catch on. The popularity of hashtags steadily rose, but it took years before you could click on a hashtag to follow the story and view other peoples tweets who were talking about the related conversation.
Overuse of Branded Hashtags
There is a pretty fine line between what users view as engaging versus what is viewed as unnecessary spam. Twitter research shows that Tweet's with one or two hashtags get about 21% more engagement than other Tweets, but Tweets with three or more hashtags actually get 17% less engagement. So if you're polluting your feed, you're likely hurting your ability to spread that message. We have found in our own research that hashtags on Facebook do not measurably increase the exposure of the message on Facebook. On Instagram they do, but they should be limited to between five and nine hashtags in total. The most important thing before using a hashtag is asking yourself why am I using this hashtag? If you have a good reason to use it then use it, if you don't, let it go. They can be used effectively for tracking an influencer campaign or other social campaigns, but let's remember you only need one to do that.