Do you want to create a hashtag campaign that generates awareness, traffic, and leads? With 1 billion users and 500 million active daily users on Instagram, the platform boasts one of the highest user counts of any social media site.
And because Instagram is notorious for a high amount of user engagement with brands too, that makes the platform even more of a great candidate to promote your brand or organization.
However, with over 50 billion posts live on the platform, there's also a huge amount of competition.
One of the best ways to stand out is with a strategic hashtag campaign that drivuser generated content es attention and engagement both on Instagram and on other digital channels as well.
In this article, we're going to show you the different types of hashtag campaigns, present examples, and detail the steps you should take to create your own successful campaign.
What is a hashtag campaign?
A hashtag campaign is a marketing campaign that uses a hashtag to increase reach and participation. Brands can use the hashtag in posts related to the campaign and invite their followers to use the hashtag as well.
While hashtags are used on Twitter as well, Instagram is widely regarded as the best platform for running a social media campaign because of the...
- High numbers of users in many demographics and ages (while Twitter is mostly used by professionals)
- High amount of engagement with brands
- High utilization of hashtags by brands and users
Types of hashtag campaigns (with examples!)
Now let's take a look at the different kinds of hashtag campaigns. While most brands will use branded hashtags, meaning hashtags that the brand made up and are unique to the brand, it is possible to also use something that other brands use in order to gain more traction, such as #giveaway.
Here are examples of the main types of campaigns:
User generated content curation
The most common type of hashtag campaign exists to curate user generated content (UGC).
UGC is content that users have created, not the brand. For example, Dover Saddlery uses the hashtag #itsfromdover to encourage customers to upload images of their horseback riding products being users.
The value of this sort of content cannot be overstated, especially for a brand like Dover Saddlery, whose customers often take very high quality photos of their horses and horseback riding competitions.
To create all of this beautiful content themselves would require an enormous budget!
Dover Saddlery's customers create tons of content for them and they're happy to do it, because they're passionate about the products and their horses.
The company smartly uses Curator.io to embed their Instagram photos using the hashtag on their website.
This makes their website more appealing and engaging while also letting customers know about the campaign and how to participate.
Do you want to embed UGC from your hashtag campaign in your site for free? Try Curator.io.
Contests and giveaways
Another super popular type of campaign for utilizing the full power of hashtags is a giveaway campaign.
For most campaigns, you'll want a branded campaign that's unique to your company, but for a giveaway, you'll have better success using things like #giveaway, #giveawaycontest, and #freegiveaway.
Because consumers regularly search these hashtags to enter to win free stuff. When they're scrolling through the search results for this hashtag, they'll stop on your image if they like the products they see. Don't worry about the wrong audience type entering your giveaway. There are so many giveaways that consumers are likely to spend their time entering ones for products they want for themselves or close family members.
Here's an example from FabFitFun, a subscription box.
To enter, you have to follow the accounts whose products are part of that month's box.
The famous egg account (@world_record_egg) used its enormous popularity for good. Using funny memes and animated videos, the egg often spreads positivity and mental health awareness.
But the account took it even a step further by partnering up with Mental Health America for a joint PSA about the pressures and mental health challenges of social media.
The egg account used this post to announce that after the 2020 Superbowl, the 30-second PSA would be available to view exclusively on Hulu.
Foregoing a custom hashtag for this campaign, the account used their most popular hashtag, which is #egggang, to make sure that the maximum amount of their audience would see the PSA promotion.
This hashtag is so popular in fact, that it was used when this account beat out Kylie Jenner for the top liked post on Instagram.
Promoting body positivity and self confidence, Celeste Barber is a hilarious influencer who posts images and videos of herself attempting the same poses as models and trim fitness, wellness, and yoga influencers.
In each of her images and videos, she uses the hashtag #celestechallengeaccepted so her loyal fans can easily find more of her hilarious content.
Her fans also use this hashtag to...
- Comment on an image that they want her to recreate
- Post similar images of themselves attempting sexy poses
The result is a growing community of both men and women making light of the need for body positivity and self acceptance on social media.
The benefits of launching your own hashtag campaign
Depending on which type of campaign you choose to run, you might be able to experience all or some of these benefits:
- Increased follower numbers
- Higher engagement with content that is part of the campaign
- Increased brand awareness through users sharing content on their feed and/or tagging friends
- Increased brand awareness through press coverage of the campaign
You can also combine influencer marketing with your hashtag campaign to increase its reach with your ideal audience. This is recommended to get the most out of the campaign.
How to execute on a hashtag campaign in 5 steps
Want to do this for your business or organization? It's time to break hashtag campaigns down into 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Set campaign goals
The first you need to do is set goals for the campaign.
Make sure not to skip ahead. Otherwise, you'll risk internal confusion and misalignment with your team, and the entire campaign will be much harder to execute on.
These are the specific goals you need to set:
- What you want to achieve with this campaign - Set a SMART goal, one that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time based. An example goal would be 500 new followers. Or at least 30 UGC posts per month that you can choose from to curate on your own feed.
- The desired level of audience engagement - Secondly, you need to know the desired level of audience engagement. What do you hope followers and users will do? Do you just want them to search your hashtag to find similar content, or do you want them to take some form of action?
Step 2: Choose your hashtag
After you've set your goals, it will be much easier to choose the right hashtag. As mentioned, you'll likely want to create a branded hashtag unless you're doing a giveaway, in which case you can the popular giveaway hashtags listed above.
To make a branded hashtag, keep it simple. The #itsfromdover hashtag is great because users can share the products that are from that brand. The #celestechallengeaccepted is a more creative example, but again, it expertly summarizes what the hashtag campaign is all about.
Think in simple terms and basic words. Brainstorm options and survey your team to pick the right now.
Step 3: Get partners involved
Next, you'll want to consider bringing in partners to make the hashtag campaign even more successful.
There are different ways to do this. You can partner up with another brand for a giveaway.
Or, you can incentive Instagram influencers to use your hashtag to give the campaign an initial boost when you launch it. An incentive could be a direct payment or free products.
Step 4: Publish quality content
Next, you'll want to publish quality content that matches your campaign. For a UGC campaign, post the sort of content you hope users will create. Photograph your employees, friends, and family to kick things off.
For a giveway campaign, post eye-catching images of your products that are sure to be scroll-stoppers.
Step 5: Promote your campaign
The final step is to promote your campaign beyond bringing on partners and posting your own content.
You need to do more to get your campaign outside of Instagram, so that more people know about it and can take part.
There are two simple ways you can do this.
Embed the campaign on your website.
Use Curator.io to embed the hashtag campaign on your website. You can embed it on...
- Your home page
- A separate dedicated page
- A blog post announcement about the campaign
- Your side bar
Remember that Dover Saddlery example? There's a very good chance they wouldn't have nearly the amount of UGC submissions they do if they didn't promote the campaign directly on their site.
Curator.io has free and affordable plans that meet the needs of companies of all sizes.
Pitch the story to the press.
The second thing you should do is pitch the story to the press. Don't worry about making it on the news! We're talking digital PR...relevant blogs, micro industry news sites, influencer blogs, etc.
Content creators are hungry for stories. Send a simple email sharing what your campaign is all about so you can get it featured.
Creating a hashtag campaign might seem like a lot of work, but because they generate more buzz, awareness, and traffic than just posting images alone, it's totally worth it.