Branded hashtags are a powerful way to connect your messages together over time. While industry, geographic and trending hashtags are meant to increase the reach of your message, branded hashtags are designed to connect themes for you and your audience. For example, Sanford Health has defined #SanfordChildrens as the hashtag for posts about children's health or services. As a result, anytime someone finds that hashtag, they can quickly access all the content anyone has posted using that hashtag.
Branded hashtags can be used to promote a campaign, aggregate content on a website or give people a better picture of your brand. Here's how to get started identifying branded hashtags:
Identify initiatives, sub-brands, campaigns, and culture.
Make a list of major initiatives in your organization. List any sub-brands that could benefit from content being connected together. Note any campaigns you have planned. Consider how you want to reflect the culture of your organization or demonstrate your core values.
Determine which themes become hashtags.
Review the list you've brainstormed. For each theme, ask yourself:
Do we have readily available content for this theme? If not, how hard would it be to gather content?
Which themes are most important to me? (I recommend starting with a list of no more than 4-5 branded hashtags.)
Brainstorm potential hashtags.
Begin to brainstorm multiple hashtag options for each theme. Keep these things in mind:
Intercapitalize as needed to make it easier to read. (For example, #teamonsharp vs. #TeamOnsharp.)
Look for the possibility for misinterpretation. Especially if it's more than one word, look carefully to ensure that those words don't create a new word with different meeting. Review it with both capital letters for each word and without, to be sure you don't see something different. (For example, think about some hashtag fails you've seen that have made this mistake, such as when #NowThatchersDead vs. #NowThatChersDead blew up on social media.)
Keep your character limits in mind. While there is no hard and fast rule, I would begin to consider other options if what you're considering is more than 10-15 characters. Those characters are precious, especially on Twitter.
Research your top candidates for branded hashtags.
Next, research your hashtags on Tagboard, which gives you results across multiple social media channels. Or, research directly on Twitter. Just type your hashtags and keywords into the search bar on either site and look over the results. For each hashtag, think about the following questions:
Is the hashtag already being used?
If so, is it appropriate content to be connected to?
How recently or frequently has it been used?
If I don't want to connect with others, how can I make it unique?
Remember, consistency is key.
While letter case doesn't matter, every character of a hashtag matters. If you spell something even a tiny bit differently, you're using two different hashtags. That's why it's important to document your hashtag strategy and use the same set over and over again.