Posts Tagged ‘Hashtag’

The Real Function of Hashtags

October 31, 2016

robin-rectenwald

How many of us trendy marketers have used hashtags to promote our brand or used hashtags just to use funny or popular phrases such as #sorrynotsorry, #nofilter, or #yolo?

In reality, how many of these hashtags did you actually follow or look up after using them? If you’re like me, then probably never. If you’re like me, you probably used the hashtag to be trendy and funny, like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the real purpose for hashtags. Hashtags are meant to categorize messages so people interested in that topic can follow it. After attending my first major communications conference this weekend, I now realize the real function of hashtags and how powerful they can be.

I had a very lucky opportunity to go to the 2016 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference held in Indianapolis. Like any other event I’ve been to, there were signs posted everywhere and reminders in the program to use the hashtag #PRSAICON. Normally my gut reaction of seeing these hashtags at events are, “Ya, okay, maybe.” To me, I always thought that this was just a branding technique for the company to raise awareness about them. I never thought of it as a genuine call to action that could benefit me.

However, after hearing from some of the most brilliant speakers and communications professionals, I decided to join the Twitter trend at the conference. I wanted my friends and family to know that I was sitting in the audience listing to stories from Derrick Kayongo, Founder and CEO of the Center for Civil and Human rights, Captain Scott Kelly, Astronaut and United States Navy Test Pilot, Theresa Payton, former White House Chief Information Officer, and many more. Why not join the fun and use the hashtag?

Not only was I able to gain new followers and increase the number of likes and retweets for my own posts, but I was able to connect with people at the conference that I never got the chance to meet in person. With hundreds of attendees from all over the world, six keynote speakers, 81 breakout sessions and variety of other networking and professional development workshops over a short span of two and a half days, it was impossible to hear and see everything I wanted. Thanks to the event hashtag, #PRSAICON, I was able to follow along with the other tweets that shared photos, PowerPoint presentation slides, memorable quotes and entertaining GIFS. This hashtag made me feel like I got a piece of all of the sessions and I was able to participate in live conversations.

For this reason, I encourage marketers to think about how you can use emerging media to genuinely create opportunities that will benefit your audience, not just your brand. For those of you that have ran successful engagement campaigns, please feel free to share some some tips with us!


Robin Rectenwald is a marketing & communications professional based in Pittsburgh, PA. She is currently a student at West Virginia University in the Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program. Check out her blog, Trendy Marketers, for more of her posts.

HashTracking and Tagboard

November 26, 2013

I sat down to write the top things I learned after hosting the 2013 Association of College Unions International Region 8 Conference this past week and was sidetracked when a student emailed me.  She was doing some research and entered the conference hashtag (#acui8) into HashTracking to analyze the results.  I’d heard of HashTracking before, but it had completely fallen off my radar and onto the my long list of things to look into when I have some time. (Right below Flipboard and above the list of professional development books I’d like to read.)  Since that email my day has been derailed diving further into the insights provided by HashTracking.

Every week the Student Affairs Blog sponsors a Twitter chat (#SAChat), so I decided to track the chat via HashTracking.  It was very interesting to look at the results.  From this information organizers can tell how many people contributed, how many Tweets were composed, what percent of tweets were original or retweets, and what systems were being used to access the chat.  I caution against putting too much emphasis on the reach of the tweet and timeline deliveries because tweets have very short shelf lives and those measurements can be misleading – especially during a Twitter chat.

Another great aspect of tools such as HashTracking is that you can also listen to what customers are saying.  Account managers can get a better feel for where their company name is popping up and what is being said about it.  Many of these tools don’t just measure hashtags, but also words and phrases.  Below are some of the analytics from the #SAchat session on November 21, 2013.

 Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 3.21.56 PM

If you’re planning an event I highly recommend establishing a hashtag early and setting up HashTracking.  (You can sign up for a free 30 day trial and then move onto paid options if you utilize a lot of hashtags.)  Because we didn’t set up tracking prior to the conference, we weren’t able to fully analyze the results.  The system doesn’t work very well going back in time.  We were also able to set up monitors in two locations in the building that displayed live tweets throughout the conference and we displayed the live tweets during receptions and prior to keynote speakers.  It was a great way to encourage interaction with other conference attendees via Twitter and see what attendees were talking about.

In addition to using HashTracking, I’ve been having some fun with Tagboard.  Tagboard is great because it allows you to monitor conversations across multiple platforms.  You can see what people are saying about you and where they’re saying it.  This provides you with the opportunity to see which social networks your customers are on and if you should or should not join.  Tagboard is a great listening tool.

Twitter was a great resource for our conference and has been very successful in enhancing customer engagement for many companies.  Though the metrics are still being developed, there are some great tools out there to start measuring hashtag engagement.  Is anyone else using HashTracking or Tagboard?