One in five (20%) consumers believe that hashtags are primarily useful for finding information on brands and products, though the most common use is for identifying trends (30%).

The findings come from a RadiumOne survey into consumer attitudes towards hashtags, which also revealed that out of the 58% of respondents that said they use hashtags, more than two thirds (70%) said they use them on a mobile device.

Unfortunately this question is slightly flawed as it appears that respondents were forced to answer either desktop or mobile, as if it’s impossible for a person to use hashtags on both devices, but it does at least indicate that people use them more frequently on their mobile.

Unsurprisingly, the report found that consumers would be more willing to use product-related hashtags if they were rewarded with discounts.

Half of those surveyed (50%) stated that they would share hashtags more often than they do now in return for discounts and 17% said they would be willing to post the promotion on their social profiles or follow the brand associated with the content if they weren’t already.

This tallies with a consumer survey from the CMO Council which found that there was an expectation that a brand follow, like, post or preference in a social media environment would enable a person to; be eligible for exclusive offers (67%), have the opportunity to interact with other customers who share the same experiences (60%) and gain access to games or contests (65%).

If advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product-based hashtags I would:

So hashtags can clearly be of use for marketers, and for more information you should read our blog detailing nine simple tips for creating Twitter hashtags, but ultimately consumers use them for personal reasons rather than communicating with brands.

When asked why they personally use hashtags, 41% of respondents said it was to communicate their own feelings and ideas and 34% said it was to follow categories and brands of personal interest.

It should be noted that shoehorning ‘categories and brands’ into the same answer is slightly misleading as they are really two separate categories.

I use hashtags primarily for:

Finally, the survey also asked respondents how they perceive and interact with hashtags, with 43% of people saying they found them to be useful.

I find this quite surprising as I feel that hashtags are massively overused, yet just 15% of respondents said that they find hashtags annoying, while 22% said they have little impact on the user experience.

David Moth

Published 3 April, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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