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Twitter celebrated its 10th birthday this week, and despite all its problems it has arguably become as important a technical feature of society as the TV or the telephone.
Not a single campaign or significant event goes by without having a hashtag attached, and Twitter quite often becomes the primary source of news for individuals and high-profile publications alike.
In light of all that, I thought I’d celebrate some of the very best uses of hashtags I’ve seen from brands over the years.
The #nomakeupselfie campaign has helped to raise more than £8m for Cancer Research UK. This money will fund 10 clinical trials, an astonishing achievement.
Many articles have commented on just why the campaign was so successful, from its mobile nature to the emotional triggers pulled by shared photographs.
What hasn’t been covered is just how Cancer Research UK dealt with such a large amount of social action. How does the team to react and capitalise on what some may think amounts to a black swan event?
I spoke to Aaron Eccles, senior social media manager at Cancer Research UK and asked him about the campaign. Here’s what I learned.
Hashtags are a key part of the Twitter experience as they allow users to link together otherwise disparate tweets, thereby creating conversations and streams of information around particular themes or events.
Unfortunately they have become an overused medium and are frequently used as ironic punch lines in dreadfully unfunny tweets.
In fact someone put it quite aptly when describing hashtags as the digital version of the ‘not’ joke.
And yet hashtags still have a practical use on Twitter and are an excellent marketing tool, so it came as little surprise when Facebook also enabled a similar feature a few months ago.
So considering the fact that hashtags have proven to be such an excellent tool for search and conversation on Twitter, it’s a shame that they’ve proven to be so useless on Facebook.
Facebook has had a very busy summer.
From preparing the groundwork for a video ad service, to pushing the Facebook hashtag, the social juggernaut has been trying to convince advertisers and investors that the platform is a hotbed of viral activity, not just the world’s biggest directory of human beings.
To Facebook’s credit, it seems to be winning the battle on Wall Street, with the stock trading over 30% above its flotation price after a disastrous IPO.
However, one battle it will not win is the social television battle against Twitter.
Photo-sharing app Instagram has long since left its hipster roots behind and is now a social network for the masses, which inevitably means that marketers are looking at ways to exploit its popularity.
According to the platform’s own statistics, Instagram’s 130 million active users share 45 million photos every day so there’s plenty of opportunity to gain brand exposure.
And on that theme, here are nine ways in which brands can use Instagram for marketing...
Hashtags in social media marketing are overused and under-appreciated, but it also can be hard to measure the success of hashtag campaigns.
Marketers need to do more than count likes and followers. They need to truly understand sentiment, language, tone of voice, and the trends of how conversations unfold, and campaigns are re-appropriated, around their chosen hashtag.
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.
The overenthusiastic use of hashtags is one of the most annoying aspects of Twitter, particularly when the hashtag in question is overused or just doesn’t make any sense (e.g. #justsayin).
But they are also a vital part of the mechanics of Twitter, so marketers need to be able to come up with a good hashtag if they want their social campaigns to have any impact.
The use of hashtags is something we've previously looked at in posts rounding up 2012's biggest social media fails and looking at Twitter's relationship with TV. You can also find out more in our Twitter for Business Best Practice Guide.
And to help marketers avoid breaking some of the cardinal sins of hashtagging etiquette, RadiumOne’s European MD Rupert Staines has put together a handy list of dos and don’ts.
So here’s what you need to know...
Didn't think Twitter was mainstream?
All doubt about Twitter's position in the media world was laid to rest this weekend as the company aired its first ever television commercial during the Pocono 400 NASCAR race.
The devastation in Haiti has brought people from all over the world together online in what can only be described as an impressive display of generosity.
Not surprisingly, Twitter is playing a big role in disseminating information about the crisis. And it's playing a big role in fundraising for organizations providing relief to Haiti. Unfortunately, unscrupulous marketers are taking advantage of the situation to further their business interests.
Twitter is a wonderful service. But it isn't perfect. The popular microblogging service is increasingly the target of spam techniques that threaten the service's utility and value.
Here the the seven techniques that spammers are employing on Twitter...
Twitter can be used for many things. From communicating with friends, family and associates to building an online profile to promoting products and services, many individuals employ Twitter for important functions.
But some of them shoot themselves in the foot by engaging in Twitter sin.