How to Create a Trending Hashtag
It’s not easy to get a hashtag to trend, and many attempts don’t go over very smoothly. At the very least, you can hope that a flop goes unnoticed, but there have been cases of hashtags that have failed miserably. Of course you don’t want your brand to look silly or unprepared, but this is online marketing, and you can’t let fear stand in your way. Rather than preparing for damage control, put some extra thinking into your campaigns. There are many variables that go into worthy hashtag campaigns, including the two dominating forces of content and distribution as noted in this Forbes article.
Let’s dive into a few of the easiest but guaranteed ways to get your hashtag trending – in a pleasant way of course.
Discuss a Funny or Relatable Topic
People love to share their stories to anyone who is willing to listen. The key is knowing what strings to pull to motivate people to contribute. Think of conversations that people will be compelled to add to. You can go the controversial route, but be prepared to mediate the comments. An easier approach is something lighthearted, fun and relatable. Think of some of the most successful hashtags so far: Everyone has a picture to share on #ThrowbackThursday (or #tbt) or a reason why #IhateMondays.
Team Up with Other Influencers
In order for your hashtag to receive widespread attention, it must receive appropriate distribution. This is a bit harder than creating a relatable hashtag because you’re depending on other people to do some of the work. To make distribution easier, have a team of influencers that are capable of helping you spread the word. These influencers should be identified early on so that you know who to reach out to as soon as you’re ready to move forward with your hashtag campaign.
Time Things Right
Speaking of moving forward with your hashtag, you need to make sure the timing is right if you want it to trend. Simply throwing out a hashtag and hoping it gains traction is going to leave you disappointed. What you need are a few ingredients: a trend-worthy hashtag and a simultaneous push from your influencers at the same time. Take note of the best times for your campaign (nights, weekends, normal business hours) and make sure your influencers will be available at that time to get things moving.
Knock on the Doors of Evangelists
Your brand’s influencers are important, but so your brand evangelists. Ask your influencers to reach out to their followers and get them involved too. Maybe they can retweet the hashtag on Twitter or upload a photo on Instagram using the hashtag. Whatever the request may be, evangelists are critical to your campaign. Between the two groups – brand influencers and evangelists – you get a firm groundwork built that starts driving the trend.
Give Clear Instructions
It’s important for everyone to understand what you want them to do with the hashtag. Your influencers may do a good job informing their own followers on what to do, but what about the general public? Are you giving your audience a reason to use the hashtag? You can be honest and upfront and simply ask people to retweet the hashtag because you want it to trend. But that’s not the only way to go about things. Why not get your audience engaged and having a little fun? Ask them to submit a photo using the hashtag, or give them an incentive such as entering them into a contest.
Push for Long-Term Success
Once your hashtag gains traction, don’t let it stop there. Keep pushing the hashtag so that it gains widespread attention. The more tweets per second that your hashtag receives, the more likely it is to trend continually. We’ve seen Fortune 500 companies excel at this. They have the influencers to do this, and they choose high-profile times where they know a lot of people will be on social media and open to tweeting such as during a championship game or awards show.
Although it would be nice, there is no exact science for how to get hashtags to trend. You’ve probably seen some pretty lame hashtags out there that still had a way of trending globally and others that were cool and relatable but never quite made the cut. The good news is that hashtags have a way of moving in and out rather quickly, so if one campaign doesn’t work, readjust a few things and try again with a new one. By understanding the process and following the tips above, you’ll give yourself the best chances for success.