Many PR professionals would argue that branded hashtags and organized Twitter Chats are not a good idea, however, there is no denying their ability to increase awareness and conversation with consumers. The challenge is managing the conversation.
What is a branded hashtag?Many companies are starting to use customized hashtags (AKA branded hashtags) to get the public talking about their product/service. For example #ShareaCoke is a branded hashtag that Coca Cola used for their “Share a coke with…” campaign. Often branded hashtags are used in conjunction with Twitter Chats, as hashtags connect the company with their consumers.
Managing the ConversationThere is one thing you need to understand when using branded hashtags – you have no control over how the audience will engage with that hashtag. This is every brand manager’s worst nightmare!
You must prepare yourself for negative feedback and have an array of strategic responses ready to use when needed. When participating in a Twitter Chat the idea is to interact with your consumers and actively partake in social listening. The feedback you receive can be very valuable, which is why it is essential you respond to both positive and negative Tweets. You want your consumers to know you are listening and are working to make your brand the best it can be.
Building Consumer TrustUnderstandably your Brand Manager may cringe when you suggest using branded hashtags, however, there is value in engaging your consumers and getting their feedback – it builds trust. When consumers feel they are a part of the conversation, which leads to change it results in increased brand confidence.
This leads me to the other essential aspect of using branded hashtags - you must follow through. Your consumers will be watching to see if you incorporated their feedback into future marketing initiatives. If you do, you have effectively built consumer trust and increased brand engagement.
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