Signature Hashtags are hashtags your company develops and tries to own on social media; the ultimate goal is to get social media users to adopt and use the hashtags, boosting the overall visibility and appeal of your brand. Sometimes a signature hashtag is as simple as using your brand’s name: check out #Pandora or #Harley to see the concept in action.
Signature Hashtags can also be developed for a particular campaign or event. Coca-Cola has been very successful with its #ShareACoke, which is fully integrated into a campaign that includes specially printed cans. It’s important to keep the relationship between your Signature Hashtag and your brand explicitly clear: not everyone was aware that the #PetsAtWork, which advocated for animals in the workplace, was owned and operated by Purina pet foods.
Signature Hashtags are not always generated by the people they reference. #LeBroning, for example, was almost certainly not coined by the basketball star with the flair for the overly dramatic; fans took it upon themselves to use his name as a form of ironic commentary. In other instances, attempts at creating a Signature Hashtag backfired; McDonald’s tried to encourage feel-good narratives about sharing fries with friends with their #McDStories. Instead, they found themselves overwhelmed by nasty, negative stories. This points to the fact that if you’re going to launch a Signature Hashtag, you’ve got to commit to monitoring it.
When creating a Signature Hashtag, think through how it will be read – and then think through how it will be read by someone with a teenager’s sense of humor. #SusanAlbumParty was supposed to be Susan Album Party – but that’s not how thousands of people read it. Additionally, avoid ‘hijacking’, which is tying your brand message to a current trending hashtag that has nothing to do with your offerings – particularly if the trending hashtag is related to a natural disaster or manmade tragedy.