Used in everything from daily online conversations to national commercials and billboards, hashtags have become a key element of marketing campaigns. And while popular among social media users, hashtags are used differently depending on the platform. Hashtags on Instagram help organize and categorize images and video content, taking a cue from Twitter’s excellent use of the tool. For a full list of how to hashtag integrations, see our guide on hashtag use.
Not only do hashtags on Instagram aid in content discovery and optimization, but they’re becoming increasingly important as brands launch heavily visual user-generated campaigns. Here are a few examples of how marketers are turning hashtags into outstanding operations on Instagram.
To help promote its newly launched DreamTone serum, Lancôme successfully combined two popular marketing elements in its #BareSelfie campaign: hashtags and selfies. As we’ve seen, brands have really embraced selfies as part of their marketing campaigns, and Lacôme’s initiative leveraged the trend perfectly.
During the campaign, the brand dared women to post pictures of themselves without makeup. Not only could this help generate engagement among consumers, but it also drove awareness as a social conscious campaign. As a result, more than 500 images were posted with the hashtag #BareSelfie on Instagram. More impressively, the selfie gallery on the company’s website generated a four percent conversion rate for the serum.
Sometimes great hashtags choose you, as is evident in the case of Bolthouse Farms. When the company was considering which social media platform would be most effective in driving awareness, Instagram was an easy choice. Not only were images powerful marketing tools for the nearly century-old brand, but more than 16,000 photos had already been uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #bolthousefarms without prompting from the brand.
With faith that Instagram could help tell the Bolthouse Farms story, the brand encouraged consumers to take photos of Bolthouse related imagery and upload them using the hashtags #carrotfarmers and #gotcoupon. In exchange, participants were awarded with $1.50 off of a Bolthouse beverage.
In a little under a year, the #bolthousefarms hashtag has almost doubled in the number of posts, and the #carrotfarmers campaign is on track to reach 24,000 posts. Better yet, according to the company, a majority of the people who are uploading images are also printing and redeeming the coupon.
While the campaign has generated outstanding business results, it also supports the “farm fresh” branding of Bolthouse Farms. “The beauty of the hashtag is that it reinforces that we are carrot farmers,” explained director of brand engagement Pamela Naumes.
Last summer, Lexus teamed up with 212 Instagrammers to create the LexusInstafilm — the first collaboratively created stop-motion film using Instagram photos. As part of the campaign, participants used only their mobile devices to take and edit photos before sharing them on Instagram. Hashtags like #frame203, weren’t used to drive awareness, but rather indicated where in the video sequence the Instagrammers’ photos should fall.
Lexus gained more than 1,000 followers on Instagram during the #LexusInstafilm campaign. While that might not be considered a monumental gain, the real reward here was the daring and creative collaboration between the luxury brand and its fans. It was certainly a unique use case of hashtags and a great way to make customers and fans feel like they’re part of the story.
Keep in mind that these examples are just a few out of the hundreds, if not thousands of ingenious hashtag campaigns launched by brands. And while they serve as inspiration, you’ll probably use hashtags a bit differently depending on your campaign goals as well as the platform your campaign launches on. For a refresher, we recommend reading through our guide on how to use hashtags on every social media network.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.