The Power of the #Hashtag
I’m old enough to remember when hashtags were called pound signs, and we played tic-tac-toe on top of them. ~ Anon
We love #SocialMedia! It is a wonderful representation of the ebbs and flows of the tech-led world in which we live. Right now, it does not feel like there could be any limitations to where it can go and how it can further connect us all.
It has been fascinating to watch how social media has developed in a particularly short period of time, and what trends have stuck since the early days. One such trend that most, if not all, readers here will recognise is the #hashtag.
For years we have witnessed hashtags appearing all across our feeds on our favourite social media platforms, even becoming an accepted part of language today.
The history of the hashtag goes back to August 23rd 2007, when Twitter user Chris Messina offered the pound sign # in his tweet as a way to organise messages into meaningful groups. Since then hashtags have been used on social networking sites worldwide.
The philosophy of the hashtag in today’s social media game is two-fold:
It is an effective way to tag (the clue’s in the name) the content you are sharing. This can be anything from expressing feelings (e.g. #FeelingGood) to what it is you’re sharing (e.g #Pancakes or #Watercolours), or getting involved in national/international days (e.g. #WorldBookDay) to just highlighting key words (e.g. #Creativity or #WOW). There are no real limitations to this.
It is an effective way to get your content pushed out into a wider remit. Using trending hashtags around events, news and communities, will undoubtedly get your content seen by more people. For example, if you were to post something related to England’s build up for the World Cup semi-final, versus Croatia, your post would have had better reach if it included #ItsComingHome - as this was the trending hashtag around this event.
For schools we see a third reason to use hashtags: it can drive school culture and insight to the right audience - a school’s community. Just check out the below examples to see exactly how these schools are doing it.
We have written a lot about why a school should create a #ContentStrategy to help guide their marketing efforts. It is an important step for a school marketing team to undertake if they want to have authority over their social media and digital comms. Efforts should be planned and proactive, not on the fly and reactive.
Using hashtags as part of that strategy can be to huge effect. Whole campaigns can be built around them, giving your audience an opportunity to follow it in detail and become a part of it too. This can be applied to anything but let’s use a school fair as a great example.
School Fair example
The school fair is a large event, allowing members of the public to attend as they wish. It is recognised in your community (location wise) as a great day and generates lots of interest. It is not just parents and pupils at the school who come, but plenty of locals too. This year, to help generate wider interest and create a legacy, you have decided to use hashtags (e.g. #intSchoolsFair19) to help record everything that happens.
Before the Fair
Using social media and print publications (posters, mailout leaflets, billboard ads, bus stop ads and whatever else could work for you) the school can begin to promote the upcoming fair. This may be done through videos, photography, and other forms of content dependent on the medium. The most important part however is to ensure that the hashtag is clear: #intSchoolsFair19.
This will build excitement around the event and, using that hashtag, give your community a place to go to for more information.
During the Fair
Let staff and attendees know that taking lots of pics and videos is highly encouraged. They should feel free to share them on their platform of choice (such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook) and remember to use the correct hashtag. This will build a great library of content, increase engagement on your posts and social standing and entice people to share #SchoolStories.
After the Fair
Now the ball is very much in your court. You have a rich library of content, from an engaged community, which you can use for follow up marketing. It is easy to share, source and integrate into comms. Lots of potential and all because you used a hashtag to define this story!
This principle can be used for all forms of marketing and events. The key is to define a #HashtagStrategy and go from there.
Still unsure? We can help with this!
We have years of marketing strategy and knowhow under our belts, having helped 100’s of #indyschools develop content strategies and vastly improve their authority on social media.
We offer training days for schools - where we will come and talk to the whole school, to inspire their part in marketing and sharing all those great #SchoolStories. We will help define a strategy that can be employed across the entire school - making you ✨stand out✨ from your competitors. Pretty cool, right!