Brands #hashtag their way into sparking off consumer conversations

From Nivea to Flipkart, brands are increasingly using hashtags to start conversations, remain topical and relevant on social media

e4m by Sarmistha Neogy
Updated: Jul 10, 2015 8:54 AM
Brands #hashtag their way into sparking off consumer conversations

On Thursday #momstouch was trending on Twitter after Nivea India launched with their new social initiative campaign ‘Stories of Extraordinary mothers and extraordinary care’. It is a salute to those mothers who have fought impossible odds, who take adversity everyday only to give their children what they themselves couldn’t have. The brand supports these mothers with grocery for their household. Twitterati shared their special moments using the hashtag #momstouch as an opportunity to thank their moms for the sacrifices they have made.

Click here to view the Nivea video:

Here is an excerpt of few of the conversations on Twitter:

Last week, Mahindra & Mahindra was also trending during the launch of their campaign ‘KisiSeKamNahi’ where they have used retro music to talk about their two new products Mahindra Gusto scooter and Mahindra Centuro motorcycle. The brand used the hashtag #KisiSeKamNahi for people to interact on social media and start conversations around the campaign. The video not only went viral with several hits on YouTube but it also generated a lot of online buzz.

Click here to view the Mahindra ad:

Today in the midst of severe competition, engaging with the audience and asking for their attention on the digital platform has become a real challenge. A noticeable trend these days is that brands are using hashtags to launch their mass media campaigns.

Tripti Lochan, CEO, VML, cites two reasons for brands to use hashtags for their marketing initiatives, firstly, it acts as an identifier, almost an indexing mechanism to know when a certain theme/ topic/ campaign are being talked about in the social world. It also helps as a tag to know when consumers have picked up an idea and are talking about related themes. The second critical role it can play is to act as a call to action for a campaign or a brand belief on an ongoing basis. If you don't think either of these objectives contributes to your campaign/ brand, then it’s immaterial to use it.”

According to Suveer Bajaj, co-founder & Director, Media Operations, FoxyMoron, “Earlier people used hashtags as conversation aggregators, then brands saw an opportunity in this and they also started using hashtags in the social media platforms. The beauty of a hashtag is that it can be interpreted in many different ways and not like how the brand would want us to do. Today, a hashtag is used mainly for conversational purposes and it trends when people are really talking about the brand’s marketing initiative. However, chances of a branded hashtag (brand’s name in the hashtag) getting trended is very less, until and unless, there is some controversy around it.”

He further highlighted that there is a direct coordination between a brand and a hashtag. So even if the hashtag has been created to push a particular new campaign and start conversations around it, the video not only gets hits, but the brand also benefits.

The recent guerrilla marketing battle which took place among the e-commerce players also started with a hashtag. Flipkart two days, prior to launching their campaign, ‘Nahi Khareeda, Achha Kiya’, used the hashtag #AchhaKiya to generate curiosity and buzz before announcing a sale. Snapdeal came out with a befitting marketing reply and used it to their advantage with their hashtag ‘Acha Kiya bata diya. #YahanSeKharido. Other e-commerce players like Amazon, PaisaBazaar, CouponDunia and IndianRoots also joined in the battle of words.

Click here to view the Flipkart ad:


Last month, Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital launched a campaign with a hashtag #Dare2Stare, which urged people to take time out and pledge their eyes for donation, because there are more than 3 million Indians waiting in the queue. The brand used the hashtag to challenge other brands like Coca Cola, Amazon, Havells, Mountain Dew and Paper Boat. This generated lot of positive conversations on the social media.


Click here to view the Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital video:

Is hashtag a necessity for brands today?

Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO, WatConsult feels that today most of the brands are using hashtags for tactical reasons, it is more for a call-to-action purpose rather than building a brand. “Twitter started the hashtag phenomenon, then Instagram followed it and now it is also there on Facebook. The purpose of hashtags today is very short-lived and most of the brands are using them to look cool and be a part of the trend. Hashtags however, doesn’t guarantee that it will go viral; your content has to be strong enough to push it. It is not a must to have a hashtag, but having one, helps social media firms to track and measure the reach of the campaign,” he cited.

He commented, “Kotak Mahindra had done a large scale nation-wide campaign recently, for which they had used hashtag #KonaKonaKotak even for their mainline campaign. I am not sure, how this helps to drive digital growth, because it was not even a digital campaign. I find Mahindra using hashtags strategically, like their #MahindraRaise, it is a long term plan and it helps to build the brand as well.”

Lochan pointed out that considering brands and their communications are heavily present in the social media space now, hashtags are critical to consider when you want to know the impact of any digital marketing. Few things needs to be kept in mind, while making a hashtag, like we must remember that majority of the people are interacting with most brand communications predominantly via a mobile device, especially in India.  Therefore to ensure your hashtag is used and shared generously, don't make it too lengthy that users may think it too much effort to type it and use it. Also a hashtag needs to be relevant to the brand and the message the brand is communicating.

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