The value of a hashtag

The hashtag turns 10 years old this August. (#HappyBirthday)

Think about that. In just one decade a symbol that used to be thought of as little more than a largely unused button on a phone has become one of the most utilized marketing tools in the world. From humble beginnings on Twitter, where the symbol’s use as a way to track conversations first began, the hashtag has become the global go-to tool for consumer engagement. Where it goes from here is unknown, but for now it seems safe to say the hashtag is here to stay.

Hashtags are perhaps the most useful way you to generate and monitor visibility on social media platforms. By using hashtags you can not only promote new releases and events, but also create a cross-platform space for fans to connect with one another. Hashtags allow you to cultivate a niche community across the world’s biggest social networks at cost that cannot be beat (free), and because of that they are – in today’s world – priceless.

That said, not all hashtags are the same.

In order to make the most of your hashtag you need to incredibly specific. If you are promoting a tour, for example, consider #bandnamelive or #tourname. Plaster this hashtag across all marketing materials and live appearances. Encourage fans to upload photos with the hashtag by choosing one such image to share each day through your official channels. Make them feel like every tweet they share with your hashtag furthers the movement that is your music.

You can also use hashtags to create an open and ongoing dialogue with – and between – fans online. Here’s a great example:

New Kids on the Block have a massive global audience. For years, the most dedicated followers have called themselves Blockheads, and now in the age of social media they are able to connect with one another, as well as the members of NKOTB themselves, using #BHLove

Donnie Wahlberg, perhaps the most famous member of NKOTB, uses this hashtag daily to reach fans. He also includes it in his bio.

You can click the hashtag #BHLove any time of day and find dozens of messages from fans around the world celebrating their ongoing love of the group’s music.

You might not yet have an audience like that of New Kids on the Block, but you have the access to the same tools they use to stay engaged with their fans. Use that to your advantage and work to create clever, original hashtags that can empower your fans to spread your news far and wide. If you can do that, there is no telling how far their love will take you.

James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also the host of the Inside Music podcast and 10-year music writing veteran. You should follow him on Twitter.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.