You can’t watch television programs (or advertising for that matter) without seeing a conspicuously placed hashtag in the lower corner or your screen.
And while Instagram, Facebook, and Google Plus have incorporated hashtags with different levels of success, for most people hashtags are synonymous with Twitter. While hashtags are the most popular example of Twitter convention, there are a lot of businesses doing creative things on Twitter to engage their customers.
1. Hashtags drive viewer engagement and tune-in for Comedy Central’s #trumproast
Before hashtags were as widespread as they are now, it was unheard of to display a hashtag on the screen for a television program. To promote their “Roast of Donald Trump,” Comedy Central displayed the hashtag #trumproast on-screen, resulting in 25,000 tweets during initial transmission and driving television viewership higher than it had ever been for that time slot.
Now, television shows such at the “X Factor” generate upwards of 100,000 tweets per episode.
Twitter hashtags are a way for people to find a community with shared experience, who in turn generate additional interest in the event. Hashtag use like this is scalable so long as participants are using Twitter and that the event hashtag is prominently displayed.
2. The Minnesota State Patrol understands the application of hashtags for trending content
Oftentimes, trending hashtags will be comical phrases that users will creatively riff on. For example as I write this #HowToAskAGirlToHomecoming is trending, and the Twitterverse is populated with Tweets like this:
— Tweet Like A Girl (@TweetLikeAGirI) September 5, 2013
With this context, the Minnesota State Patrol initiated a social recruitment campaign around the hashtag “#iwantthathat” and the results were pretty great. From the interest generated by frequently scheduled tweets brandishing their non-traditional hashtag, the Minnesota State Patrol got a much more diverse population of applicants than they were accustomed to, one of the goals of their campaign.
It’s unlikely that traditional hashtags would have generated the same level of interest or enthusiasm.
3. AirBNB uses Promoted Tweets to promote new product offering
AirBNB came to prominence as a business that facilitates travelers to rent rooms, apartments or houses from people in their destination city. It’s a pretty brilliant idea that was executed well. But when they started to offer sublets, it was so different from their core offering that they had to get the word out. They did this with Promoted Tweets.
Promoted Tweets are paid, targeted tweets that are presented to people in their streams on Twitter. If you’re curious to understand why AirBNB would have to pay for tweets, think back to the last conversation you had about sublets and you may answer your own question.
As a result AirBNB’s engagement rate for their Promoted Tweets was 4% (standard social response would be 1% or less… and these were tweets about sublets).
ESPN has a very rich online offering. It is so good that it allows Seattle transplants to remain closeted fans of the Seahawks, despite living in Cincinnati (theoretically speaking of course). On each web page, ESPN has a conspicuous social sharing bar, and then has an additional Tweet button in their media player (nearly every page has a video associated to it). In one month, these buttons generate 4000 Tweets. This isn’t overwhelming until you realize that each Tweet draws 15 new readers to their site. Conspicuous use of buttons results in 60,000 additional readers for ESPN every month.
5. Bonobos knows that customers want discounts, so they had an exclusive Twitter sale
What is the number one that customers want from businesses on social? Discounts.
E-retailer Bonobos experimented with an exclusive one-day Twitter sale. They teased the sale in advance, engaged their audience and Tweeted often during the sale. The results? 100 first-time customers and 1200% ROI. At the time of the sale they had much than the 40,000 followers that they have now, and Bonobos products are not inexpensive. A tactic like this should be repeatable for many businesses to try for a low-cost.
6. Zappos leverages Twitter for customer service…plus
Shoe retailer Zappos is a very customer-centric company. They allow free-returns for all shoes, they are known for their committed employees and stellar customer service. And a portion of that customer service takes place on Twitter.
As discounts are the #1 thing that social customers want from businesses, guess what #2 is? Customer service. Zappos not only engages 40-85 customers daily on Twitter, but they embed customer-initiated Tweets about their shoes on their “TweetWall.” Not only can customers have their customer service issues resolved on Twitter, but Zappos elevates the customer engagement / promotion by giving their Tweets some notoriety.
Bonus: It works both ways. Customer uses Promoted Tweets to spur action from British Airways
While many of these tactics may seem inexpensive (and they are), it’s worth noting that your customers have the same tools available to them. Recently a British Airways passenger named Hasan Syed, frustrated that British Airways lost his luggage and gave him them runaround tweeted “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.” Not content to simply Tweet the message, he paid $1000 to promote the Tweet resulting in over 73,000 additional impressions and multiple media appearances resulting from the incident.
There are plenty of easy ways to further integrate Twitter into your marketing mix, and I hope this gives you a sense of what businesses are doing and what you have the capability to do.
Image: Rosaura Ochoa (Creative Commons)