Initially avoided like the plague, hashtags are now making their way into unbranded AND branded pharmaceutical social media properties, and it’s about time.
Remember when “#” was pronounced pound and indicated a number? Me neither. Ever since the first hashtag was used back in 2007 the world has become obsessed with them.
Hashtags are a fantastic way of classifying content to facilitate the discussion of trends or tracking topics of conversation. Whenever a # sign is introduced in social, a hyperlink gets created that works almost as a search engine, bringing all conversations associated with the hashtag. In a world where 6,000 tweets are posted every second, you can see why using hashtags to categorize content has become as popular and useful as the channel itself.
As hashtags become more prevalent, pharmaceuticals are feeling the pressure to incorporate hashtags inside their social media initiatives. Originally a Twitter-only option, hashtags can now be seen in everything from TV commercials, print, and as clickable items inside Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.
Back in 2013 Klick provided a POV on how the FDA viewed and understood hashtags with initial thoughts on how/why/when to use them, recommending a very cautious approach. Two years have passed (in technology years it’s more like twenty) and there is strong evidence hashtags can work for pharma and they are doing exactly what they are meant to do:
- Helps categorize content. E.g. #SpoonieChat
- Builds recognition and awareness
- Helps communities come together around a consistent idea (regardless of channel) E.g. #GetYourBellyOut for IBDers
- Encourages users to explore content. E.g. #FOAMed
- Can drive massive attention E.g. #actuallyshecan
- Help compel action E.g. #PinkIsNotACure
- Convey a value proposition Ex. #givesyouwings by RedBull
For example, a branded Twitter account for Gilenya uses the #Gilenya hashtag in tweets and video descriptions:
— GILENYA®(fingolimod) (@GILENYAGoUSOnly) September 14, 2015
As a big proponent of hashtags, I’m often trying to highlight them as opportunities for our clients’ social initiatives. Hashtags can help facilitate quick monitoring of discussions about brands, events, and DTC campaigns across social media.
Not every hashtag is a useful hashtag
The most successful hashtags tend to be personalized and directly associated with whatever it is they are trying to communicate. Tagging something #chocolate will not be as uniting as getting something like #mychocolateaddiction. There are a variety of great hashtag metric tools in the wild that can help you identify what your hashtag is doing and who is currently using it. My personal favorite is RiteTag only because it provides a browser extension that provides live metrics as you compose your post. This live capability along with their suggestions for similar hashtags (and their metrics) can really help get that post to the maximum potential number of users. The tool also provides a variety of metrics that can help you track the popularity and longevity of a particular hashtag, potential influencers, demographic information, and more.
Ignorance is… definitely not bliss #ThingsAreHappening #YouCanRunButYouCantHide
I’ve been in client meetings before where people are honestly shocked that #BRAND does exist and people are using it already. Pulling up Twitter and doing a quick search for #BRAND is not the same as pulling up a tool like RiteTag and showing them exactly how popular that hashtag is. This can and has opened up conversations around the importance of social media listening, but that’s a story for another time. Has your hashtag game improved after reading this post? Do you have any other tools you currently use for hashtag love? I’d love to hear those. Tweet at me! @atayraco. #DontBeShy #HashtagLove #SocialMedia #HCSM And check out our HASHTAGS: STATE OF THE NATION white paper report on their current usage, risk, and reward: