Best of 2015: The Year’s Best Branded Hashtag Marketing


Branded hashtag marketing in 2015 hit all new highs as more and more online marketers realized what’s possible. No longer are brands simply waiting for trending hashtags to come along and jumping on board. Nor are they simply using a product as a hashtag and thinking that we, as social media consumers, find it interesting.

Brands now understand that hashtags are meant for two things:

  • To tell stories based on a topic.
  • To have a conversation based on a topic.

The topic should be clearly determined by the hashtag.

Here are 10 brands (in no particular order) that nailed it this year with hashtags that perfectly told the story, and with great stories to be found once you clicked on them. This type of storytelling is how your brand will get followers on Twitter, and create a brand story that people care about.

Best Hashtag #1 – #JustDoIt: Nike goes undercover with the world’s most famous slogan

We all know Nike’s ‘Just do it.’ The slogan has been around since 1988, and has been a large part of many successful marketing campaigns from the brand.

This year they took the world’s most popular slogan and used it to have personal conversations, one to one, with their Twitter fans. All tweets using the #justdoit hashtag were replies to Twitter users talking about working out. I found hundreds of examples from January – June with a Nike representative encouraging people to #justdoit in tweet replies:

Best Hashtag #2 – #BTTF2015: The hashtag we all wanted

Back to the Future Day, October 21 2015 (the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrived in ‘the future’), was a bigger party than any of us anticipated.

This cultural touchpoint of a movie was made all the better thanks to #BTTF2015. This hashtag was used by the official Back to the Future Twitter account to connect content all year long relating to the release of the trilogy on October 21, 2015, and to give fans a chance to speak with one another:

Best Hashtag #3 – #PepsiPerfect: The drink we all wanted

I cannot underscore the impact of Back to the Future Day in this year’s online marketing. I could touch on Nike’s efforts or the great work done by Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s Foundation, but figured it would be best to give Pepsi their props for using the #PepsiPerfect hashtag.

The brand exposure Pepsi received for releasing 6500 bottles of their ‘futuristic’ beverage from Back to the Future 2, and another 6500 2 weeks later, was tremendous. Weeks ahead of the October 21st release they were hyping this hashtag to incredible retweet numbers. This is largely in thanks to a YouTube video they tweeted, and also due to extreme fan excitement:

Best Hashtag #4 – #CP3iD: Trying to hype the new generation

The absolute dominance of Michael Jordan’s retro sneakers in the sneaker collector market is astronomical. Chris Paul, CP3 to his fans, is part of a new generation of players sponsored by the Jordan brand who strives to live up to MJ23’s unending legacy.

To help CP3 launch his new shoe this year, Jordan brand pushed fans to share their own custom designs of CP3’s shoe on NikeiD. This created some great user-generated content for the Jordan brand and got more people excited about a CP3 launch than in year’s past thanks to a VERY interesting Twitter contest:

Best Hashtag #5 – #MarvelHalloween: Geeks gonna geek

User-generated content is always a big win for brands. Marvel won big this Halloween when they took their fan’s excitement for all things Marvel and gave them a push to use their branded hashtag. Hundreds of fans tweeted, but my bias towards Guardians of the Galaxy clearly shows in my choice of tweet:

Best Hashtag #6 – #Caughtondropcam: The lighter side of being watched all of the time

Nest make a product which many find, well, creepy. Their primary product is self-learning smart thermostats. That’s not easy to tweet about. Instead, they decided to highlight the fun side of their security camera system by tweeting funny videos with the hashtag #caughtondropcam. Funny moments from families, amusing cats, and wild animals going wild were all featured to great retweet numbers. More importantly, Nest showed the human side of a product that could come across as a bit Orwellian:

Best Hashtag #7 – #SharetheForce: Target finds the cross-platform campaign it was looking for

Target successfully joined the new Star Wars film excitement by utilizing cross-platform marketing, hashtag marketing, video marketing, and user-generated content to create the #SharetheForce campaign.

Fans first watched a video on YouTube which pushed them to a website. On the website fans could create a Star Wars memory to share on social media with the hashtag #SharetheForce. Using the hashtag alongside this user-generated content for Star Wars product launches is how they’re getting people in the door and making purchases:

Best Hashtag #8 – #Maketherightcall: DiGiorno’s can’t stop with the jokes

DiGiorno’s Twitter account may be the most joke filled branded Twitter account around. They are a non-stop source of off-the-cuff humor, sarcasm, and wicked burns said in jest. They have used hashtags in the past (#DigiorNOYOUDIDNT was hilarious last year) to connect their jokes which revolve around a theme. This year it was #Maketherightcall. They used this hashtag best for real-time commenting on live NFL games. This fit the hashtag’s overall theme of making the ‘right call’ on game day – to skip delivery and to have a Digiorno’s pizza ready:

Best Hashtag #9 – #DewxNBA: Mountain Dew keeps it zany

The Mountain Dew Twitter account has become well known for being a bit off the wall. They say silly things and for a time it looked like they had a mascot that was a lizard mixed with Evel Knievel.

When they partnered with the NBA we all expected them to tone it down a bit and fall into a more corporate step with one of the world’s biggest sporting organizations. No such thing happened as NBA star Russell Westbrook ‘power-stanced’ his way to thousands and thousands of retweets in several tweets like this one:

Best Hashtag #10 – #MyJobasaMovieScreenshot: The Academy comes to your workplace

The Academy Awards are always a big moment on Twitter. From what everyone wore, to what they said, and even a few tweets make it out over who won the awards themselves!

This year the Academy decided to help people connect with the Awards by sending out a screenshot from a movie that described their workplace in one picture. It was a big win for them as hundreds of people created content that made us all laugh a little, while reminding us of great movies. This type of content goes a long way to creating lifelong Twitter followers that care about a brand. I chose a tweet which cheats with a GIF, but I’ll allow it as it pretty much summarizes my day, every day:

What we learned from branded hashtags in 2015

The overall point to take away from the best banded hashtags of 2015 is that people are more interested in seeing stories unfold, and in communicating with one another, than anything else. If you’re still using your branded hashtags like this: “Buy our new #Widget. It has the most cutting edge features available.” You’re doing it WRONG.

Instead, try to tell a story over multiple tweets, or get your fans to tell your story for you. Try a tweet more like this: “The Widget’s interesting features are helping people. Tell your #widgetstories and earn a retweet!” This example gets your followers to tell a story, gives them a motivation, and will generate lots of user-generated content.

Please comment below with your favorite hashtags of the year! Did I miss any that blew you away?

About the Author:

Matthew Yeoman is the Devumi Social Media Blog writer and analyst. You can visit the blog for more YouTube marketing help, as well as the latest news on social media marketing. For the tweeting types, you can follow the @Devumi Gorilla on Twitter for 24/7 updates on the social media world, as well as bad jokes with a gorilla theme.

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