The internet is known for viral storms of popular content that often fade just as quickly as they rise. #Hashtags are a simple solution for tagging branded content and consumer feedback in an accessible way. However, the simplicity of the medium makes hashtags inherently unstable. While this tagging system easily identifies content for users to find, branded hashtags require maintenance and constant user engagement in order to effectively work. Hashtags are unique in that they do not need to be acquired, like domain names. This makes them easy to use by brands and consumers alike, but difficult to manage. Because hashtags are not owned, it is not possible to moderate the branded content and public usage of a hashtag. As a result, many companies have seen their hashtags quickly morph into unwanted content, leaving marketing teams looking for a modern, yet stable tool to reach consumers.
Much of the appeal to hashtags is the allure of simple and short branding opportunities. While it may appear that brands are flocking to hashtags, websites remain the primary destination for consumers to access brands. Domains act as permanent calls to action that marketing teams can easily manage and website traffic remains an integral marker for brands to determine conversion rates. Some recent numbers by Marketing Land have shown that domains outranked hashtags in Super Bowl ads for the first time since 2014. From a high of 57% three years ago, hashtags were only in about one-third of ads in 2017. It’s become clear that domains are used by consumers to access specific marking campaigns and products, while hashtags simply catalog all branded content – without any real call to action.
What can brand owners do get the most of their hashtag? When launching a marketing campaign, consider securing an array of domains to match the hashtag. Registering [brandhashtag].com and local market ccTLDs can help build a robust base for the campaign. In addition, it may be helpful to review the New gTLD offering for available domains that match the campaign brand string. The combination of integrated social media branding and the more permanent domain space allows brands to confidently navigate a marketing campaign from all sides.