The hashtag as a marketing vehicle came into its own during the Super Bowl. Half the ads included a hashtag reference and advertisers like Oreo, Tide and Volkswagen used the symbol for real-time marketing via Twitter during the game’s blackout.
If the hashtag’s prominence reached new heights during the Super Bowl, it had already become ubiquitous as a way to group conversations around a topic not only in Twitter, but across other social media platforms, including Instagram and Pinterest.
According to a new survey by programmatic ad platform RadiumOne, nearly six in 10 (58%) of people have created or interacted with hashtags. Furthermore, 43% said they find hashtags useful, and 34% use them to search or follow areas of interest and personal brands. In that vein, 17% have discovered brands through a hashtag. In addition, more than half (51%) would share hashtags more often if they could get sponsored discounts in return.
The findings come from a random sample of 494 U.S. adults, 71% of whom were women -- so it’s fairly small and not representative of the overall population. A Pew Research Center report released last month estimated the percentage of U.S. Internet users on Twitter -- the locus of hashtag activity -- at 16%.
To capitalize on that activity, RadiumOne last year introduced the ability for marketers to target audiences based on content they hashtag or specific hashtags they tweet. During the Super Bowl, RadiumOne ran a campaign on behalf of Hyundai targeting people who used certain hashtags tied to the brand’s commercials and the game.
Hashtags were used to drive online video views even after the company’s ads aired. Some 70% of consumers who clicked on the TV ads through hashtags ended up watching the commercials all the way through, according to RadiumOne.
“Advertisers on Twitter spend a lot of money trying to promote their tweets or promoted hashtags,” said Kamal Kaur, the company’s vice president, mobile. “Once they have built that audience, what should they do now? One of the solutions RadiumOne provides is the ability to target these users outside that environment across the open Web.”
The ads aimed at those users can run both on the desktop and in mobile. In that vein, the survey showed that 71% of regular hashtag users interact with them via mobile. Overall, 14% would be willing to make a mobile purchase more frequently if incentives were provided through the use of hashtags.
“We’re learning the nuances of this platform and how consumers are already using it,” noted Kaur. That said, she added that using hashtags in traditional media like TV and print ads is a way to build further awareness about them outside social media.