Is a Viral Hashtag an Art or Science?
A viral video doesn’t assure its hashtag will go viral with it. Take Mulberry for example. The luxury bags company had it all this Christmas: a polished viral video, a controversy around the video, and loads of free PR. But looking at the campaign’s social performance, it seems a bit squeaky. The numbers don’t sum […]
A viral video doesn’t assure its hashtag will go viral with it.
Take Mulberry for example. The luxury bags company had it all this Christmas: a polished viral video, a controversy around the video, and loads of free PR. But looking at the campaign’s social performance, it seems a bit squeaky. The numbers don’t sum up to a pleasing figure that suits such a high volume campaign.
Here’s how it all got started: Mulberry, the UK-based fashion company, launched a holiday campaign. The campaign featured a humorous video, resembling the Nativity scene, just with a red stunning bag instead of baby Jesus. A young woman gets a Mulberry bag as a present from her partner. Later on, some other characters (a local farmer, 3 wise men) join them to witness the miraculous bag.
The religious wink in the video did not go without a public rage against mimicking the theological story. 42 complaints were handed to the Advertising Standards Authority claiming it was blasphemous. But the ASA had a sense of humor and found that the ad didn’t breach the advertising codes. From Mulberry’s side, they enjoyed a fair share of good free PR and press coverage of the campaign.
The “Miracle of Mulberry” video quickly reached 1 million views, accompanied with the hashtag #MulberryMiracle. Unlike the high volume of views, the social performance didn’t match the same success. Only 78 Instagram posts and about 940 tweets on Twitter mentioned the campaign’s hashtag. For such a talked-about video these numbers seem to not fully exhaust the campaign’s potential.
Even comparing these numbers to Mulberry’s 2014’s video might suggest that something slipped away: 1.2m views for last year’s video accompanied 1,346 Instagram posts mentioning the hashtag and more than 2,300 mentions on Twitter. So what drove the lower hashtag engagement this year?
Breaching the Viral Hashtag Rules
Earlier this year we ran a research about successful hashtag campaigns and assembled data-based tips for a crafting a hashtag. Here’s a reminder of some our research takeouts and how Mulberry’s hashtag fits them:
- A hashtag shouldn’t be about the brand but around the audience.
A hashtag is a not just a sign for categorizing content. It’s a platform for communication. The pound sign connects the audience with the campaign and encourages them to share their take on it. When looking at the most successful hashtag campaigns, the picture is clear: no brand names. Because it’s not about the brand, but about the customer. Crafting a hashtag that puts the audience at the center is how you democratize the campaign and invite everyone to join it.
Mulberry chose to have their name in the hashtag. Having the brand name in a hashtag makes it feel promotional, which is a virality turn-off.
- A hashtag should be around a cause.
Holidays, especially Christmas, hold the merits of family values. The gatherings, dinners, gifts – all are good causes that can be used in a hashtag. Just choose one. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, humor is not a dirty word.
Take for example W+K Amsterdam’s Christmas #LetsGiveAFuck campaign. They created a campaign for a charitable platform that connects creative people with social causes. The phrasing and branding of the whole project was around the cause. You can’t turn your back on this hashtag. It just grabs your attention and pushes you to act – inquire for more info, share, use it. Causes are greater than ourselves. Put them on a hashtag.
- A hashtag should arouse a strong emotion.
It is well-known that content that evokes emotions – may it be hope, surprise, awe, anger, happiness – performs better. What’s better? It gets more shares.
Take Curry’s Christmas campaign. A family is gathered on Christmas to watch an old movie and everybody hates it. Yep, we would also be happy to skip some family gatherings, but hey, it matters. So #SpareTheAct and attend. This hashtag is a perfect updated emotional capture in just 3 words. #MulberryMiracle simply fails to arouse the emotion that its great video does.
Bonus smile here: Harvey Nichols #GiftFace.
The Power of a Standalone Hashtag
Isolating successful hashtags from their context reveals that they are still standing. When disconnected from the brand, with an emotional element within, a great hashtag is still valid.
Data proves that following the hashtag rules helps getting better social results. Maybe a tweak like #MyChristmasMiracle would have yielded different results. Just to be clear: Mulberry had a fantastic campaign, but the hashtag performed poorly.
By the way, remember the comparison of this year’s hashtag performance to 2014’s campaign? The 78 vs. 1,346 mentions on Instagram and the 900 vs. 2,300 on Twitter?
Well, that was Mulberry’s 2014 hashtag: #WinChristmas.
Both campaigns were creative, humorous and around Christmas gifting. But 2015’s hashtag mentioned the brand, and had no emotional touch point, while 2014’s hashtag was around the customer and about nailing the gift hidden competition. Making a viral hashtag might sound like an art, but it’s actually a science.
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