Top 10 Successful Hashtag Campaigns That You Can Learn From

Running a hashtag campaign can be a challenging prospect but there are a number of brands who have successfully conducted such campaigns.

Whether by taking up a social cause, sourcing user-generated content, going above and beyond the campaign’s primary purpose, or creating an online community, these hashtag campaigns brought people together and made an impact in the world of digital marketing.

In this article, we will look at 10 successful hashtag campaigns that worked for brands and what you can take away from them when incorporating your next campaign into your marketing plan.

AirBnB – #WeAccept

Discrimination and prejudice have become hot topics across the world in the past few years. 

But the rise of social media has given marginalized communities a platform to become more vocal and brands have joined in.

In 2017, AirBnB launched the #WeAccept hashtag campaign following a spate of complaints about discrimination from AirBnb users.

The campaign reflected AirBnB’s new non-discrimation policy and featured diverse people in a series of social media posts and YouTube videos.

The treatment of the videos was simple—faces of people paired with melancholy music and bold text. 

The focus of the campaign was very much on the messaging—everyone is accepted in an AirBnb, no matter where they’re from, what they do, who they love, and what religion they follow. 

And it worked—the YouTube video itself has over five million views, which is huge, according to these YouTube marketing stats

What You Can Learn

Keeping your production simple and focusing on a strong, socially-relevant message is what you need for your campaign.

Always – #LikeAGirl

Always has been fighting for women’s empowerment for years now, and with their #LikeAGirl campaign, they cemented themselves as a brand that speaks for the people.

The term ‘like a girl’ has been used as a pejorative for decades and Always took it upon themselves to dispute the claim that being ‘like a girl’ was anything less than amazing.

Their hashtag campaign video—directed by documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield—was particularly hard-hitting. 

It showed how the impact of the phrase ‘like a girl’ changed over the course of a woman’s life. Girls who hadn’t heard the term believed everything they did was as powerful as what boys did. But grown women, boys, and men, translated the term ‘like a girl’ in often very insulting ways.

With #LikeAGirl, Always not only took up a social cause but used it to empower a group of people—the campaign’s goal was to help girls and teenagers regain their confidence.

The campaign attracted powerful voices from far and wide, including Michelle Obama and a number of Olympic athletes.

More than anything else, the hashtag campaign sparked conversation—what did it mean to be ‘like a girl’—and made people question their prejudices.

What You Can Learn

Taking up a social cause in your content marketing that could potentially change perceptions may be a terrifying ask but with research and by understanding your audience, you can create a powerful hashtag campaign that can help a community of people.

Apple – #ShotOniPhone

Millenials and Gen Z users photograph their lives almost on a daily basis—which has resulted in the meteoric rise of Instagram content.

Apple saw this as an opportunity to boost awareness about the quality of their iPhone camera and launched the #ShotOniPhone campaign.

What makes Apple’s hashtag campaign stand out isn’t just that it is so intrinsically tied into their product, but because of its interactivity.

Apple essentially created a user-generated content campaign—one that continues to power their Instagram account months after the initial campaign ended.

And Apple also went beyond the social platform with their hashtag campaign. Users weren’t just asked to share their photos for the glory of appearing on Apple’s Instagram account. 

The best photos were then featured on massive billboards, with a payment being offered to the winning photographers.

Apple’s Instagram posts with the hashtag consistently get hundreds of thousands of likes, and the hashtag itself has almost 10M posts.

What You Can Learn

Your hashtag campaign needs to be omni-channel. Find a way to tie your campaign into different channels—digital, print, outdoor, and beyond—to make the campaign more attractive to users.

ASOS – #AsSeenOnMe

Another great example of a user-generated content campaign done right is ASOS’ #AsSeenOnMe campaign in 2016.

The #AsSeenOnMe campaign asked users to share photographs of themselves wearing ASOS clothes. 

The best photos were featured on Instagram and users were also given the opportunity to share their looks on the ASOS website, where they tagged the products they had bought.

The hashtag was massively popular—over 46k people followed the hashtag and 120k users submitted photos for the campaign on Instagram.

The campaign’s success boosted ASOS’ Instagram followers and the hashtag continues to generate posts—over one million at last count—even today even though the official campaign came to an end years ago.

What You Can Learn

Tie the shopping experience into your campaign—give people a reason to share what they have bought from your brand, which will entice others to join in the fun.

Coca Cola – #ShareACoke

Every summer since 2014, mega beverage corporation Coca Cola has run their #ShareACoke hashtag campaign. 

The campaign was launched in conjunction with their new service—popular names were printed on Coca Cola bottles, giving patrons the option of buying bottles with their names on it or to buy bottles with the names of friends and family.

The aim of the campaign was for people to share these cola bottles with others and post pictures on social media, which the Coca Cola team would retweet or comment on.

The bottles are still in circulation, and with each passing year, Coca Cola has expanded the campaign to include more flavors and more names.

With this campaign, Coca Cola brought people and communities together by leveraging the personalization of their product. 

Till date, the campaign has earned Coca Cola over 650k posts on Instagram, and over 75k views on YouTube. 

What You Can Learn

Personalization is going to be the in-thing in 2020 digital marketing and your hashtag campaign should reflect that. Instead of the typical one-size-fits-all approach, understand what your audience needs and create a campaign that caters to them.

Destination Canada – #FoundinCanada

In the same vein as Apple, Destination Canada didn’t limit its user-generated hashtag campaign to one medium. 

Their #FoundinCanada campaign initially ran on Instagram and received over 2500 photos and videos. Those statistics would have been enough to deem the campaign a success. 

But because of the number of high quality images they received, Destination Canada stitched the entries together into a series of stunning videos they then uploaded to YouTube.

With this campaign, Destination Canada were not only able to share great content but they also managed to give potential visitors to the country a unique and authentic view that was both attractive and engaging.

What You Can Learn

User-generated content can be used in many ways. Don’t let the end of a hashtag campaign become the end of your engagement—think of ways to repurpose the content from your campaign across channels to increase followers and engagement.

Disney – #ShareYourEars–fxBe1Ecg

Giving back to the community should be an essential part of the brand building exercise, exemplified by Disney’s partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for the #ShareYourEars campaign.

The campaign was launched not only as a brand awareness exercise but also to raise money for Make-A-Wish to grant the wishes of critically ill children.

Disney asked people to share pictures of themselves wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, and for each image posted, Disney would donate $5 to Make-A-Wish, up to $2M.

Unsurprisingly, the campaign went viral with influencers and celebrities posting with the hashtag, encouraging Disney to up their pledge cap of $1M to $2M.

As of now, the hashtag has over 430k posts associated with it on Instagram. 

What You Can Learn

Find a suitable partnership opportunity for your hashtag campaign and your content can reach a wider audience.

GoPro – #GoPro

While most brands have a standard hashtag that they use alongside separate hashtag campaigns, photography brand GoPro changed the face of user-generated content with their brand hashtag. 

#GoPro is used by anyone who uses a GoPro and uploads their GoPro photos and videos on social media. 

The hashtag has been the source of endless user-generated content for the brand—so much so, that GoPro’s Instagram account is almost entirely dedicated to user-generated content.

Aside from a handful of announcement posts for new products, all of GoPro’s content is sourced from users.

GoPro understood how to leverage their product as a source of content generation and they’ve never looked back—they currently have over 16M followers on Instagram.

What You Can Learn

Your brand hashtag doesn’t have to be an also-ran that is subsumed within a more catchy hashtag campaign. Use your brand hashtag to promote your products and services and encourage people to engage with the hashtag on a regular basis.

L’Oreal – #WorthSaying

Global beauty brand L’Oreal leveraged its status with celebrities to launch a hashtag campaign that spread awareness beyond its brand, while also aiding charities.

#WorthySaying encouraged everyone, including celebrities like Eva Longoria, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lopez, Blake Lively, and Karlie Kloss, to share words of wisdom on the red carpet.

The campaign has been relaunched every year since 2016, and in 2019, L’Oreal collaborated with the Toronto International Film Festival for their #ShareHerJourney campaign.

The two hashtag campaigns came together to promote the voices of women—an apt move following the #MeToo movement.

L’Oreal pledged to donate 25 cents for every social media post that used either of the hashtags.

The campaign has since gone on to become a voice for women creatives and to empower women across many fields, proving that a hashtag can do so much more for a brand.

What You Can Learn

Your hashtag campaign can take on a life of its own—if you let it. Think about how your hashtag fits into the wider community and how it can give a voice to the community. By taking up such a social cause, your hashtag campaign will live on beyond its intended purpose. 

Starbucks – #WhiteCupContest

Creating possibilities for interactivity with your product is a great marketing campaign and that’s exactly what Starbucks did with their #WhiteCupContest campaign.

The #WhiteCupContest tapped into contest marketing and the competitive spirit of customers by asking patrons to doodle on the plain white Starbucks cups.

The winning doodle would become a design for a limited series of cups created by Starbucks. 

Needless to say, #WhiteCupContest went viral almost immediately, gathering 4000 entries in its first three weeks. 

Once the cups with the winning design were unveiled, it led to even more engagement with the hashtag with people sharing photos of themselves with the new cup design.

And even after the contest wrapped and the new design’s run ended, people are still using the hashtag to share their creations with the world.

What You Can Learn

Is there a new way that your product can be used? Why not turn that into an opportunity for a hashtag campaign? Interactivity can make for a great hashtag campaign and that is how you should view the potential for your campaign.

Create Your Hashtag Campaign Today

A hashtag campaign is about more than just increasing engagement and boosting brand awareness. It’s about bringing your customers and the community together. 

These brands have shown that a well-developed campaign can bring people closer, give voice to the voiceless, and change the world one social media post at a time.

When you are creating your own hashtag campaign, you should be looking at how your hashtag will impact people and add value to their lives.

The right hashtag with the right message can massively change how your brand is perceived, increasing your followers and engagement, and leaving a significant impact on the world. 

Author Bio:

Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic template and design platform. She enjoys writing about productivity, design, social media, the digital world, as well as pop culture, and diversity.

                Twitter: @Venngage


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