Or, designing hashtags into marketing and collateral beyond Twitter
Originally published on PV Solar Report
By Aimee Tuck, Corbae Creative
With contributions by Glenna Wiseman, Identity3
Glenna Wiseman, founding principal of Identity3, who delivers vibrant marketing to empower a sustainable world, has written some great pieces on effective hashtag marketing. I highly recommend them. In part one, she says, “As a solar industry trade show and event organizer your hashtag strategy can help drive awareness, increase attendance and bolster the marketing efforts of participating exhibitors and sponsors.“
Once you’ve followed her advice and are ready to roll with a campaign, how do you incorporate hashtags into design?
Hashtags are a great way to build a conversation around a specific topic across various social media. And a campaign goes beyond simply using the hashtag on Twitter. How can you use hashtags across various media to your advantage?
Let’s start with a few basics about using hashtags
Make it readable
There have been some pretty spectacular hashtag fails involving words without spacing spelling something completely different than the intended message. Remember #susanalbumparty, #nowthatchersdead… anyone? Using appropriate capitalization when using the hashtag will help clarify your message. #NowThatchersDead gives the correct emphasis. But, you only have control of your own tweets. Use capitalization for clarity in all of your own tweets and in your own marketing materials. Write out your hashtag in all lowercase first, and ask eyes that haven’t seen the hashtag before to take a look at it and make sure they don’t see words that aren’t there.
Great uses of capitalization for easier reading: #GoSolar, #SPIcon
Pick one hashtag for a campaign. Messages with a lot of hashtags look spammy, even if they’re not. Using more than one hashtag for a campaign will also muddy the waters. You want a clear channel of communication about your chosen subject or product.
There is an exception to this and that is if your hashtag gets hijacked for another message. At that point, you will need to rethink your campaign hashtag, after some serious consideration as to why your hashtag was re-appropriated in the first place.
Make sure the medium matches the message
If you are trying to promote a campaign showcasing your high-end solar installs with #ElegantSolar, and have your staff walking around in thin, cheap, white t-shirts with #ElegantSolar on it, your message does not match the medium. A sleek, stainless steel water bottle with #ElegantSolar on it would better drive home the point.
On the other hand, if you are showcasing your new, mobile PV systems perfect for travelling carnivals and outdoor fairs with #FunWithSolar, then having a photo contest and a clown nose giveaway with #FunWithSolar printed on them would make perfect sense.
Now that you have a readable hashtag, there are multiple avenues to promote it in addition to including it in a Twitter stream.
Using a photo is a great way to draw your audience’s attention to a message. I recommend including your hashtag as part of the photo. Be as creative as you’d like with this, from simply including it as an overlay in a corner of the photo, to fully incorporating the hashtag as an integral part of the photo. Including your hashtag will re-iterate the hashtag to your audience, and should the image get separated from your message, the hashtag can still be followed back to the conversation.
Sample of simple Twitter image with integrated hashtag
Sample of more complex Twitter image with hashtag integrated more fully into the image
Tip: If you’re at a show or event, I recommend using an app to add hashtag text to your photos on the go. Here is a great roundup of some apps you can add to your phone to add text to your images when you’re on the show floor.
If you’re establishing a conversation around a specific hashtag, getting that hashtag out to the world and associating your company with it is necessary. Consider promoting it through other methods beyond social media to reach a wider audience. Even if it is not the main message in the piece, include it as part of your contact info. Use it in advertising, printed pieces such as brochures and sell sheets, add it to your email signature. And send out an email to your email list (You do have an email list, right? That’ll be a post for another day.)
You can choose to make the campaign around the hashtag front and center in this collateral or it can be incorporated as part of your contact information. But, if you don’t use it, no-one else will either.
Use it as part of a tradeshow/convention promotion
An excellent use of hashtags is around a tradeshow or convention. You might use it to promote an event or product showing at the tradeshow. The momentum created around the buildup to a show can be carried over after the show to continue the conversation using the same hashtag.
So, you’ve developed the hashtag, developed pre-show materials with the tag included, now what to do at the show? Display it prominently.
Does this mean a complete booth redesign? Not unless you have the budget for it. If you do, let’s talk! But, you should display it prominently, remembering to incorporate it to complement your booth, not distract from it. Keep the five second rule in mind. And I don’t mean the food on the floor rule. You have less than five seconds with that person walking by your booth. They will read and take in everything they’re going to in five seconds.
What can you do to showcase a campaign around a hashtag without redesigning your booth? Here are a few suggestions:
These pull-up banners are a great way to add a hashtag callout to your booth without redesigning the booth. Remember two things: 1) You really only have five seconds, so keep it short; and 2) Remember where the display will be set and make sure the text is readable by a passerby. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed by a booth with a pull up display set in the back of the booth behind a table and half the banner is blocked from view.
If it fits with your general look, wear the hashtag. Place it where it is easy to read on the shirt from a distance.
Make it a running part of your video if you’ve got a screen running
If you have a video running, you can add it to the video, or include it as a ticker along the bottom of the screen so it is constantly viewable.
While you’re not recreating your booth, you can add to it with pop-out signage or a hanging mobile if your space allows.
Make sure to include it on all staff cards, even if you print a short run of cards just for the show if you are not planning on using the hashtag long term (i.e. if the hashtag is tied to a specific event). Also make sure it is on the general company-only business card always available in your booth.
Adding it to giveaways is a sure way to make sure that hashtag is spread throughout the show. But, see my warning above about the medium matching the message.
So, there you have it, a list of ways to incorporate your hashtag into your campaign beyond your Twitter feed. Have fun with it, be creative, and when it comes time to use the tag, be respectful of your audience.
Be sure to read Glenna Wiseman’s articles on Solar Event Hashtag Marketing for some incredibly valuable advice:
- Part I: For Event Organizers
- Part II: For Industry Marketers, including a link to a handy guide to industry events and their hashtags.
Principal and Creative Director
With a diverse background in design and marketing communications, including earning her marketing design chops in the building industry, Aimee got her start in the solar industry in 2000, working with Xantrex Technology, post merger with Trace Engineering. Bringing her technical expertise together with her design and marketing experience, Aimee has helped define visual and marketing strategies for B-to-B and B-to-C solar companies national and international in scope.
Aimee founded Corbae Creative in 2002 to provide effective design and marketing communications solutions to renewable and sustainable companies. She has had the opportunity to work with amazing solar companies over the years, helping drive design and marketing strategy in unique ways. Never forgetting “effective”, Aimee works closely with marketing, sales, and engineering teams to ensure on point messaging that tells a story in a visual way.
Aimee has spoken about design as a marketing strategy in the solar industry as well as published pieces offering practical advice to help design stand out.
Glenna Wiseman is a solar industry marketing veteran who brings the installer’s point of view to marketing communications. Her solar marketing expertise dates from 2007. For five of those years, she led the marketing initiatives for a California based solar installation firm. Glenna has built integration companies for more than 10 years, resulting in a holistic and enterprise-level perspective on marketing for solar installers.
As founder and principal of Identity³, she delivers vibrant marketing for firms at every stage of the solar supply chain, nationally and internationally. Through an Energy Trust of Oregon soft cost reduction initiative she created the “Build it Bright, Crafting Your Solar Marketing Program” series for installers now featured on HeatSpring, an educational platform serving 47,000 visitors monthly.
Glenna is a recognized writer and speaker within the industry, covering a wide range of topics, including marketing solar to women. She has been a moderator and speaker at Solar Power International and Intersolar North America.