While studying JetBlue’s feed I began to notice one hashtag they used consistently: #JetBlueSoFly. I started looking into the hashtag and realized that hashtags can be a great way to build a community around your brand. Hashtags not only connect the company to their customers, but the customers to each other. If you click a handle (@JetBlue) you’re taken to that particular users feed. If you click a hashtag, however, you’re taken to a collective feed of all the tweets using that hashtag. That makes it easier for all users using a specific hashtag to connect.
JetBlue encourages their customers to share pictures, flight and travel tips, and travel experiences and recommendations using the hashtag, and many people do. The tweets tend to be travel photos, but as you’ll see in my examples the hashtag is sometimes used to give customer feedback about the planes or flight experience. While JetBlue’s hashtag community does not necessarily two-way converse, they definitely seem to be inspired by each other to share their own experiences.
I checked out Kilroy’s to see if they had a hashtag campaign as well but I didn’t find an effective one for building community. One problem was they used widely used hashtags, like #happyhour or #breakfastclub. It would be hard to create a community through a widely used hashtag because the tweets aimed at Kilroys would get lost in the mix amongst all the other tweets using the tag. Another problem was they used random hashtags sporadically. For example, they use #1dollaholla, which could make a good community builder for their $1 drink days, but they don’t use it very often at all. It’s hard to get a hashtag to catch on if you only use it a few times a month. The only continuous and unique hashtag I found was #KOKTrivia, but surprisingly there was barely any use of the hashtag by anyone other than Kilroy’s. Perhaps this is because it doesn’t have a call to action like JetBlue’s hashtag does. (The call to action being to post pictures/tips using the hashtag.) Kilroy’s does not promote the use of their hashtag by others like JetBlue.
Hashtags can be used to bring customers together, but in order to be effective there are some guidelines. Firstly, the hashtag needs to be distinct from others. No one uses “JetBlueSoFly” to talk about anything other than JetBlue, but “happyhour” is used by bars and restaurants across the country. Because of this, it’s hard to create a community around a specific brand. Secondly, the hashtag needs to be used consistently to build awareness and encourage use. Thirdly, a potential guideline is to have a call to action: customers may want a given reason to use a hashtag.