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Hashtag targeting comes of age, driving mobile marketing opportunities: report

The use of hashtags is popular with social media users, many of whom are engaging with the content categorization tool via their mobile devices and are open to marketing campaigns built around hashtags, according to a new report from RadiumOne.

The report found that 58 percent of respondents use hashtags on a regular basis, and 71 percent of regular hashtag users do so from their mobile devices. With 51 percent saying they would share hashtags more often if they knew advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product-based hashtags, the report points to an opportunity for marketers to incorporate hashtags into their strategy.

?The big news is that hashtags are becoming part of the way that consumers share and communicate especially from mobile devices,? said Doug Chavez, vice president of marketing at RadiumOne, San Francisco. ?Over 18 billion things are shared ever day, and hashtags are becoming a ubiquitous way to flag stuff that you want people to know about that is meaningful to you or someone else.

?Hashtag targeting has just come of age,? he said. ?Marketers need to be taking into account how they can use hashtags as a way to find and target an audience - that is something they haven?t really done before.

?Hashtag targeting at the moment of intent when people are talking about a thing from a geolocation perspective ? that is huge.?

Content discovery
Hashtags enable social media users to vocalize their tastes and preferences at scale in a real-time fashion. 

They are used primarily for identifying trends and content discovery, with 30.5 percent of respondents to the RadiumOne survey saying hashtags are good for identifying trends, and 20.6 percent saying they are good for finding brands and products.

Hashtags are also widely recognized, with the five most notable Twitter hashtags generating upwards of 11.7 million mentions over the last year.

Marketers have recently started to embrace hashtags in their marketing efforts. For example, during the recent marketing frenzy around February?s Super Bowl game, more than half of the Super Bowl ads contained a hashtag reference, per RadiumOne.

Hyundai, a RadiumOne client, used hashtag targeting campaigns during the Super Bowl to drive continued video views after its commercials aired. The results show that 70 percent of consumers who clicked on its ad ended up watching the full advertisement from beginning to end, pointing to the influence hashtags can have on viewing.

?As an advertiser, if you are targeting these audiences across mobile devices and you are using hashtag targeting to understand what their active conversation is about and layering on top of that geolocation, you are going to find more opportunity to reach those people at the moment when they are making the decision,? Mr. Chavez said.

Rewarding the right behavior
A key takeaway from the report is that if advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product based hashtags, 50.6 percent would share hashtags more often. For example American Express is providing consumers with special offers for tweeting special hashtags.

Additionally, 17.6 percent would post a promotion on their social network if rewarded by a marketer for doing so; 17.6 percent would follow that brand and associated content, and 14.2 percent would make mobile and online purchases more often.

Other key findings from the report include that 43 percent of respondents think hashtags are useful, and 34 percent use them to search or follow categories and brands of interest. Additionally, 41 percent use hashtags to communicate personal ideas and feelings; 14.8 percent use them to re-direct users to external Web content, and 10.4 percent use them to promote corporate or social events.

When users see hashtags, 41.8 percent click on them to explore new content; 24.8 percent use them in their own posts if they are meaningful; 18.3 percent go directly to the brands? or person's site, and 15.1 percent share the content with their network.

Social taglines
To make better use of hashtags, RadiumOne recommends that advertisers think of hashtags as their social taglines and use them to rally consumers around a specific cause or event, increase brand exposure and help keep consumers aware of the latest products.

The survey also supports the idea that women 45 years and older are active social media users, with women accounting for 71 percent of respondents to the RadiumOne survey while 44 percent were middle-aged.

?As more folks that are outside of the typical 18 to 35 age range for mobile continue to use mobile devices, the amount of engagement and the amount of opportunity that that community represents has largely been untapped,? Mr. Chavez said. ?These are people who are retired and many of them have the income to spend and people want to reach that audience.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York