Don’t try and force weird hashtags on people, Instagram executive warns marketers

contiki no regrets hashtagMarketers have been urged not to “force something weird and trademarked” on customers when trying to come up with a hashtag for a new campaign by the head of brand development for Instagram Australia.

Speaking at today’s Travel Marketing Summit in a session on social media Sophie Blachford said it was often a “very slow burn” for brands to get their hashtags accepted.

On the same panel Katrina Barry, managing director of youth travel brand Contiki, admitted the brand had “agonised” over whether they should insert the brand name into its brand tagline and popular hashtag #noregrets, which has taken off in its target demographic.

She said the brand had now migrated 95 per cent of its marketing spend to digital channels, with around a third of it on social.

“Where we’ve landed on that is it’s part of everyday vernacular and becomes something everyone rallies around,” Barry told the audience.

“Where we’ve got customers on tour its part of the language and culture. So we kept it even though it messes up our feed and messes up our metrics.  We now ask them to add Contiki under it which they will do because they are brand advocates.”

She added: “I get an email from someone every month saying they’ve got our brand tagline #noregrets tattooed on their body. That’s going to last a long time.”



Instagram’s Blatchford warned it was “very hard” to change user behaviour and “get them using a hashtag not in popular lexicon”.

“One of the best examples I’ve seen of a brand getting a hashtag into use is Herschel Supply a backpack company which has the hashtag #welltravelled,” she added.

“They spent a lot of time seeding this with influencers and promoting that through other channels and this is the hashtag – they’ve been working on it for two or three years and it’s getting traction now. It’s a very slow burn and if it’s a long weird one people won’t do it. Don’t force something weird and trademarked on people.”

Addressing the way Contiki, which targets the 18-35 demographic with packaged tours, has changed its marketing spend Barry said: “We now have 95 per cent of our budget as digital marketing spend, and spend very little on traditional forms of media.

“A large proportion of that is towards social. It’s not just what goes on paid social but on content as well – we spend an equal amount of time helping other people create content and share experiences.

“We spend a lot of time on the content development and consider that pat of our social budget as well. No-one’s gone fully social yet, I’ve heard businesses talking about 25-30 per cent of budgets going on that, and we’ll be getting towards that.”

Alex Hayes


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