Summer 2015
Hashtags Boost Holiday Retail Sales

Tips to implement hashtags into your social media campaigns.

You’ve heard of dashing through the snow. But have you ever thought of “hashing” through the snow? The holiday season is one of the top times for retailers to run promotions to boost sales and profits, now social media has given them a new tool to help move product off the shelves: the hashtag.

What is a hashtag?

For those of you wondering what a hashtag is, it is a highlighted keyword in a tweet, post or photo caption that helps your message get found in an online search. A hashtag always begins with the pound symbol (#) and can be a single word or a phrase using no spaces or punctuation.

For instance, if you wanted to let everyone know that you were selling hot cocoa and offering a buy one, get one free deal, you might use the hashtags #BOGO and #hotcocoa so that anyone who searches these terms on social media sites will receive your message in their search results.

Hashtags can also be used to start a conversation or join an existing conversation. If you are having a holiday open house called “Santa’s Shindig,” you could create the hashtag #santasshindig2015 and encourage customers to use the hashtag when mentioning their shopping trip or purchases. Anyone who clicks on that hashtag will then see all of the posts that included it. Similarly, if you see that the hashtag #holidaywish is trending (being used frequently) in your feed, you can post using the same hashtag to join in the conversation and get your message seen.


So, why should retailers include hashtags in their holiday marketing message? Using hashtags to help customers find you more easily means more traffic to your social accounts, more traffic to your website and more sales—particularly if you also sell online. As an example, if you are located in Texas and are hoping to sell more handmade jewelry this holiday season, you could use the hashtags #Texas and #handmadejewelry. A customer looking for handmade jewelry for their mother is likely to search for “handmade jewelry Texas,” and when they do, there is a good chance they could find you. Even someone located in Massachusetts could find you using the #handmadejewelry hashtag, and if you sell online, you may have just led your next customer right to your e-commerce site.

Best practices

iStock_000049664740_FullHashtags are extremely popular on most social media sites, including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, and your customers are used to seeing them in their newsfeeds. But that does not mean that there is no such thing as too many hashtags.

Flooding a post with 20 hashtags may seem like a good way to get seen in newsfeeds, but hashtag abuse makes the post seem sales-y and is a common tool that spammers use to get useless content seen. Use just one or two hashtags per post, especially on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Instagram is a bit different, where using five to 10 hashtags is a good amount to gain additional followers and get your holiday messages seen.

Also, make sure you do your research before using a hashtag. Some hashtags seem innocent at first but turn out to be trending because of a social issue or natural disaster. For instance, you may see #thebomb trending and want to comment that your new arrivals are “#thebomb,” but you should be sure that the hashtag isn’t trending because of a tragic bombing. Many brands, large and small, have made the mistake of misusing a serious hashtag to try and fit their marketing messages.

How to hashtag the holiday 

Here are a few ideas to incorporate hashtags into your holiday message:

#As a specialty store, you are filling a specific niche. Find out what hashtags are popular in your industry
and work them in.

#Don’t be afraid to join in on viral hashtags, like the #IceBucketChallenge.

#Don’t turn words into hashtags unless you think your customers are searching for that phrase.

#Get creative with custom hashtags. If you sell holiday wreaths, you can use hashtags like, “#ongrandmothershousetheygo.”

Use hashtags responsibly, and they will bring you new customers and higher sales numbers. Users will appreciate you making their gift search easier, and you will appreciate that of all of their retail options, they chose you! Now happy hashtagging to all #andtoallagoodnight.

Crystal Vilkaitis

Crystal Vilkaitis is the owner of Crystal Media, a company dedicated to helping independent retailers market online. Vilkaitis started Social Edge, an online membership group exclusive to retailers looking to gain an edge over competition using online tools. For more information visit
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