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The Power of the Hashtag in Promoting Music (and Just About Anything Else)

by Kyle Lacy  |  
September 18, 2013

We use hashtags to contribute to industry conversations and clever Twitter memes. Some people use hashtags #to #randomly #emphasize #words #needlessly. If #hashtags were human, they would have already written a song about their plight and blasted it over the #iHeartRadio airwaves.

Hashtags do not get enough credit. Hashtags are powerful, useful tools for marketing, communication, and driving engagement. In fact, almost every social network has implemented a hashtag system over the past couple of years, and hashtags are an excellent way to break through the noise of the Internet to better communicate with a valuable audience.

If I were to pinpoint the one industry that has the most potential to harness the power of hashtags, it would be the music industry—which is already known for its innovative digital marketing techniques (for example, note the smartphone-app release of Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail).

So, I researched the music industry's best examples of hashtag usage across Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Use these examples as hashtag inspiration to market your music and improve your audience's experience.

1. Hijack a hashtag

In the right context, it is completely acceptable to hijack popular hashtags to promote your own music. The people using the hashtag are already interested in the musical style and artist represented by the hashtag, so they're prime candidates to be fans of your music as well.

This image shows an example of Team Hollywood Ending hijacking a Tennessee Kids (#TheTNKids) hashtag to share their music with people following the same hashtag:

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Kyle Lacy is senior manager of content marketing and research at ExactTarget.

LinkedIn: Kyle Lacy

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  • by Tony Kadysewski Wed Sep 18, 2013 via web

    For a #HashTag campaign reported to be successful in retail and point-of-purchase see...

    For 30+ examples of QR Code use plus a supporting Pinterest Board see...

  • by Rob Willox Wed Sep 18, 2013 via web

    Because the are pretty widely used and even sometimes abuses on Twitter there as the assumption, when Facebook introduced them, was that posts, of any type, would attract more activity than those without as the #hashtags were clicked to consume additional information.

    Recent research by Edgerank Checker over the period of a month showed otherwise: posts with #hashtags have less Viral Reach than posts without #hashtags:

    Has anyone done any alternative studies which shows different results?

  • by Lou Covey Wed Sep 18, 2013 via web

    Rob Willox, I've done my own studies and validated the EdgeRank findings. Three politicians came to me to advise them on the use of social media, specifically to find why their FB numbers were dropping off so fast. I found that they had all started using hashtags both copiously and frugally in August, when their numbers started to drop. I saw that their sites had not only dropped dramatically in organic shares and reach and that unlikes had begun to rise. One particular candidate had seen her like growth come to a screeching halt, even though more people were liking the page than any month previously, but the number of unlikes was so great it flatlined her growth. I advised all three to limit their number of hashtag use to once a week and settle on three specific subjects. Two of the candidates took my advice, one eliminating has tags altogether. The third that rejected the advice is now dropping in traffic more dramatically. The one that eliminated hashtags is growing by an average of 15 percent a week, while the other that uses them sparingly is growing at 5 percent.
    Amazingly enough, none of the candidates is using Twitter at all, where the use of hashtags might be more effective.

  • by Steven Cravis Wed Sep 18, 2013 via web

    Hi Kyle, Thanks for this very informative and helpful article. I'm a musician/composer and I want to find out what I need to do to integrate my twitter page @stevencravis #stevencravis so that searching my name within yields a musician result of 'Steven Cravis' on the left side (musicians found within twitter music appear on the left, when using a computer, users appear on the right, after searching from the magnifying glass icon in the upper right area). It's somewhat of a mystery so far to independent (and maybe even some major label!) artists. Thanks for your help. I wish Twitter would provide a 'twitter musician' account portal to get this information or expedite integration.

  • by Dan mazzini Fri Sep 20, 2013 via web

    @Rob & Lou - Hashtags are typical of public discussion, while Facebook is mostly about personal relationships. Facebook wants to eat Twitter's "public" pie, but it's not an easy transition at all. And, if successful, it could even backfire, should FB dilute its brand as the go-to place for sharing with the people that are closer to us.

  • by Steven Cravis Wed Oct 9, 2013 via web

    This is a follow up. I was able to solve the puzzle and now there is a page for me at with an audio player of my original music and shows which other artists I follow.

  • by Gracious Store Wed Oct 9, 2013 via web

    Hash-tags are very powerful way to gain exposure in social media, if you use it correctly

  • by Mary Gonzalez Mon Mar 10, 2014 via web

    Great article! It inspire me a lot. Hash-Tag is most powerful way to gain exposure in social media. On twitter by using Hash-tags like #clothing you spread information very easily. I'm a musician & I personally use this Hash_tag on twitter to explore new updates about my albums.

  • by Helen Wed Nov 4, 2015 via web

    Excellent and very helpful article. Thank you!

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