Hashtags are a versatile way to communicate. It can be used as a way to categorize topics, a search function, or to group comments together to create a cohesive narrative of events. Hashtags on Twitter are especially useful in sporting events for the simple reason that sports are live and televised, and bring a lot of eyeballs to one place at one time.
Hashtags are a vital part of the marketing tool – that’s an obvious statement. And sports marketers should look to use hashtags for many of the same reasons why marketers use them: to find an audience, to develop a community, and establish their insights within said community. Sports have five distinct hashtags that can be separated into two categories: those used within live games or events, and those used leading up to live games to build excitement. The five unique reasons to use hashtags are below:
Event hashtags: This deals with big events like the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the World Series, or a draft. This deals with an immediate, live event so all uses of hashtags must be timely. The big advantage of big events like the Super Bowl is that many people who normally don’t watch sports tune in to be apart of the culture. With so many eyes in one place, and the ability to impact people who are not your usual audience, this is a big opportunity to expand your brand across genres.
Game hashtags: Each specific game will have its own individual hashtag. For example, if the Dallas Mavericks play the New York Knicks, the resulting hashtag will be #DALvsNY, or something combining the two teams. This is an effective time to use hashtags as you not only hit fans of your team, but fans of the opposing team as well. If a game is played on national TV, the channel will be thrown in as well, resulting in something like: #DALvsNYTNT. Either way, find the hashtag for the relevant game, and tweet away.
Hashtags leading up to the game: Do you want to reach sports fans of a specific team? Do you have an interesting insight or observation of something you noticed the night before? Hashtags leading up to games usually deal with the team itself, and therefore the hashtag is usually the city or the team name. As opposed to the two categories above, this hashtag will be slower as your target audience is most likely as work. But targeting people bored at work checking in on Twitter is effective as well. Save your insights for the morning after a game, and let it grow. Be known as the person that has something different and new to say, and you’ll be a standout in no time at all.
General hashtags for conversations: This category deals with the fallout good or bad or something particularly unique taking place in a game, or off the court. These are used to get players into all-star games – the NBA used #NBABallot to denote fans voting players into the game. This is an effective way to use hashtags because it crosses all categories of fans, and you can reach fans of every team.
Individual player hashtags: this category plays off the category above. Let’s say a specific player is mounting a campaign for an All-Star game – that player may have his own hashtag (in fact, with some ingenuity, you may be the one that starts the hashtag). A good example is earlier this year, NBA fans were searching for a nickname for Kevin Durant. A fan came up with #slimreaper, and it stuck on Twitter. If you can take advantage of these situations, then it’s safe to say that you are on the right path for social media, and viral success.