Looking to start a viral hashtag campaign and increase brand awareness?

Hashtag campaigns are more complicated than they look. A simple mistake in choosing your hashtag, producing content, or promoting your campaign can make your brand a laughingstock or even plain evil in people’s minds. 

💡 Read Creating a Marketing Strategy that Works: Benefits, Steps, Tools

It’s difficult to predict people’s sentiments towards your campaign so it’s a good idea to play it safe and do extensive research and planning before starting your campaign. 

The first step here is analyzing successful campaigns and learning from them. Here are 10 of the most trending hashtag campaigns of all time. 


This campaign aimed to raise awareness and donations for ALS research. Even though the ALS association didn’t start the hashtag, they fully supported the campaign. 

Multiple celebrities and influencers got in on the challenge and poured ice-cold water over their heads to improve awareness about the disease. They also nominated their friends and colleagues and helped accelerate the research for ALS.

At its peak, the ice bucket challenge recorded 70000 tweets a day. 3.7 million videos were uploaded on Instagram, and 28 million users liked or commented on those challenge videos. 

Ice bucket challenge statistics
Ice bucket challenge statistics

As per the official website, over 17 million participated in the challenge to raise $115 million for ALS research. This campaign also significantly impacted future initiatives, as the organization experienced a remarkable 187% increase in worldwide funding.


This hashtag campaign was started by Red Bull in 2014. It encouraged Red Bull customers to snap photos of Red Bull cans on everyday objects and share them on social media. 

This campaign enabled Red Bull to generate a substantial amount of user-generated content (UGC), which was then used for marketing the brand. Many consumers creatively accessorized their cars, motorcycles, cycles, and minitrucks with Red Bull cans and shared their photos on social media.

This campaign was a massive success, prompting other brands, such as Pepsi and Perrier, to jump in and participate. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter received upwards of 10k original photos with the hashtag #PutACanOnIt, most of which were user-generated. 

Read 6 Tips to Write Trending TikTok Hashtags for Your Brand in 2024


This was a charity campaign by Disney in which people posted pictures of themselves with Mickey’s ears along with this hashtag. For every picture posted, Disney donated $5 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation (upto $2 million). 

This turned out to be a very successful campaign for Disney, as over 1.7 million photos were shared with the hashtag. This led to over 400 million impressions on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This campaign also generated an uptick in impressions for the Make a Wish Foundation since they reported a notable 15% increase in their Facebook audience and a 13% boost in their Instagram audience.

This campaign was massively successful and spread to platforms such as Snapchat and YouTube. Furthermore, it helped Disney generate a revenue of $150,000 through the sale of Mickey Ears. Popular celebrities such as Neil Patrick Harris and Whoopi Goldberg endorsed this campaign on their social media accounts. 

Read The Ultimate Guide to Hashtag Analytics in 2024


This was one of the biggest and most notable campaigns ever done by a beverage company. This massively successful campaign was first launched in Australia in 2011. 

Coca-Cola put the phrase “Share a Coke with” followed by a name on their bottles. It encouraged consumers to find bottles with their names on them and share that experience with their friends and family.

The idea was simple – if your name’s Dan, you can search for bottles with the phrase “Share a Coke with Dan” in the aisles of your supermarket. This was done for the 250 most generic first names for each market. This list was later increased to 1000 and also incorporated popular nicknames such as “mom,” “pop,” “sis’, ‘”bro, “and “bestie.”  

This multi-national campaign increased Coke’s consumption in young adults by 7%. The campaign sold upwards of 700,000 bottles and sparked a trend where consumers started collecting sets of bottles with different names. 

shareacoke tweets piechart
#ShareaCoke tweets

This campaign also boosted Coca-Cola’s online presence. As per Study Smarter report, the hashtag #ShareACoke was featured in over 500,000 social media photos, resulting in an astounding 870% surge in website traffic to Coke’s website. Furthermore, Coca-Cola’s Facebook following increased by 25 million. This campaign was so successful that in 2016, Coca-Cola launched a similar campaign called “Share a Coke and a Song with “.   


Calvin Klein launched this online campaign to increase their online engagement. Consumers were prompted to share pictures of themselves wearing Calvin Klein clothing. A video of Justin Bieber and Lara Stone wearing Calvin Klein undergarments was shared on the social media page with the hashtag #MyKelvins. 

Even though the organization gave no real incentive to its consumers (apart from the prospect of being featured on Calvin Klein’s social media pages), many users shared pictures of themselves donning Calvin Klein products. The initial video also went viral with 9 million views. This helped the organization generate massive amounts of user-generated content.  

Due to its popularity, this campaign reached a global audience of 469 million and increased the brand’s fan interaction by 13 million. It also increased its brand following on social channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Later, not just JB, many celebs such as Kaitlyn Jenner, Kendrick Lamar, and Abbey Lee uploaded photos with this hashtag.


Interestingly, this immensely successful campaign wasn’t even started by Audi but rather by a social media user, Joanna Mcvoy. She kept retweeting the hashtag #WantAnR8 on the organization’s social media page, asking them to give her an R8. Months passed, but she received no response. 

Finally, Audi USA replied to her post – would you be free on Aug 27 weekend? She said yes, and the rest was history. Audi executives went to her house and offered her a free ride for her efforts.  

Audi USA Twitter
Twitter conversations

Next year, the organization leveraged this hashtag to offer free R8 rides to eight lucky customers. This grew Audi’s social media account by 200% and increased their customer engagement by 50.4%. Furthermore, it also led to 100,000,000 impressions on Audi’s social media page and generated thousands of online videos on why customers want an R8. 


This was an amazing campaign by Always UK, in which they tried to redefine the phrase “like a Girl.” This campaign was huge for women’s empowerment, and the company’s message deeply resonated with women across the globe. 

The first video posted by Always received 90 million views, and many popular celebrities, such as Maisie Williams, endorsed this hashtag. This campaign also received an Emmy award.  

On YouTube, this campaign video received 185 million views. 76% of the viewers who saw the video changed their opinion to say they didn’t see the phrase as negative anymore. It also led to 4.4 billion social media impressions and 177000 tweets in the first three months. 


This hashtag campaign was started by Apple. In this, the users were asked to take photos from their iPhones and upload them on social media websites such as Twitter, Instagram, etc. Users could also send photos via email. 

This campaign was launched in 2014, and since then, Apple’s marketing team has made it into an annual contest for iPhone users. Apple usually selects a panel of judges to review submissions and select the best ones. The selected images are featured on Apple’s social media page, Apple Newsroom, and Apple.com. They were also posted on 10,000 billboards across the world.  

Media Trustworthiness
Media trustworthiness

This has become one of the most successful UGC campaigns promoting iPhones, leading to 6.5 billion social media impressions. It also has a 95% positive mention rate and 16 million mentions with the hashtag #ShotoniPhone. Currently, there are more than 26 million posts on Instagram with this hashtag. 


When faced with accusations of discrimination in 2016, Airbnb started this campaign to convey its commitment of embracing customers of all ethnicities, orientations, nationalities, and religions. Their message was simple – we don’t discriminate and accept everyone in the Airbnb community without prejudice. 

This campaign was launched at a Super Bowl, and it quickly went viral. During the first half of the Super Bowl game itself, this campaign received 33k tweets. The online campaign received 85 million social media impressions, with an 85% positive sentiment.

The initial video was viewed 14 million times on Facebook and 1.9 million times on YouTube. It also received 500k likes. Moreover, Airbnb pledged $4 million to an international rescue committee to construct housing for 100,000 people over the next five years. 


This campaign was started by Dove to reduce body image issues among young women. It also shed light on how retouching/photoshopping apps are used to distort social media images. This was accomplished through a reverse video of a model applying makeup and retouching her picture for social media. 

This massive campaign was intended to improve self-esteem issues in young girls. It was a huge success and received over 700000 views on YouTube videos and 800000 on Instagram, respectively.  

This campaign also provided a major boost to the brand’s image. Brand affinity for Dove increased by 21%, and sales improved by 11%. The campaign received 6 billion global impressions. 

Lastly, Lizzo’s post about the campaign became her second-most-liked post on Instagram. 

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Why Should You Run A Hashtag Campaign? 

Hashtags are extremely popular on social media. People use them to reach a broader audience especially now that the typical organic reach of social media posts have plummeted. 

There are different reasons for running a hashtag campaign: 

1. Encouraging user-generated content (UGC):

User-generated content is the content produced by users and customers rather than brands and their employees. This kind of content has great potential for engagement and acts as effective testimonials. Through a hashtag campaign, you can encourage your social media followers to produce and share content using your hashtag to increase their posts’ views. 

2. Making your brand viral:

Hashtags can go viral pretty quickly. A catchy hashtag makes people curious, and combined with the right content strategy can make your brand’s name viral as well. 

3. Increasing user engagement:

High user engagement in social media campaigns is a dream come true for marketers. Hashtags have a sense of communal activity around them so people are encouraged to take part and share their opinions. Users also know that using popular hashtags is a great way to get more visibility. 

4. Room for social activism:

Because hashtags are communal in nature, they could be used for social purposes as well. Choosing the right campaign at the right time can produce a lot of positive public opinion on a brand. 

5. Easy integration with other marketing tools:

Running a hashtag campaign can also be a strategic move to integrate with other marketing strategies. For instance, combining the power of hashtags with UPC or barcodes can bridge the gap between online and offline promotions. By embedding hashtags within product barcodes, brands can encourage consumers to scan the product, post about it on social media using the hashtag, and thereby increase its visibility. This dual approach not only boosts online engagement but also offers valuable insights about offline product interactions and preferences.

Read Which is the Best Hashtag Tracker in 2024? Our Top Picks

Tips To Run A Hashtag Campaign:

Hashtags seem pretty much straightforward but as a matter of fact they could act as a double-edged sword. The wrong hashtag could backfire and start a cascade of negative content about your brand. 

To make sure your hashtag campaign will be as effective as you’d expect, keep in mind the following tips: 

1. Choose your hashtag wisely: 

It’s pretty much obvious that the wrong hashtag could make your brand, to say the least, a laughingstock. Hashtags like #susanalbumparty and #molestationnursery are still mentioned as innocent hashtag campaigns gone wrong. 

So make sure your hashtag could not be read in an unintended awkward and funny way. Also, you don’t want to use hashtags that could be considered demeaning and offensive to anyone.

Try to come up with a hashtag that’s easy to remember and spell. Long hashtags are difficult to remember so try to include no more than 3 to 4 words. Funny hashtags or the ones that include positive feelings are picked up pretty quickly by users. 

Keep your ears pricked for any trends or movements that could be related to your brand in any way. Trends could help make your campaign more viral

Read 5 Tips on How to Follow Hashtags on Twitter

2. Create engaging content 

The first thing you should do to lift up your hashtag campaign is creating engaging content. This does not happen overnight. You need to have a lot of experience creating content that resonates with your audience, so a great understanding of your audience is key here. 

Set clear goals, define your audience, do regular sentiment analysis, come up with engaging content ideas, post regularly to increase your content engagement, and keep an eye on how your content performs.

As seen in the examples above, video content is specifically suitable for hashtag campaigns. They’re fun, engaging, and easy to create for users. So make sure to use video in your content strategy and encourage people to share their videos as well.  

To enhance your content and make it even more engaging, consider using a tool like Veed. It is a versatile online video editor with an inbuilt video trimmer function that can help you easily edit and enhance your video content, making it more captivating for your audience.

3. Promote your campaign

Any kind of campaign needs promotion. Hashtag campaigns are no exceptions here, so you need to have a budget to promote your campaign and boost engagement. There are many ways to promote your hashtag campaigns: 

1. Social media ads: just because they’re paid content does not mean that they should be bland. Creating an effective advertising strategy needs as much creativity as an organic one. So the regular steps of researching your audience, creating engaging content, and tracking your results apply here as well. 

Read How to Use Social Listening For Market Research

2. Creator partnerships: partnering up with the right social media content creators is a necessary step for every social media strategy. These creators might have a wider reach and thus more expensive, or they might be less known but still very influential on their audience. Using an affiliate marketing platform is very useful in keeping track of your creator partnerships

3. Brand partnerships: you don’t need to partner up with the competitor brands but the ones with the same audience as yours could be useful partners. Your strategic partnership could be as simple as sharing and recommending each other’s content, or as complicated as co-production. 

4. Promote on other channels: if you’re spending so much time and budget on your hashtag campaign, you don’t want to keep quiet about it. You can promote your hashtag campaign through other channels such as email, social events, news sites, etc.  

Read Campaign Tracking: How to Monitor Your Marketing Efforts with Determ?

4. Measure and refine your strategy

A hashtag campaign is not a set-and-forget strategy. You need to keep getting back to it and refining it as you progress. So keep in mind what you started to achieve with your hashtag campaign. Was it increasing brand awareness, launching a product, promoting an event, improving brand sentiments, etc? 

Depending on your goal, you need to track various metrics such as content impression and reach, brand mentions, post engagement, follower growth, click-through-rate (CTR), etc. 

Read How To Start Tracking Hashtag Performance

A social media monitoring tool such as Determ can help you keep track of your campaign. With Determ, you can 

  • receive regular mentions or hashtags updates so that you can catch trending posts and why people are engaging with them; 
  • Keep track of audience sentiments, that is what channels they most engage with, and what sentiments they have on different topics;
  • Generate detailed data-driven AI-generated reports on different engagement metrics based on your campaign goals. 
  • Automate your workflow for dealing with your mentions as they appear. 
  • And do a lot more. 
Determ tool
Determ feed

If you want to find out how to analyze your hashtag campaign and improve your marketing strategy book a demo with Determ and see how we can help you! 


Hashtag campaigns have a great potential to go viral. Businesses have different goals in mind when using them. They could be used for increasing brand awareness or awareness about a social cause, launching a new product, improving brand sentiments, promoting events, driving traffic to a website, lead generation and sales, etc.  

In this article we analyze some of the most popular hashtag campaigns of all time. Make sure to analyze them and find inspiration for your own hashtag campaigns. 

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