Smart #Hashtags offers Twitter marketing Holy Grail

Smart Communications has just launched a pioneering mobile advertising service utilizing Twitter hashtags to potentially convert trending topics to actual sales.

Dubbed Smart #Hashtags, users who post Twitter updates using a predetermined hashtag are rewarded with gifts and perks from partner brands who avail of the program – anything from a drive-to-store coupon offer, a discount announcement or a product giveaway, among others.

Hashtags posted by a large number of users over a short period of time are included in a coveted list called Twitter’s Trending Topics that appear on the sidebar of a user's Twitter feed.

The telco attempts to turn what was initially a tool to organize and search popular tweets faster to what it calls as the “Holy Grail for digital marketers.”

“Companies have always felt the constant challenge of converting their online campaigns to offline purchases,” Leah Besa-Jimenez, Media Convergence Group Head at Smart.

“Smart #Hashtags has demonstrated that we can help brands finally transform online conversation to offline conversion, leading online consumers directly to the offline path to purchase,” she adds.

Pilot studies on the way

An unnamed multinational fast-moving consumer goods company has recently tested the service for an event. Using the brand’s event hashtag, Smart registered and enrolled both the Twitter accounts and mobile numbers of visitors to the program.

Subscribers then received an SMS leading them to a CRM activity in exchange for 20 free texts to Smart and Talk ‘N Text subscribers. Without citing numbers, Smart said the response was “overwhelming,” yielding substantial click-through rates that were above industry standards.

Besa-Jimenez announced that more pilot tests are scheduled in the coming weeks for Smart #Hashtags, saying that a number of brands have already expressed interest.

The program gives brands access to 70 million subscribers under the Smart, Sun, and Talk ‘N Text networks for their marketing campaigns.

Called the “social networking capital of the world, ” the country currently ranks 10th worldwide in terms of Twitter adoption with more than 9.5 million registered users as of 2012, according to social media monitor Semiocast.