When artists create a hashtag song, it’s not just a stunt to become a trending topic on Twitter; rather, it’s a neat trick to get their content into the multiple online feeds that their fans may digest on a daily basis. It can also provide a way for marketers to grab interesting analytics and produce engaging visualizations, like Will.i.am’s #willpower Twitter visualizer.
The “hashtag album” strategy didn’t necessarily help Will.i.am sell more albums (43,000 to date, according to Nielsen Soundscan), but that’s also because Will.i.am is much more of an artist whose sales are song-based. “Scream and Shout” featuring Britney Spears from “#willpower” has sold over 3 million copies to date, and “#thatPOWER” passed 569,000 units during the May 25 charting week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Whether or not “#willpower” was a blockbuster album was besides the point for the hashtagging movement; Will.i.am is a recognizable artist working with some of the biggest pop stars on the planet, so his relentless hashtag use has naturally inspired other top-line artists to follow in his footsteps.
So what are the takeaways? The volume of increase around a hashtag usually correlates with the relative popularity of the artist involved, which is why the Carey and Lopez songs received much higher volumes of engagement than Busta Rhymes’ latest track. This is, of course, expected. Furthermore, songs with titles are derived by how the hashtag is uniquely used within the social media world — rather than as just a general term — do more to excite fans, because artists are able to own the phrase that their hashtag song title inspires. “#Twerkit” and “#Liveitup” have much higher percent increases in the amount of buzz generated than Mariah’s “#Beautiful,” suggesting that Busta and J. Lo have done more to “claim” those terms, since they were barely used at all before their songs debuted.
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