While doing some casual browsing, I recently stumbled on a model showing how the world’s best brand builders seek to continuously iterate with consumers/3rd parties as they build powerful brands.

As the chart highlights, brands/consumers/influencers are in a continual iterative dialog on social platforms – with all stakeholders adding meaning to the brand with every consumer generated or branded post.
(chart courtesy of Grant McCracken).

Visual Brand Tag

Increasingly, consumers are choosing to “return meaning” to the brand via the use of branded hashtags in their posts – especially on Instagram.  Instagram has become the #1 channel of choice for “brand tagging” by consumers.  And, hashtags have become a crucial way for people to discover and engage with brand related content on the platform.

So, why do consumers return meaning to brands by adding branded hashtags to their posts on social platforms?

i)  Just sharing:  40% simply want to share news around their latest purchases with friends.
ii) Love for a product/service:  34% of consumers post pictures referencing a brand because they REALLY enjoyed the product or service. True brand love inspires them.
iii) Cause I got a little something:  Interestingly, entering a contest (14%) is the least popular motive.

Given that the primary motivation to #hashtag a brand is authentic (“just sharing” & love) companies that find ways to genuinely inspire consumers around what to post stand to win big — not only in terms of higher returns on their owned/paid social activities — but also in terms of driving more meaning around the brand within culture.