Gone are the days when this symbol, #, was just a pound sign on a land-line phone. The other night my mom called me to talk about the fact that Jack Williams was retiring from being a full-time news anchor on WBZ. She had seen a “pound sign” on the screen during the news about his retirement and wanted to know how she could use that to tell him not to retire. In trying to explain to her what a hashtag was “(on social media sites such as Twitter), a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic” and how she would need her own Twitter account to do this AND would need to tweet it, I finally convinced her that sending an email to the studio would be more her speed.
However, what can we learn about the world around us from #hashtags? I think the most recent viral example of the ALS #IceBucketChallenge is the perfect, relevant example. Not only have celebrities and politicians gotten involved, it has raised a huge amount of money and awareness for ALS. #ALS and #IceBucketChallenge were trending, meaning that people were talking about it.
That’s what it’s all about, right? Getting brand awareness and consumers talking about you. The hashtag allows users who are not following you to see your tweets and content that you put out on various social media sites. Simply put, consumers are only “one hashtagged word away from possibly being seen by thousands, if not millions of people through social media.” Samsung recently realized that, not only could they help out a good cause, but they could get some viral press in the process. I give you the Samsung ice bucket challenge:
It has yet to be seen what type of impact this might have for the company, but it has already been viewed almost 3.8 million times and garnered over 4,100 comments in the last 4 days since it was posted.
Going back to my example about the # on the TV, Nielsen’s Twitter TV Ratings show that an average of 50 times more people see tweets about TV shows than actually generate the tweets. Sometimes the ratio is much larger. “During the week ending Sept. 29, 2013, for example, “Breaking Bad” was the most talked about show on Twitter, generating 1.2 million Tweets by 601,400 authors. Those tweets, however, delivered 129.6 million impressions.”
According to searchenginewatch.com, “The hashtag is more than a collection of characters – it is a tool to be used to reach new audiences, connect like-minded people, and facilitate streams of conversation.” So make sure that your clients are getting in on the conversation and jumping on the viral bandwagon where they can!
It’s also important to note that hashtags are meant to call out key words…make sure you or your clients don’t #overhashtag because that #definitely #defeats the #purpose: