The move has however reiterated that Twitter has made hashtags part of a broader conversation, or so say industry leaders who have, over a period of time, created campaigns using ‘#’ to get some of the best results in terms of encouraging audience engagement and then gauging consequent response.Aliza Knox, Twitter
When Aliza Knox, Managing Director, Online Sales – APAC for Twitter says that at the heart of every conversation is a tweet, it is not too difficult for her to prove her point, given examples of politicians such as Barack Obama or closer home, SB Yudhoyono, who use the micro-blogging platform to not only announce decisions to run for elections for instance or voicing views on an issue, but to also connect better with their ‘audiences’.
For Knox, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Twitter, for her, connects people on topics of interest and allows them to participate in real time. Marketers such as Geo-Tek and Hippo have used Twitter by creating relevant hashtags, to listen to their consumers and deliver better service. She gives a statistic to point out how Twitter has evolved to be an effective marketing tool. “When you listen, 70 per cent issues on Twitter are to do with products, 66 per cent requests about the company and another 60 per cent on consumer interactions. And you can see that when a company is listening and responding, it ends up with a very satisfied customer,” she said.
If at the heart of every conversation is a tweet, tweets from consumers at large bring a perspective because of hashtags, which define the subject of a discussion. The SingTel campaign for its 4G service is a case in point. SingTel launched #Need4GSpeed to popularise its 4G service, and went to the extent where comedian Hossan Leong took the handle for a day. For another similar campaign, #Fastest4GSpeed, the brand allowed comedian Dee Kosh to take over its handle.
Miguel Bernas, Director, Digital Marketing – APAC, SingTel observed that when a brand such as SingTel has to get people interested in ‘poor’ topics like 4G, it has to think outMiguel Bernas, SingTel
of the box and at some level, let the people it partners with, do what they do best. “We wanted to get consumers involved and wanted to know what they wanted to do with 4G. We partnered with the best celebs and let take over twitter handle for a single day. And when you work with someone like Hossan Leong for instance, you have to let him to do his thing,” observed Bernas.
But the real challenge of the campaign was managing the unpredictable. For the campaign, SingTel and its team was working in taking the ideas it was getting and then turning them around into video content, comedy sketches and so on, doing it all in real time. “There is no way you can foresee every possible contingency and it is very hard to predict everything. But you know the results are there, when you get it right,” said Bernas.
Emphasising on the role that hashtags play in such a conversation, Bernas said, “Before we took on the campaign, there was a lot of deliberation on the platform we wanted to partner with for it. The advantage in using something like hashtags is that you can track all conversations at one place. And this can help you in many ways, including addressing the demands of responding in real time.” Like many others, Bernas is familiar with what the combination of Twitter and hashtags can do, but he is no hurry to endorse what it would look like on a platform like Facebook that has just announced that it would be adding clickable hashtags in its conversations.
Komli Media’s Matt Sutton brings a different viewpoint to the table. He pointed out, “How many times have we ended up using hashtags on Facebook wall anyway or even in text messages just because of the habit. Twitter has made hashtags part of a broader conversation and Facebook has understood and embraced that.”Matt Sutton, Komli Media
For Sutton, the 3.0 version of the web, which he dubs as the curated web, where people follow brands, and content that they expect to get access to, on a real time basis. This allows them to bring a brand into their own environment, share it and form an opinion about it. “A social media enabled world has the capability to pull people in or pull them out of the marketing funnel. It is more like a pinball machine today, where the whole form and opinion of the content would change depending on the way one interacts with brand advertisers. But essentially, brands have become the centre of the dialogue. We see brands trending and people engage with the trend, so the success of an initiative depends both on the content it is used with and the manner it is used in,” summed up Sutton.