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Hash behind our conversations

This year, we all celebrated hashtag’s 10-year anniversary. We showered it with gifts of twitter trending, media coverage and marketing pandits all over the world admiringits success.

Amidst the celebration, we thought it would be interesting to understand consumer mindset behind this social media innovation, understand what do popular hashtags say about the culture of the society and most importantly, hacks for a brand to make the hashtags work for them.

As you may it was Chris Messina, an entrepreneur who found the use case of Hashtag-ing to organize his twitter conversations.

At present, 125 million hashtags are shared each day on Twitter alone. Take into account its popularity on other social networks like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, numbers multiply.

So how did a tool for completing requests on customer service phone calls became a necessity of our digitized vocabulary? Some of the reasons are –

a) Simplified experience – To our FOMO generation, it allows to quickly understand the gist of a conversation in a glance. Albeit someone hasn’t hashtag-ed the entire post  Various researches have shown that consumers today want more streamlined experience. Needless to say that the brands that will enable uncluttered simplified experience to increase efficiencies in the user’s life will take a larger mindshare. This tool is another step towards simplified conversations.

b) Empowers a user to find her tribe– Culturally, we have always wanted to be a part of a community. Digital world enables easier access topeers far and wide, who share our passions and views. The power of hashtag-ing is that it allows people to quickly search &connect with each other on similar world-views, values & beliefs. It also lends weight to their voice as more numbers gather around.

c) This brings me to next point. Hashtag gives a voice to user which when used well, can empower the brands to partner, co-create, empathize or build communities of customers around them. But it can be equally harmful for the brand, especially during crisis. We saw how community recently gathered around the crisis faced by an airline recently which multiplied many times over on digital. Though the community formation is triggered by different factors, hashtags add fuel to the fire. Therefore, brands must be cautious when they join online conversations and shouldn’t ever appear as though they are not really listening or are flippant about some issue related to them.

d) Like I mentioned, it is a great tool which can aid companiesto partner their customer to co-create their future. Strong association with negative or positive hashtags can rub off on the brand imagery. Imagine a fashion brand owning #OOTD (outfit of the day) or a fitness brand owning #EverydayAthleteor #FitFam. Most interesting aspect of hashtag’s origin story is that the idea came from a user of Twitter, not from its executives or developers. In fact, many elements of Twitter originated outside of the company including the word ‘tweet’.

Not only do hashtags tell us a lot about the brands, news, trends, social culture, the mere usage of this symbol online gives us a deeper picture of evolving consumer priorities and behaviors.

“So what do you think popular hashtags of 2016 say about India?

Passion, curiosity and emotions that bind us through games, key events and of course, nationalistic pride.”

Hashtag

How to hashtag? Quick Hacks

a) Keep it thematic – easy to understand & around the core message.

b) Should be in the interest of consumer, not a brand promotion.

c) No Jargons please

d) There should be limited number. Just because its free, doesn’t mean we need to load it up. Beats the very reason for hashtag-ing. Ideally keep 2-4 hashtags with any conversation.

e) Take advantage of popular hashtags to participate in the conversations that users are finding important.

f) Be consistent – keep using the hashtags again to create mind recall and own a space.

Ainara Kaur

Ainara Kaur is the Chief Executive Officer of Canvilicious, a digital branding & marketing agency.
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