My look at adverts, marketing techniques and social media that have that something special.

The Power of the #

Since 2006, when Twitter was created, the use of the hashtag has spread like wildfire. Implemented to categorise topics and tweets, it has now become the mark of social media, with its influence being used by other sites including Tumblr, Instagram and now Facebook. In the age of social media, the hashtag is another trick for online marketing.

The ease it allows users to search these sites and divide our ramblings, from sharing what we had for #breakfast, or letting people that we are #jobhunting. The hashtag has simplified searching for topics and made the process easy.

The trends as I write this post. Note #cucumberfollowspree

The trends as I write this post. I’m unsure as to what #cucumberfollowspree means.

TV shows and films create their own hashtags for when people are talking about their work, combining the world of visual and digital media. Not only does this count as free market research for them, it also gives them a chance at some free advertisement. (Searching my Twitter for #TheVoiceUK is an example of this…) With shows such as the The Only Way Is Essex, they have been shortened to TOWIE  on the Twittersphere, which has become a known abbreviation for the show.

In my first year of University, aside of the BBC app on my phone, I used hashtags to make myself aware of any major news stories I should have known about. It sounds strange, but it really worked. Reading multiple views on the matters at hand from people all over the world gave me a broader view than if I had picked up my mother’s copy of The Daily Mail.

There’s an issue with over hash-tagging though, and this stems from Instagram. We all have that person we follow who seems to think that a picture is worth a thousand hashtags. It’s not. Fortunately Twitter’s 140 character limit stops this debauchery of a perfectly useful piece of punctuation.

This is a photo of grass. I wouldn't count one out of the twenty-nine #'s relevant.

This is a photo of grass. I wouldn’t count one out of the twenty-nine #’s relevant.

My main prompt for this post is the inclusion of hashtags into Facebook. Initially I was horrified, and was pretty vocal about it to my friends too. I feel an awkward obligation to be friends with people on Facebook, mainly out of politeness. Yet on Twitter I can happily unfollow someone without that same pang of guilt I’d get from unfriend an acquaintance off Facebook.  I am far more likely now to unfriend someone on Facebook now if they hashtag to the excessively, or irritatingly.

The idea that you can see what all your friends are saying about #GameofThrones is neat though. I’m interested to see how it would work round election time too, and see if people publicly announce their vote. Yet, due to Facebook’s privacy settings, you will only be sharing with your friends which may not have the same appeal for certain people… #selfie

My main hunch about the hashtag inclusion is Facebooks way of brining in a little more profit from brands. It works well on Twitter and now when Facebook introduce trends, which is more than likely, I’m sure we will see promoted updates and trends which have been paid for by companies. I’m not against the #FaceTag at all, (that’s what I’m calling it), though I think it’s still too early to form a solid opinion on the change to the site. How many times have people complained about Facebook’s changes and then adapted? One individual seems very against the idea though, creating the group This is not Twitter. Hashtags don’t work here.

The hashtag has a lot of power though, especially in the hands of the right people. Manchester based PR and advertising agency BJL cleverly hijacked an industry awards show. Not only did they set up a wi-fi hotspot titled “Join BJL” they also put stickers all around the event, and trophies, saying #JOINBJL. Whether this worked or not isn’t as important, but it certainly brought attention to the company. Personally I loved the idea of this and its originality.


The right hashtag and right audience can make a message viral in a matter of hours and social media is the perfect platform for this. This is where I see the most potential for companies now to spread their fingers and tweet.

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This entry was posted on June 23, 2013 by in Digital, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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