Saturday, February 09, 2013

hashtag marketing

Where have I been? I knew a little about hashtags: how, by putting a hashtag on anything, you could instantly go from a little tweeter in a limited corner of the universe, to one who spoke to an entire community of people who used, and read, all tweets with that hashtag. This applied to Twitter, but not Facebook, or here, but sure, Instagram picked it up, and so did Tumblr, though it didn't cross platforms, yet, as far as I could tell. Thus, at Superbowl time I typed #ravens into a search and got, instantly, everything anyone was saying about the game, and, as they won, Newt Gingrich tweeted in his congratulations to the Ravens, right as I was watching. But, my #ravens tag did not get me instagram pictures, or out of twitter in any way, as far as I could tell. But this could change at the drop of a hat.

So then comes this question of people who #put #a #hashtag #on #every #word, which drives other people crazy, because it reads differently; it reads almost as if you've slapped every word. And in fact, on twitter, you have made every word a separate link, and bought into many obscure communities, for example every tweet in which #on is hashtagged. What kind of community is that? I'm not sure, but I did it, and checked, a little. One community is that of #word, which has a lot of pronouncements, where people wanted to end the tweet with a hashtagged #word, as if to say, this be the truth baby, and I'll slap my truth card on the table. I'm interested by these communities, because they have a kind of random feel to them, yet they could be taken over and become something far more intentional, like #ravens.

Tsotsis, A. (2011, July 5). Entenmann's Hashtag Surfing Fails Hard With #NotGuilty Tweet. TechCrunch.

While looking into hashtags and hashtag marketing I ran across this article, which struck me as interesting. What happened was this: naturally businesses were into the idea of tweeting some self-glorifying thing and getting a hashtagged mark in to reach as many people as possible. So then, it's a matter of finding which hashtags are "trending" (#love is doing pretty well at the moment, and so is #nemo and a few others). Superbowl commercials, interestingly, had dozens of hashtags, like #doritos and such, but there's no evidence that people actually take a hashtag off a superbowl commercial and type into that stream to find out what people are saying about doritos. On the contrary, however, if Doritos were to make a tweet like I #love Doritos, millions would read it and that would be effective marketing. So a cottage industry has developed around getting the right tweets out there that advertise your business, and Entenmann's was onto this, and somebody tweeted right into a #notguilty community but, voila, jumped into outrage over Casey Anthony's verdict. And people were offended, because selling donuts on the outrage over the murder of a child seemed to be kind of, well, inappropriate.

And the industry, since then, has been tempered by a little caution. People still try to hashtag into communities. It's a raucous market of free speech, everyone for themselves, and surely there's a system whereby, in the world of free speech, one can get out on the corner and hawk one's wares. I myself have been keying into the #haiku twitstream, because I like putting things into 5-7-5 form and belting it out into the real-world word marketplace (haiku purists, I'm sure, are offended by the pop nature of all-5-7-5, utter lack of attention to nature or the season). It seems kind of on-the-street poetic to me, and I'm attracted to that, but I don't have any other communities I'm inclined to check into, just offhand. I don't really care about #ravens, for example, and the outright raucous ones, like #kyle (argument about that poor sniper/author who was killed), #guncontrol, #obama, etc., no thanks. It's interesting that some people are inclined to jump into the public word marketplace, and some aren't. Or, that some are enjoying so heavily the same process, only through Instagram and the world of pictures. It's interesting that the hashtag has found its way so thoroughly into Facebook, where it's entirely worthless (as an aggregator - maybe it's not so worthless, just purely as a communicator of an attitude or an aside). And mark my words, the day will come soon enough that it works across platforms.

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