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The Hashtag Phenomenon


Remember when # was merely a “hash symbol”, and it was most notably seen on your phones and used as a battleground for x’s and o’s (tic-tac-toe)? Well those days are long gone. Now it is known as the ever-popular “hashtag.” It was first coined by Stowe Boyd in 2007, and has become a phenomenon worth more than a ton of gold. It has made it easier for people to search for news and information about a particular product, campaign or event.

In itself, the hashtag has managed to generate a large amount of awareness through the Social Medias out there. It all started with Twitter, which was then followed by Instagram, and later, Facebook. They have all adapted it and allowed people to click on the hashtag, in order to look for any relevant news or discussions regarding what the hashtag is promoting.

The hashtag has created a channel for people to converse in. It has been a consolidation for movements and causes, making them a force to be reckoned with. It has become a form of viral marketing where everyone and anyone can hop on. Make it relatable, interactive, and ultimately, for a cause. After that, just leave it be and watch the magic unfold.

After a hostage incident in Australia, many Australian-Muslims were afraid to go out on their own, especially when the hostage-taker displayed an Islamic flag in the café’s window. However, the Australians have banded together on Twitter with the hashtag, “#IllRideWithYou”. The response was massive, and many Australians picked up on it. And according to Topsy, a social media analytics website, said that there were more than 150,000 tweets with the hashtag in a matter of 12 hours, as Australians seek to assist their fellow Muslim countryman from any kind of backlash they may potentially receive.

Although hashtags can work in your favour, you can also end up being on the other end of it.

In Lebanon, a group of young Lebanese activists started the hashtag “#YouStink”. This hashtag was devised for a rally they were organising, after the Lebanese government decided to close their main landfill, which led to piles of garbage mounting in Beirut’s streets. Through the hashtag, a website was made in order for the people of Lebanon to track news and updates about the event, as it takes information from Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, and Lebanese blogs.

And on a lighter note, hashtags has also paved the way for people to interact with the entertainment industry.

On the build up to the Academy Awards, The Representation Project came up with the campaign, along with the hashtag, “#AskHerMore”, for the red carpet coverage of the event. It was made to bring to an end the gender stereotyping placed on the red carpet, with journalists always asking actresses the ever so mundane question, “Who are you wearing?” Twitter consumers hopped on to it and were given the opportunity to engage with the actresses, with an assistance of a website that had a list of actresses, together with the reporters interviewing them, so that they can direct their questions to a particular celebrity. Although the Red Carpet was made to promote designer dresses, the #AskHerMore campaign managed to give it a bit more depth than just that.

Hashtags has become such a massive phenomenon, that if you do not place one on your brand, product, or even campaign, you’ll be dismissing a massive access point to the public. Creating a hashtag allows people to easily look for information and keep up to date with that which you are promoting.

Hashtags will assist your brand and help it generate the awareness and traffic that it truly deserves. And if it’s powerful enough, it may just create a bandwagon effect, and boost your brand awareness up a few notches! Keep it short, simple, and sweet, and people can’t help but to notice it.

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