For 10 years we’ve been missing out spaces, skipping on grammar and re-reading 65 character words trying to figure out the sentence hidden within. Once, a button used purely to find out the serial number of your 3210, the increase in the use of the hash key has been extraordinary. It’s been a marketing revelation, nightmare and source of great entertainment simultaneously. Here’s a look at all three from over the years:
Hash brownie points:
At its base value, the hashtag connects communities across the world; people who could never meet in any walk of life, yet share the same thoughts, can communicate with each other. It has been effectively used to show solidarity against disaster and evil, and #blacklivesmatter is currently and rightfully the most used hashtag of all time. And whilst the use of the hashtags has been monumental in raising awareness, the results seen by #IceBucketChallenge make this the standout campaign. We all know the story, and we all know the recent breakthroughs made in finding a cure – in its various forms, it was hashtagged (*adds hashtagged to dictionary*) over 4 million times, and undoubtedly these breakthroughs, and the $115 million raised, would not have been possible without the button in question.
Making a hash of it:
This has been the focus of many articles this week, and as this is a work forum, I’ll have to let you find most the goofs yourself due to suitability issues (we’re looking at you SuBo and Research in Motion), however we’re going to highlight a major brand getting it wrong. McDonalds, the restaurant chain subject to documentaries and Panoramas, asked for the general public to share their #McDstories. It’s always a huge risk when asking for direct customer feedback in a public forum, and McDonalds were very short-sighted in that respect.
And of course, when a certain hashtag brings out the part-time keyboard satirists, it can turn into excellent PR. Southern Rail are a very recent and very successful example of this. The train services provider sat work-experience lad Eddie at the Twitter PC, and told the public the 15-year-old would be answering their questions, they just has to use #askEddie. Whether it was Eddie responding remains to be seen, but we enjoyed the questions and the responses in equal measures. This story was picked up by nearly every national newspaper, and some even choose to run feature pieces on Eddie. Our next intern has a lot to live up to.
And finally, an honourable mention to my club Manchester United. Four years and counting since finishing top of the Premier League, but #MUFC is still the most used hashtag in all sport. That should equate to some sort of points bonus I feel…