We often see some vibrant and well-crafted campaigns, in different widespread and catchy media. All the ingredients are there, a great visual, a smart catchline, a fantastic logic…and there it was. It was small enough to be integrated but large enough to be distracting. The Hashtag. The #. The one and only.
Would I suddenly seek out an online conversation about what I’ve just seen? Was I better equipped to share my desire to buy this product? Or was this just a lazy attempt to appear contemporary through mimicry? The hashtag should be banished…or at least used in a more accurate way.
Marketers love to envision their hashtag underpinning cultural conversations. The reality, however, is that truly creating a deep interest in the public consciousness? The ideal situation would be to drive conversation to bring interest and business success. The hashtag is certainly the right way to go for the future of your company cash flow.
Some brands would like to solve the scale dilemma with a commercial immediately following the peak of the campaigns promising great rewards to some lucky persons who posted to Twitter with the hashtag #brandwillchange yourlife. This is certainly working, even more when it’s linked to some big events or some powerful sponsorships. It’s difficult to believe, however, that affirming humans are still responsive to Pavlovian stimuli was the most profitable activity a multimillion-dollar marketing investment could drive. I’m sure the “buzz” charts in the recap presentation can be stunning. But any logic that attempts to connect policy sales to a sweepstakes with virtually no barrier to entry is bound to be tortured. Online conversations about brands are the result of effective marketing — not the cause.
Then, it’s all about which brand can or may use the hashtag. Did your parents ever try to bond with you by listening to your music? Maybe they attempted to copy your fashion or use your slang?
While noble, these gestures never made your parents any more relatable. That’s because being cool is about more than copying conventions. Your style is an extension of the principles and beliefs that bind you to your peers. There’s more to being chic than ticking boxes on a checklist. Similarly, brands mistakenly believe that using hashtags will make them seem modern and approachable. But being modern and approachable requires more than just a trendy tool. The best consumer connections are forged on an emotional level through shared human values — and rarely is a hashtag up to this task.
Convincing people that our brands are more than mindless is not easy aim. Every day it seems there’s a new reason to believe that profits and stock prices are the only fuel capable of powering society’s engines.
The brands that are best equipped to overcome this cynicism are those with a greater sense of purpose, a mission that resonates with their core target. They speak and behave in a way that understands what gets others with similar beliefs. When they communicate, it’s not merely about changing perceptions — it’s about demonstrating who they truly are at a primal, spiritual level.
And if they’re doing that effectively, chances are there’s no need for a hashtag.
Don’t forget to share this article with #hashtag. Thank you for your support.