The Almighty HashtagTime to dive deeper into the world of Social TV, this time looking at the most recognised symbol in Social Networking history… The Hashtag.

Definitions Anyone?

There have been many attempts to describe the Hashtag. Some describe it as the glue that holds an online conversation together; others refer to it as an ‘online water cooler’ (referring to conversations that often took place around an office water cooler)… some just call it ‘that symbol that resembles Tic-Tac-Toe’…

I prefer to describe the Hashtag, as a ‘digital campfire’. People will gather around the Hashtag and use it to connect with others and share opinions, facts, and other bits of knowledge that people deem interesting and relevant.

Whatever you call it there is no denial that the symbol is powerful. But for anyone who has taken an extended mortgage on a dark cave, allow me to briefly explain how the Hashtag came to be.

The Most Powerful Symbol of Modern Interaction

Initially started on Twitter by a group of users unsatisfied with the level of organisation on the site, they took it among themselves to devise a way of stringing larger conversations together. Placing a ‘#’ before a word allows a tweet to be placed within a much larger conversation – Kinda like bringing your own stories or comments to a camp fire…

The Hashtag was soon taken up by Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest eventually resulting in the word “Hashtag” being added to the dictionary – (Although apparently Microsoft Word disagrees).

#Bringdowntheking

The idea of live tweeting and releasing behind the scenes content around a Hashtag is an extremely effective (and most popular) method of connecting to an audience. However, this is not the only benefit of the Hashtag, as evidenced by Game of Thrones.

During the build up to the latest season, Sky New Zealand, created a Twitter based campaign entitled “Bring Down The King” whereby a large statue of King Joffrey Baratheon, a much loved… despised character from the show was erected in the centre of Auckland New Zealand.

The rules were simple, fans were asked to bring down the king by tweeting their supportive messages containing the Hashtag #Bringdowntheking, at which point the statue would be publicly pulled down.

Five days, and over 1 million tweets (across 120 countries) later, the statue was publicly toppled and broadcasted live online via 2 web cams. Check out the footage here.

This use of a Hashtag not only gave fans the opportunity to participate in a global event, but also increased buzz surrounding the phenomenally anticipated GOT fourth season.

Direct-to-Audience Advertising

Sticking on the Game of Thrones theme, I also came across another great use of the Hashtag recently; the Hashtag was featured on a US commercial for non-other then KFC. Click here to see what I’m talking about.

Not only is this another fantastic way to advertise both the show and the KFC brand, but it was also an incredibly effective way to REACH A WIDESCALE AUDIENCE.

Since watching this commercial I have begun to notice just how many Hastags there are on TV adverts.

They’re everywhere!

How This Helps YOU

Now, if you are lucky enough to have a spot on national TV during primetime airing, then this is a sure fire way to drive people towards your project. However, if you are one of the many thousands who don’t have this luxury there are still plenty of opportunities to grab.

YouTube and Facebook advertising for example are excellent ways to get your Hashtag seen by people. These kinds of public social networks and video hosting sites are, in many ways, just as direct as TV.

To take a statistic from a January Study by BT (British Telecom), 36% of UK Internet users use Social Media while watching TV… Take advantage of that and get your Hashtag online!

Kneel Before Your #God

There is a reason that the Hashtag has become the most recognisable social network symbol.

The power that the Hashtag has to draw people to particular topic or product is staggering.

Do you have any examples of great Hashtag uses? Drop a comment below… or send me a Hashtag.

Lee Robinson
About the author

23yr old film nerd, comic book and video game geek and all round Transmedia Fanatic…Oh, and I also have a 1st degree in Media, Writing and Production. More here...

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