The most popular article on the Nick Lewis Communications blog is “What Does A # / Hashtag / Pound Sign Actually Mean In Social Media?“. Even though the article was only published in March of this year, the fast-moving pace of social media marketing means that an update is now due.
Rather than rework the original article, here are the headline changes that you need to be aware of…
Hashtags Are Now On Facebook
I previously reported that Facebook were rumoured to be introducing hashtags in the near future, and this indeed has come to pass. Although hashtags will only have a limited use within personal Facebook networks (and one remains sceptical as to how long that will remain the case), they are now widely used on Facebook Fan and Facebook Business Pages.
Todd Wasserman of Mashable has written a very good article on this issue (“Facebook Hashtags Have Marketing Potential, Privacy Issues”).
Hashtags No Longer Work On LinkedIn
Until very recently, LinkedIn users were able to use hashtags on LinkedIn. However, just over a month ago, the network removed this functionality. This is disappointing news, as hashtags were a good way of getting greater exposure for your posts on LinkedIn.
Call me a cynic, but I can’t shake the thought that the removal of hashtags has something to do with the introduction of a new ‘sponsored update’ option for LinkedIn users, which, of course, they will have to pay for.
One shouldn’t grumble too much, especially if one uses LinkedIn for free. Given its overtly business-orientated take on social networking, why should we begrudge LinkedIn trying to make some money from its ‘power users’?
Google Plus Is Big On Hashtags
Google Plus has embraced hashtags in a big way, even to the extent that the network can automatically suggest and attach hashtags to your posts if you do not actually create any (the hashtags generated are based on the content of the post in question).
Google Plus is an underrated social network, and I suspect that its intuitive and sensible hashtag functionality may be one factor that may rehabilitate the wider perception of the network.
Hashtags Are Only Becoming Increasingly Popular In The Media And Everyday Life
Since I wrote my original explanation of what a hashtag actually is, the use of hashtags has become an everyday mainstream occurrence, used away from the social networks themselves but in the hope that they will get widely used on those very same networks nonetheless.
This is most prevalent in pop culture. The controversial video for Robin Thicke’s huge summer hit Blurred Lines featured the hashtag #Thicke superimposed onto images of the singer throughout, while former Black Eyed Pea will.i.am even incorporated a hashtag into the name of a song: #ThatPower.
The controversial video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, which features the hashtag throughout… rest assured, this is the ‘Safe For Work’ version.
This trend looks set to continue; Katy Perry’s new album is currently being marketed as #Prism, which will mean that the artist will be co-opting an existing hashtag (relating to posts about the NSA Surveillance Programme of the same name) to gain further exposure for her release.
I predict a backlash against the excessive use of hashtags in marketing such as this. As well as consumers and fans getting annoyed at being manipulated into using hashtags by brands and artists, broadcasters and other media will see this as a cynical attempt at generating free advertising at their expense.
I’ve also noticed that one of the major music channels has already taken to editing out the hashtag in the Robin Thicke video (in the same way that they would do with overt product placement and brand names), and I suspect other media will follow suit in their response to similar campaigns.