In 2010 when I first wrote about QR codes, several friends say, ‘nah, they won’t take off’. I’m sure people said the same thing about hashtags. Well, hashtags will soon be included on packaging for major brand products, just like QR codes.
#Hashtags are more than common now and there are dozens of websites that promise to give businesses ‘tracking data’ to determine how popular a tag is – in other words, see just how many people passed along the message that was trying to be conveyed. Facebook and Twitter are obviously the most popular social media outlets to use them, but more and more television stations, individual TV shows, movies and of course whatever the internet fad of the moment are using them.
Quick quiz… you write a quick post online about wanting to watch the Olympics. Do you write:
A) “Can’t wait to watch the #Olympics tonight!”
B) “Can’t wait to watch the #SochiOlympics tonight!”
C) “Can’t wait to watch the #2014Olympics tonight!”
Of course the answer is – all are correct – but if you want to ‘correctly’ attribute the tag so that searches will take you to the Olympic organizer’s website, which is the “most” correct?
Here’s another one – what if you’re writing about the bone disease Avascular Necrosis which is often shortened to AVN and you add “#AVN” to the post, but don’t check it before you post it… then find out that AVN is probably far more commonly known as the “Adult Video News” – which runs their own version of the #Oscars for porn. Whoops.
One last scenario… you’re working on article about camping and travelling and you sidetrack a little about visiting a nearby rainforest. Your article will be released to a broad distribution newsletter that will also be printed and emailed and posted online. You want to ’correctly’ give reference to an organization that raises funds for “saving the rainforests”. You’re not an expert on rainforests and you didn’t easily find a tag for it… So which tag do you use?
You logically use “#SaveTheRainforests”. Then you find out that an oil conglomerate is using that tag in their advertisements, trying to show how environmental they are – when in fact, they clear cut thousands of acres of rainforests a year but ‘save’ 1% of each forest. You may not want to support that company… but now you are supporting their message. Another “whoops”.
So, where do you find the tag that GreenPeace uses when they talk about saving a rainforest? In this article title “The Great Bear Rainforest Victory” or this one “Protecting forests”? Nope. They don’t have any hashtags there. So what should you use?
A website idea
Okay… how about a website that lists all the hashtags that a company uses for their various advertising campaigns and brands? On the same site you can search (and watch) that fun commercial where the car guys get their wings… Was the tag #Wings or #VW100000… no, it was just #VW (kind of a missed opportunity).
The revenue model would be purely ad-based. This isn’t likely to be a popular consumer website (but who really knows?) If it caught on, companies could pay for click traffic when someone searches for a specific tag to find the ‘official’ company that started using the tag.
As hashtags become more commercial, brands will be using them more. Not just in commercials, but in more printed materials, including product packaging. So why not get a jump on the “hashtag database” now? HashBase.com?