In this blog series, we explore the distinction between fads and trends and why it is vital for CMOs and other marketers—including strategists, designers, copywriters and web developers—to pay attention to each. We’ll consider broad implications of fads and trends while also pinpointing specific examples of each. Read Part 1 Read Part 3 Using hashtags on social media, particularly on Twitter, has become a complex phenomenon, one that offers a bevy of possibilities. You can use hashtags to: Categorize your tweets by topic (e.g., we use the #talkingshop hashtag to classify our tweets about specific types of blog posts) Support charitable causes (e.g., #icebucketchallenge) Raise awareness of social issues (e.g., #WhyIStayed, which prompted many to share stories of domestic violence) Host contests with your consumer base (e.g., create a hashtag, like #WinACar, and ask users to post pictures of themselves posing next to their current cars. You could then choose a winner.) Spark discussions around specific events (e.g., #Oscars) or campaigns Extend your brand’s reach Track engagement across campaigns These are all positive uses of hashtags, but with so many options, it’s all too easy to become shortsighted and lose track of your broader strategic goals. If you use hashtags as frequently and carelessly as Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, you could cause disaster for your reputation if you’re not careful. Let’s look at a couple of examples. #Fail DiGiorno In September 2014, DiGiorno naively used #WhyIStayed, a hashtag meant to spread awareness of domestic violence, to promote pizza.Shortly after, it tweeted effusive apologies for the mistake. One positive takeaway from their response was that it was quick, a necessity for crisis communications. The lesson: Do your research, even in the time-sensitive, fleeting world of Twitter and other social networks. McDonald’s As noteworthy advice, no matter how obvious it may be, a company cannot control hashtags. It’s worth mentioning that they can be hijacked—people of the Twitterverse use a hashtag for a purpose originally unintended. Enter #McDStories. What McDonald’s meant as a way to share fond fast food experiences under the golden arches quickly turned sour.Shortly after the inadvertent backlash, McDonald’s abandoned the hashtag, although it’s still being used. Somewhere, a clown is frowning. The lesson: Walk through some worst- and best-case scenarios, but realize that you can’t control a hashtag you willingly introduce to the public. Watch out for trending hashtags and popular slang While popular hashtags are said to be “trending,” each hashtag is really just a fad, a microcosm of the trend involving brands leveraging social media to engage with consumers. Brands hop on popular hashtags in efforts to keep their name in the game, but it doesn’t always work out well. If you haven’t heard of @BrandsSayingBae yet, now you have. Their bio on Twitter reads, “It’s cool when a corporation tweets like a teenager. It makes me want to buy the corporation’s products.” Their goal? Make fun of brands that hijack popular hashtags, like #swag, or use terminology, like “bae,” in questionable ways to appeal to their audiences. @BrandsSayingBae cited Arby’s as one culprit of trying to sound too cool by using “bae” in numerous responses to customers.Play the long game In the world of social media and in an era where real-time marketing can boost your visibility in the short-term, I would advise a bit of caution. Sure, be creative and be bold—but make sure you have a reason for it. Make sure you have a strategy in place. Make sure you comprehend the consequences and potential benefits of saying that your company’s new product is on fleek (i.e., on point, perfect). Some lessons from the brands above should remind us all of some version of the old adage, “Think before you speak,” no matter who your audience is. Read Part 1 of our On Being Trendy blog series, or check out some of our related blogs, like Brands Trying to Sound Cool.

Agency Life

On Being Trendy - Part 2: Navigating #Hashtags and Popular Slang

Blog Author

Nick Pasotti
April 21, 2015

In this blog series, we explore the distinction between fads and trends and why it is vital for CMOs and other marketers—including strategists, designers, copywriters and web developers—to pay attention to each. We’ll consider broad implications of fads and trends while also pinpointing specific examples of each.

Read Part 1

Read Part 3

Using hashtags on social media, particularly on Twitter, has become a complex phenomenon, one that offers a bevy of possibilities. You can use hashtags to:

  • Categorize your tweets by topic (e.g., we use the #talkingshop hashtag to classify our tweets about specific types of blog posts)
  • Support charitable causes (e.g., #icebucketchallenge)
  • Raise awareness of social issues (e.g., #WhyIStayed, which prompted many to share stories of domestic violence)
  • Host contests with your consumer base (e.g., create a hashtag, like #WinACar, and ask users to post pictures of themselves posing next to their current cars. You could then choose a winner.)
  • Spark discussions around specific events (e.g., #Oscars) or campaigns
  • Extend your brand’s reach
  • Track engagement across campaigns

These are all positive uses of hashtags, but with so many options, it’s all too easy to become shortsighted and lose track of your broader strategic goals. If you use hashtags as frequently and carelessly as Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, you could cause disaster for your reputation if you’re not careful.

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

#Fail

DiGiorno

In September 2014, DiGiorno naively used #WhyIStayed, a hashtag meant to spread awareness of domestic violence, to promote pizza.

Shortly after, it tweeted effusive apologies for the mistake. One positive takeaway from their response was that it was quick, a necessity for crisis communications.

The lesson: Do your research, even in the time-sensitive, fleeting world of Twitter and other social networks.

McDonald’s

As noteworthy advice, no matter how obvious it may be, a company cannot control hashtags. It’s worth mentioning that they can be hijacked—people of the Twitterverse use a hashtag for a purpose originally unintended. Enter #McDStories. What McDonald’s meant as a way to share fond fast food experiences under the golden arches quickly turned sour.

Shortly after the inadvertent backlash, McDonald’s abandoned the hashtag, although it’s still being used. Somewhere, a clown is frowning.

The lesson: Walk through some worst- and best-case scenarios, but realize that you can’t control a hashtag you willingly introduce to the public.

Watch out for trending hashtags and popular slang

While popular hashtags are said to be “trending,” each hashtag is really just a fad, a microcosm of the trend involving brands leveraging social media to engage with consumers. Brands hop on popular hashtags in efforts to keep their name in the game, but it doesn’t always work out well. If you haven’t heard of @BrandsSayingBae yet, now you have. Their bio on Twitter reads, “It’s cool when a corporation tweets like a teenager. It makes me want to buy the corporation’s products.” Their goal? Make fun of brands that hijack popular hashtags, like #swag, or use terminology, like “bae,” in questionable ways to appeal to their audiences.

@BrandsSayingBae cited Arby’s as one culprit of trying to sound too cool by using “bae” in numerous responses to customers.

Play the long game

In the world of social media and in an era where real-time marketing can boost your visibility in the short-term, I would advise a bit of caution. Sure, be creative and be bold—but make sure you have a reason for it. Make sure you have a strategy in place. Make sure you comprehend the consequences and potential benefits of saying that your company’s new product is on fleek (i.e., on point, perfect). Some lessons from the brands above should remind us all of some version of the old adage, “Think before you speak,” no matter who your audience is.

Read Part 1 of our On Being Trendy blog series, or check out some of our related blogs, like Brands Trying to Sound Cool.