Social Media in the ‘Real World’: The Power of a #Hashtag

20th September 2016

by Petrushka Lee

Hashtags are a fickle notion, those oblivious to the social media landscape see them as obscure, grammatically incorrect gimmicks. Even some marketers still struggle knowing where and when to use them. However for you online savvy folk you’ll know they have the power to unite thoughts, spark viral frenzies and create explosive messages. Here we look at harnessing the power of a hashtag to garner results in the ‘real world’.

Icebucket Challenge

We all remember the summer of 2014 when a viral charity campaign saw millions of soggy partakers do their bit to raise funds for the ALS Association. But no one foresaw the incredible achievement the campaign would result in.

The origins of the challenge have been traced back to two cousins from a small town in New York, two socially aware teenagers just looking to make a few donations. Never anticipating the $115m the challenge raised to date. Oodles of notable names such as Tom Cruise, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Anna Wintour further supported the project but it was heavily criticized as “slacktivism” – lacking real world impact.

Critics were left reeling as recent news broke of a major breakthrough in the research funded by the stunt. Scientists uncovered a gene variant associated with ALS, helping them to understand the way in which ALS takes hold. With further research this breakthrough could lead to the discovery of much-needed treatments.

This campaign is a fantastic example of the way social media can reach individuals in a way that no other media can. Social media platforms are built, but NOT created by developers; their true validation only comes from the community and they way they chose to use the channels. Collaborative efforts can make for magnificent outcomes; hopefully we’ll see more synchronized endeavors like this one lead to more fantastic breakthroughs in the not too distant future.

Hashtag Football

Hashtag United are an entirely new concept in social media vs. real-life gaming. The YouTube famous club is just six months old but already has millions of fans. They don’t play in the conventional sense of a league but they have already turned out at Wembley, will soon be featured on the new Football Manager game and almost signed Adebayo 'The Beast' Akinfenwa.

So what’s the appeal in watching a random bunch of guys you’ve never heard of play football against other lesser-known players? Let’s delve a little deeper. Their captain and creator is a YouTube celebrity in his own right, Spencer FC has over 1.5M subscribers, which ultimately catapulted the venture twofold. Their USP is that they’ve had the luxury of incorporating e-gaming into their interesting league set up. E-sports is an incredibly lucrative industry and alongside their amateur team they do employ one professional Fifa player. They describe their set up as ‘similar to one you might find when playing games such as Fifa 16 online.

Hashtag United’s Instagram account just topped 100,000 followers, Twitter stands at 41,000 and more than a million people watched one of their latest YouTube videos. Whether you’re interested in football or not you have to applaud the creative thinking behind this concept, and we can’t help but wonder whether real-life gaming might become a future staple of the millennial generation.

Kenzo – #TheRealestReal

Parisian fashion powerhouse Kenzo, have teamed up with indie filmmaker Carrie Brownstein to create their latest short film, titled 'The Realest Real'. The satirical film is a brilliant reminder of social media’s dark underbelly but its approach has a compelling twist that a younger audience can all too easily resonate with. We’ve all favourited, liked or commented on one of our idol’s social media posts. What if that line between virtual reality and reality suddenly disappeared, and those celebrities were a very real and significant part of our lives. The notion is scary isn’t it? That’s the lesson this short film is trying to teach us in an abstract way, “It is about the idea that you can kind of insert yourself into the narrative of someone’s life, and into your idol’s life,” says Brownstein.

The video was originally created for the #KENZOFW16 collection and recently debuted at New York Fashion Week where it’s fantastical narrative was hot on the lips of creatives throughout the industry.

Lesson to be learned, social media is a fabulous tool for representing your individualism, jumping in on trending hashtags and for sharing those wonderful moments in your life. But we do have to remember that once you’ve posted something online, it is no longer private. Be Internet savvy and save your innermost secrets for your bedside diary.

We hope this has given you some newfound inspiration for getting your hashtag juices flowing. Remember that all the major social platforms allow you to use them and they have a proven ability to increase engagement. So what are you waiting for, get involved!

Here at Cobb Digital we love keeping up to date with the latest industry insights and are wizards at crafting ingenious hashtags to enhance your campaigns. Why not give us a call on 01273 208913 to discuss your next marketing ventures.

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