Hashtags are everywhere in this new world that is immersed in social media. It is now possible to interact with our different screens in a way that is more connected than ever before. This cross-screen media is called Social TV.
Carri Bugbee, founder of Big Deal PR, defines social TV as, “technologies (software and hardware) and processes that allow connections and interactions between fans, content creators, and distributors of video content.” It is a double-screen experience. The ad world has not yet gotten to the point where every commercial has an included hashtag, but it’s getting there. Hell, the Superbowl came pretty close.
But to what extent do people interact with the shows they watch on television? I, for one, don’t really interact much with TV on Twitter. I’ll hashtag a show if I’m talking about it, but I’ve never followed that hashtag conversation to see what others are saying. Discussing this trend in my social media class, the rest of the class seemed pretty much on the same page as I am. So are companies wasting their time throwing hashtags on commercials?
Apparently not. According to the blog Hashtracking, a few commercials’ hashtags did fairly well in generating discussion about the brand. The Budweiser #Clydesdales brought on an overwhelming amount of sentiment on Twitter, along with a fun competition asking the audience to name the baby horse. The hashtag is still attracting attention long after the ad was originally aired.
The idea of hashtagging commercials makes sense. It gives a platform for viewers to interact with each other and with the brand, and is easily followed. It has the potential to keep brand-relevant conversations going for much longer than previously possible.
There is an art to this, though. Just because you throw a hashtag on a commercial doesn’t mean that people will talk about the spot. It has to call the audience to action somehow, grab our attention, and actually compel us to tweet.
I might respond to a commercial asking me to name a baby horse on Twitter. That grabs my attention. Hell, it could be naming a random bunny and I’d probably do it. But you have to get to that level. Simply throwing a #CalvinKlein up there isn’t enough to make me tweet–though I’m sure that one got some good Twitter feedback… (let’s just say that it didn’t exactly get the best reviews from the football players I watched the bowl with)
I encourage brands to take advantage of the double-screen experience. Tweet out to followers right after an ad runs, calling them to action. Tweet out related videos and images. Know that while we’re watching, we’re probably on Twitter as well– just may not following a hashtag.
Advertising is good at grabbing our attention. The hashtag must do the same. Don’t let us wait, or we’ll forget about it. Be so compelling that we grab our phones right away and get involved.