Driving Social Business, Championing Innovation, & Inspiring Creativity

The Hashtag: From a Simple Conversation Aggregator to a Pop-Culture Phenomenon

The Hashtag. It’s gone from a simple social conversation aggregator to a pop culture phenomenon in a very short period of time.  Today most social networks have adopted this functionality, however the users of these social networks are scattered all over the adoption curve when it comes to leveraging a hashtag within their communication. From those who aren’t familiar with the term or how to leverage it (i.e. my mother), to those that hashtag everything – and I mean everything – variety continues to be the spice of life when it comes to hashtag use in social channels.

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This skewed consumption of hashtag usage begs me to ask a couple of questions of of social network users.

How can we begin to entice those not leveraging this powerful conversation aggregator to start dabbling with it? In doing so, these non-users would have the opportunity to uncover new information, insights, ideas and the potential to make new connections with people all over the globe, around topics that matter to them. I see this as a real value add.

How can we get the over users to dial it back a bit (or in some cases a lot)? We’ve all seen this before – #the #ones #that #hashtag #simply #everything. What is the point?  They are certainly not leveraging this conversation aggregator in a productive way, unless that is they are trying to follow every possible variation of the conversation they are entering with the picture they post, the tweet they send, or the status they update.  I would guess probably not; and that it’s just a ploy for attention. Or it’s a poor tactic to gain more meaningless followers through over exposure.  It certainly opens up some new comedic territory for exploration – as seen by this great skit from Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake.

I’m not sure I have the answer to the above questions I posed – it’s something I am pondering though.  What are your thoughts? Are non-users missing out? How much is too much?

PSA: Moderation is key with just about everything – even with #hashtags.


Smart Social Marketing or Stupid Decision Making?

If you’ve been online in the past 48 hours I am sure you’ve heard the buzz about a band of digital assailants that are hijacking several notable brands Twitter accounts.  It all began yesterday with the Burger King Twitter account falling victim to a hacker(s) that turned the channel into a faux McDonalds account for several hours.  The hacker(s) we’re quick to turn out some degrading content which would make any brand squeamish to be associated with.  From the looks of things it appears the hackers might have caught Burger Kings social team and or social agency off for Presidents Day, due to the fact that this account was left compromised for several hours before Twitter was notified to go in and disable it. If you’re curious to see how the Burger King debacle played out,  give this play by play from My Community Manager (www.mycmgr.com) a quick perusal.

I am happy to report that later that afternoon Burger King was able to regain control of their Twitter account and responded to their fans (including 30,000+ new followers gained in just a few hours) with a touch of class and humor.

While the burger giant was now again in control, it appears that this same hacker(s) was able to commandeer the Jeep Twitter account this morning, and deploy a similar set of renegade tactics (posting inappropriate images, posting vulgar commentary, and claiming that Jeep sold out to Cadillac) which caused yet another internet swirl.  For a brief synopsis of this web heist check out Business Insider’s story on the event.  I applaud both Burger King and Jeep for the fun and supportive back and forth between brands that occurred after both accounts were restored to their rightful owners.

 

It appears that some brands we’re all too eager for the opportunity to “get hacked” at took it upon themselves to plan their own Twitter heist. MTV and BET (both owned by Viacom) thought they would cash in on the social conversation by planning a hack of their own.  At some point this afternoon both Twitter Handles swapped branded imagery, and began tweeting that they’d been hacked.

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This timely ploy by marketers at both networks certainly allowed them to jump in on the social chatter around hacking, but it quickly backfired.  Much of the sentiment around this stunt turned sour quickly once it was discovered that this was farce, and in the wake of other brands who had just been hacked for real.  In my opinion the only humorous thing that transpired from this MTV / BET botched marketing tactic was this reaction from the Denny’s social team.

The last 48 hours in the social space has given me a couple of things to think about.  I feel strongly that current social media environment requires brands to think smarter, act more quickly, and produce content which gives them a seat at the table within relevant main stream conversations.  I do not believe this new “real time” social environment means that brands should forget about acting ethically and with integrity at all times.  While the intentions behind the MTV / BET faux hack were more than likely innocent, I still question the decision making around this stunt, and why a brand would chance painting itself with the brush of negativity in the era when social media can make sentiment around a brand pull an about face in an instant.

What are your thoughts on the recent Twitter hacks?  Real or Faux?

How do you feel about MTV’s /BET’s attempt to garner a share of the social conversation through this timely stunt?

 


Super Bowl 47, Social Marketing Evolved


How Will Social Continue to Integrate With Television in 2013?

The idea of integrating social components into television gained significant traction in 2012.  In addition to TV, marketers understand how important the second and third screens are in consumers’ lives, and are working to make it easier for them to discover content, learn about products, and ultimately make a purchase.  Smartphone ownership is over 50% and tablet ownership is over 25% among U.S. adults and is growing at a significant pace, as access to these technologies becomes easier and less expensive.  This new connectivity is changing how consumers are engaging with traditional media like television, radio, and print.  Their wireless device is almost certainly in hand or within reach, allowing them to research, converse, and engage with brands and others around the globe in a way that was not possible before.

As the year went on the on air social progression moved at a quick pace.  Brands continued to tag the ends of their commercial spots with social media icons communicating to viewers “hey we’re social”, to integrating full social campaign brand messaging into commercial spots.  Social user generated content like status updates, tweets, and photos; also saw their debut in some branded commercials, further demonstrating the importance of making the consumer feel like they are a part of the conversation.  Live television also saw a transition, as news broadcasts, political events, and sporting events made a move from simply listing the on screen Twitter @Handles of the speakers, to the use of on screen hastags to inspire the online conversation.  During the latter half of 2012 live television transitioned again to current state of actually syndicating the user generated content on screen which captured and displayed the real time conversation happening on social networks. Making strides to stay relevant and be a part of the conversation.

With that said I am confident that in 2012 the use of social components on television aided in extending the conversation around shows, brands, and products. Consumers took to social communities built by television programs and brands, and did so with relative ease; as their smartphones and tablets were within reach at all times. These new real time social connections allowed consumers to get more out of the viewing experience as they had opportunity to share reactions, thoughts, product reviews, and were provide a forum to connect with others that shared a similar interest.  While television added more social functionality in 2012, I think we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg on what is possible, and I am excited to see what’s next.

 

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So what is next for television as it pertains to social?

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now, and have some thoughts on what would make the experience even richer for viewers/consumers as social integration with television evolves in 2013.

Choose Your Own Adventure.  These books we’re wildly popular when I was a kid, perhaps there is something that can be derived from theses stories in the television space?  I’d like to see broadcasts leverage social voting by way of hashtag (Ex. #OptionA or #OptionB) to help viewers create the story line for popular shows.  Directors would use social suggestions to create the plot twists to the shows. I suspect viewers would be highly engaged in the process, and continue to tune in each week to see how the story line plays out.

Big Data.  The sheer volume of conversation happening around any one television show or commercial that uses a hashtag is astonishing.  Keeping this in mind, all of this conversation is public domain, and can be harvested by anyone with some time and a few basic social listening tools.  The wealth of information that can be derived out of these conversations is limitless.  Brands should be looking at this as a way to learn more about their customers/prospects, help them to segment, identify trends, and target the right ads (relevance) at the right time (timeliness) by way of paid social (scale).

Meet The Cast.  Have you even wondered what it would be like to meet your favorite star?  I’d like to see the cast of the show engaging in social with viewers during the broadcasts.  Think about the lift in online/offline conversations those shows would see if viewers knew the stars of the show would be talking with them during/after the show. The buzz from this action would extend well beyond the social space and into water cooler conversation, as people return to their day to day, and share the excitement around their favorite star tweeting them during the show.

Move Beyond The Hashtag.  While the hastag has been a staple way to connect viewers online as well as aggregate and measure conversation, I’d like to see brands and television programs think about new ways to spark conversation and gain comprehensive data.  There is no shortage of social platforms, and am excited to see the kinds of creativity that could be unleashed if fresh ideas to achieve engage were implemented.

Cross Platform Integration. Television shows often try and contain where the social conversation happens (Ex. hashtags).  Rather than restrict where your viewers talk, empower them to talk openly, everywhere.  I’d like to see programs look at ways to integrate other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Foursquare (to name a few), in addition to Twitter. Opening up the discussion will bring in more viewers willing to engage on the social platforms they are the most comfortable with.  For marketers that are looking for insights into the conversations happening across all social platforms, they are accessible via enterprise level social listening tools. Sticking to just a hashtag, seems like an easy way out – well at least not the most creative.

Exclusive Content.  Encourage viewers to watch with tablets and smartphones, then engage via social during broadcast. In return provide them exclusive content, unseen footage, behind the scenes access, first views of trailers, etc.  Making the social community around the show/brand feel special and elite, will spark loyalty and generate even more buzz about the show/brand.

I am excited for what 2013 holds as social evolves and is incorporated even more into our television experience. Unique second screen integration will be critical for television programs and brands to differentiate, and reach consumers on their terms.

Have an idea you’d like to see this coming year as social integrates with television?  Share it below in the comments.


Double Down on Your Social Network of Choice

As the popularity of social networking increases, so does the desire to want to be a part of every emerging social networking trend. People want to be “early adopters” of these new networks whether they know why or not; after all its human nature to want to feel like we’re part of a group, we’re social beings.  Maybe being first to these new networks carries some weight, some bragging rights, a feeling of exclusivity, a new icon to post on your blog, and more often than not an inability to remain effective in engaging with the people you’ve worked so hard to build relationships with in the first place.

This holds true unless you’ve built all of your social networks to look alike, which I see people do all too often. The same people, the same conversations, it’s unfortunately the new norm. Take a second to reflect on this for a minute. Is your Facebook network the same as your Twitter network? Is your Twitter network the same as your Google + network? Is your Google + network the same as say your Pinterest network? You get my point.

I suppose it isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not doing much to connect you to new people and open your eyes to new experiences and learnings – which is the intent of most social networks. In today’s fast paced world of work, family, and other personal commitments let’s face it; we just don’t have the time to be effective in every social media platform that comes around.

Individuals are not only ones flying like moths to a flame when the newest social networks pop up. I’ve seen big brands also make these leaps just to be first just for no other reason than just that. Be first. How are these new networks fitting into their overall content strategy? Will these networks help them better connect with their target consumers? Are they forgetting about the consumers they’ve already built relationships with within their other social communities?  As I think about it more, this approach of constant social channel expansion could be detrimental to the communities big brands have worked so hard to foster online.

From a brand standpoint, it makes sense to double down on your social network(s) of choice. It’s critical for you to focus efforts on the social channels where your target consumers are. Think about planning content for this channel or in some cases channels, which resonates with these consumers, engages them, inspires them to take action, and builds further interest and connection with the brand.  When the timing is right and thought has been given to how to best incorporate a new social channel into your content mix, then and only then, think about adding a new channel to your businesses social properties. While being first to a new social channel seems cool and cutting edge, it turns un-cool really quick if you’re unable to serve up meaningful content to the consumers that connect with you in this new space, causing them to become disinterested in your brand and possibly loosing them as a customer.

I’m interested to get your take on this too. How do you feel about the ability to remain engaged with the networks you have built as you activate more and more social channels?  How do you manage your content mix to ensure the various social channels you participate in work for you or your brand?  I’m looking forward to the discussion.


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