Growing up, I knew “because my friends are doing it” wasn’t a good response to my parents asking, “David, why did you do that?” But as a child, logic often wasn’t a consideration.
And yet, marketers seem to be using the same logic when it comes to the ubiquitous hashtag, six years into its livelihood.
To varying degrees across social channels, any word with a # in front of it (pound sign, for the old timers) has been immediately useable for aggregating conversations.
For users, this has meant having fun with Twitter’s #ChangeAWordRuinAMovie.
For brands, it’s become a misguided obsession for unaware marketers.
The knee-jerk reaction, of course, is to call that assertion blasphemy. What about the #ALSIceBucketChallenge? What about Charmin’s ongoing #TweetFromTheSeat campaign?
Here’s the thing – hashtags didn’t start conversations about these topics. They delivered the stuff that made your thumbs stop; the things that made you say “this is great” or “this is hilarious” – and “I’m going to share this.”
Can the hashtag take credit for that? No.
Great ideas and great execution can – and always will – be the reason that great content gets shared.
Without that, the hashtag might as well be dead.