The Power of #Hashtags

31 Jan The Power of #Hashtags

Love them or hate them, you can’t avoid hashtags in today’s social media culture – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, even LinkedIn –  they’re everywhere. At SpeakerBox, we try to utilize them on a daily basis, both internally and with our clients. For our 20th Anniversary party in October, we implemented the hashtag #SBX20 across all social platforms. It was a great success!

In December, one particular social media network became a little more adventurous with their hashtag usage. Previously, Instagram allowed you to interact with a specific tag by either clicking on a hashtag from a post or searching for a tag in the explore section. Now, you have the ability to “follow” a hashtag just as you would an account. According to an article from The Verge, Instagram’s algorithms pick and choose some of the highlights from the hashtag collection you follow and surface them in your main feed.

Choose to follow #foodie or #puppies anytime soon? Get ready to sift through your feed and 1) question why you aren’t a food blogger and 2) feel the need to adopt 101 puppies. This may be a bit over exaggerated, but you get the idea. In the world of PR and marketing, this opens up a realm of possibilities – especially for consumer centric brands. However, that could be an entire blog post topic on its own. For this blog post, I’m choosing to be a bit #selfish.

I kicked off 2018 by vacationing in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, or should I say #MyDubai. While seeing the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab were cool, nothing quite caught my attention like the emphasis on social media and the hashtag culture. As someone who already loves, lives, and breathes social media – I was utterly shocked. Three things I learned during my trip –

For the love of hashtags: Dubai is quite advanced with their hashtag advertisements. In the States, you don’t usually see many social media related advertisements – and if you do, it’s usually one (or a few) posters/signs at a venue that specify which different platforms that place is active in. While I noticed an abundance of social advertisements throughout my trip, Jumeirah Beach – home of the Burj Al Arab, or #wowJBR, really made me realize this hashtag culture was not a drill. The photos below will explain:



All the wifi you’ve ever wanted: While this doesn’t directly relate to hashtags per say, it indirectly helps to promote a hashtag culture. Most, if not all, places I visited offered free wifi such as Jumeirah Beach, Dubai Mall (#thedubaimall), and City Walk (#citywalkdubai). All locations took full advantage of the free wifi offerings to shamelessly push their brand’s hashtags to the public.

Some popular hashtags (incase you ever visit): #mydubai #mydxb #myuae #dubailife #dubaiinstagram #instadubai #dubaitag

For a city that was once mostly desert, Dubai has done pretty well for itself. In 2017, it was ranked the fourth most hashtagged city on Instagram, coming below Paris, NYC, and London, in a report by Amsterdam-based organization Hashtag the World. While it has also become a more tourist attraction in recent years, I believe their hashtag emphasized culture could be given a little credit. However, the real question lies in 2018 – and circles back to Instagram’s new-ish ‘follow’ hashtag feature. Will this make a city like Dubai even more hashtag obsessed? How will it impact local businesses?

Although i’m currently fascinated with Dubai, it’s also important to think about what this change could potentially do for other markets. While hashtags are largely consumer-based, B2B and government companies/agencies have been able to implement hashtags into their social strategy well. A few recent success stories include Intel jumping on the #ILookLikeAnEngineer movement, Oracle creating awareness about their philanthropic events, and Novartis’ #BeautifulMedicine campaign on Instagram.

There is an art to becoming engaged with followers, potential customers, and broader trending campaigns. Businesses need to ensure hashtag campaigns tie back to marketing and company goals and understand the implication of joining larger movements. It’s important to do your research, but once you’ve done so, the possibilities are endless.

Ana Valdivia
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