The Hashtag: Now a Hero

Get it trending!

The hashtag has emerged in our everyday language as a powerful tool over social media that allows words or unspaced phrases to be grouped and tagged together. But the hashtag has had quite the evolution. Initially, the #hashtag was excessively used on social media in unproductive and essentially useless manners… Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake know what I’m saying with this one! Watch the misused and misunderstood usage of hashtags in their parody of what a twitter conversation sounds like in real life:

With the rise of the hashtag and its increasingly widespread use, the word was added to the dictionary June of 2014. And props to the hashtag! It has made a well-deserved name for itself and is now a key component of social media whether it be on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or countless others. The hashtag has allowed for the ability to search for similarly tagged messages or images, but even more recently it’s been a huge hit in trending events or news.

The hashtag has even made some incredible discoveries. Just this past week in the news, there was a mysterious man identified as the “Boston Shoveler” who went out and shoveled the finish line of the Boston Marathon during the blizzard. #whoshoveledthefinishline was buzzing and trending on twitter as people used social media to voice their support and inspiration of the shoveling man’s act. The trending feature of the hashtag helped Boston find its hero. Pretty groundbreaking the power and implication the hashtag was able to achieve with this one!


Looking forward, the hashtag has a big presence to make this weekend… The major hype of the hashtag will be this Sunday for the 2015 Superbowl. Brands will extend their advertising over social media platforms in elaborate attempts to promote brand strength. The hashtag has the potential to be the MVP player in this battle of whoever is so successful enough to come out on top.

The ad buzz of the Superbowl is one like no other. The 2014 Superbowl had a record breaking 111.5 million TV viewers and it’s no doubt that this year will beat that. However, the real fascination is why people watch. Of course with football being America’s favorite sports, intense competition is the main reason, but a number of studies have shown that over 50% of the Superbowl audience tunes in just for the ads. What does this mean for the hashtag? Advertisers will be using the hashtag with hopes to translate the Superbowl hype into social status. Toyota wants twitter users to tweet photos of their dads using the handle #OneBoldChoice and Loctite hopes to spark talk about people’s glue victories by using #WinAtGlue. It’ll be interested what other hashtags get trending during this weekend and which ones are successful!

So what’s the game predictions on the social media field? Nissan, BMW and Nationwide will return to the advertising spotlight as veterans, with company stats of 18, four, and eight years in the Superbowl advertising game, respectfully. Beverages will dominate the majority of commercial airtime. The same old brands will get up and do the same old tricks, like GoDaddy running yet another spot completely unrelated to its product. But the real question looking into this weekend’s game predictions is whether social media will be able to rise above commercials in this year’s battle for the best ad.

30 second commercial spots are going for $4.4 million to $4.5 million on NBC. Let the games begin and may the hashtags be ever in your favor…

Works Consulted: Forbes


  1. I was one of the probably thousands (or millions) of people who watched the hashtag help identify that shoveler over Juno. I love that the hashtag allows for people to share communal thoughts, and it makes it far easier for people to search within the webs of Twitter or Facebook. For companies, the hashtag can help them identify problems or comments from customers who may have not tagged the company itself. Yes, it is another thing to monitor, but the hashtag game is fun. I also like using hashtags to find topics people are buzzing about- for the most recent SAG awards, I used #sag to find Instagram pictures of celebrities (I only watch for the dresses, I’ll confess). While watching the SuperBowl this weekend, I look forward to keeping my eye on the hashtags to see which companies succeed in getting the buzz going.

  2. Going back to the our only class to date, Clay Shirky’s analysis of how social media creates different circles and propel movements in an astonishing rate in comparison to the days when the world didn’t have that. Hashtag aids to that phenomena and continues to illustrate how social media is able to encourage the formation of groups of people who share same views. I extremely like hashtag’s role in alot of political movements, such as the arab spring, #jesuischarlie/ #jesuisahmed and #umbrellamovement. It allows the aggregation of information in a quick way in a world where there are too much data. Great Post!

  3. A few years back, I noticed that marketing professionals started using an entirely different hashtag #brandbowl to discuss the commercials at the superbowl. So, it enabled different communities of people to interact with the same live event in very different ways. Of course, the BEST was when the lights went off in New Orleans. That’s when it was great to be on Twitter!

  4. Five years ago the hashtag has been invented by Twitter’s users and has today become a huge trend. When I saw a hashtag for the first time, I didn’t really understand the sense behind it, but after some time I got to know its advantages. Hashtags make it possible to find content related to specific topics and to share my own opinion about it. Furthermore you can identify an audience with similar interests and make your own comments more visible to others. People of Twitter are claiming that the hashtag is the new URL. And it’s true that you see the hashtag as the URL on-screen at the end of a movie trailer. I’m very curious about the future development and usage of the hashtag.

  5. I think that the #SuperBowl and #SB49 hashtag will be particularly interesting to monitor throughout today’s festivities. I had been following a feed today by Advertising Age chronicling all of the brands and companies capitalizing on the SuperBowl hashtags with hopes of finding their way into the conversation on Twitter and potentially reaching a new audience. It appears that a lot of seemingly random brands are jumping on #SB49 train. For example Luvs, a diaper and baby wipe brand, just tweeted at 12:47 p.m. “False Start: when a kid runs away before you can change his diaper. #ToddlerPenalties #SB49” Here is the link of the feed if anyone else is interested in checking it out

  6. I really enjoyed this post, prior to this I had completely lost sight of the original function of “hash-tagging”. I’m definitely one to hashtag phrases that frankly serve no purpose other than to add comedic value to my posts. However, this post reminded me how much power hashtags hold in the marketing world. It’s a great tool to connect consumers to other consumers as well as consumers to companies. I remember tracking #bendgate when the new iPhone 6 came out last year and thinking of the havoc it was causing Apple and potential new buyers. #bendgate is still a stigma that is attached to Apple’s newest phone because of a simple hashtag.

  7. I think hashtags are essential to the social media world. Every time I post a picture on Instagram I think about what hashtags I will use, and most of the time I end up asking my friends what they recommend. I probably spend more time deciding what hashtags to used than choosing the photo I want to post. The video you posted is a great example of how people have misused the hashtag by using it without purpose. For those who know how to use them, hashtags have provided a great way to create communities online. A perfect example is our own hashtag: #IS6621 X, which lets us browse what other students have been. I am also looking forward to see what hashtags come out of the Super Bowl ads, looks like #LikeAGirl will be one of them!

  8. Speaking of the use of hashtags in the Superbowl, I thought a particularly interesting usage was #LikeAGirl in the Always commercial. The commercial itself was not exactly geared toward the product but more so the hashtag. This will hopefully allow the product to remain relevant once the game is over, and also (more importantly?) spark a conversation about perceptions of femininity in America. Here’s the commercial if you missed it!

  9. Great post! While watching yesterday’s game it seemed overwhelming the amount of Ads that featured hashtags. Interestingly enough, Marketing Land just posted an article indicating that 50% of Super Bowl ads carried hashtags, which was actually a bit of a decline from the record 57% during the 2014 game! I think this could be due to the rising popularity of Snapchat, which does not utilize the hashtage feature. Snapchat received its first mention in a Super Bowl commercial alongside Facebook for the upcoming movie Pitch Perfect 2.

  10. The hashtag’s evolution is so interesting. Its a great story of how something that was so seemingly meaningless has become extremely important. Personally, I find out most news stories based off of what is trending due to hashtags. Without it, I would probably be much less informed about the world! I often forget how powerful hashtags can be but the Superbowl was definitely a reminder of how important they are to brands and consumer engagement. I’m sure the effects of the hashtags used in yesterdays game make the hefty price tag of an ad a little more worth it.

  11. The hashtag was definitely a hot topic and tool during last nights Superbowl. It seemed that everyone posting a photo on Twitter, Instagram, or on the web in general had the, #doyourjob. Did you see the Coca Cola commercial? #makeithappy was trending, and I’d be interested to see how companies use the data from #’s to make future business decisions. #bestbuds was also a great hashtag to follow, but I’m a sucker for puppies. Great post!

  12. Nice post. It touches on a great tool that helps social media spreading out the message by grouping the topic in the #. However, as you mentioned in your post, sometimes it is over used and lose its meaning. I laughed so much over the youtube clip included in the post too. And to be honest, I only hashtag something when I really want to emphasize it, otherwise, reading a bunch of words together really hurt the eye is it :)

  13. I’m a little late on the commenting, but I’m an instant fan of anyone who uses Jimmy and JT as examples! That aside, I too am fascinated by the power of hashtags! You used twitter and the Superbowl as your main examples, but I think hashtagging has also been amazingly successful from the Instagram platform. Last night I didn’t have cable access to the Grammy’s, but just by searching #grammy’s I felt like I saw the whole show. Hashtags are so efficient at centralizing information!

  14. I think the hashtag is something that has become taken for granted over the years. The power of hashtags is truly something that is remarkable, as your post points out. I think that as social media continues to gain traction in the business world, the hashtag will become an even greater force.

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