Should Two Brands Capitalize on The Same Hashtag?

 

So, yesterday an interesting incident happened on Twitter. Around 4 in the evening, Castrol Biking started hashtag #YouAreABikerIf and asked people to submit their entries and win Castrol Power merchandise.

Undoubtedly, this got all the bikers on Twitter excited and they happily tweeted away. I am pretty sure even those who didn’t have any idea about the prize, merrily tweeted using the hashtag. And within no time, the hashtag started trending. What followed afterwards was exciting. Comedy Store India decided to capitalize on this hashtag and asked Tweeters to tweet using the #YouAreABikerIf hashtag with the best entries winning an #FF from them.

So we have two brands – Castrol Biking and Comedy Store India. One hashtag – #YouAreABikerIf. And two prizes!!

This was noted by Shruti Nair, co-founder Social Seety, who was not impressed with this practice of leveraging the hashtag of another brand and started the discussion on her Facebook profile.

But then, if you have spent considerable time on Twitter, you will know that brands capitalizing on a trending hashtag is not something new. Almost every brand out there (big or small) wants to leverage a popular hashtag to get its word out.

So, I reached out to Shruti regarding this entire episode and this is what she had to say:

Social Media is a tricky business and with brands having to show results every single day in terms of Likes, Results or a retweet and a follower, there are various methods that various brands are applying to their strategy. Now the hashtag nuisance started with brands capitalizing on an other brands hashtag but it didn’t stay till there. Off late I have been observing different brands taking up others contests and properties and merely changing the gratification and making it their own. And this is something that I find really unhealthy for two brands existing in the same medium. In my opinion, a brand should maintain it’s sanity on the social space and not jump in on an another brands property.

P.S – These views are my personal and not those of our company collectively. Thanks.

Now, an interesting piece of information that came out of this entire episode was that both the brands, Castrol Biking and Comedy Store India, are managed by the same agency – FoxyMoron.

The agency wanted both it’s clients to capitalize on the same hashtag. Killing 2 birds with one stone? Let’s hear what Harshil Karia, co-founder FoxyMoron, has to say:

It isn’t a bad idea for brands to participate in open #s and certainly not if the brand has a personality that’s open, social and non brand centric. In the space of Twitter, unless a # is ‘branded’, none really owns it. Hence, depending of course on the personality of the brand and the way it operates, it isn’t a bad idea for it to engage in a conversation that people it cares about are engaging in.

About The Comedy Store:

The Comedy Store is a Twitter account that works like a human being. Its personable. Friendly. Its also associated with comedy and hence lends itself to almost any #. It often participates in  #s on most days. #YouareaBikerif is not an exception. (screenshots attached). Neither is the way its asking followers to tweet and receive something intangible.

If you study it this is the way it operates and has been operating. Capitalize on conversations and drive them in a desired direction is the strategy. The # also lends itself well to a comedy platform. Show content at the Comedy Store has often touched upon  the subject of bikers so it isn’t really a stretch to talk about it either.

Following are the screenshots of Comedy Store India participating in other trending hashtags (submitted by Harshil):

In fact, the #YouAreABikerIf hashtag also saw tweets coming from Royal Enfield and Comedy Central India – some of the biggest contributors to the hashtag.

And this is what Harshil had to say on Castrol Biking :

Castrol biking initiated this # because it brings together biking enthusiasts to talk about biking. This # was started and a few select conversations were rewarded with limited edition Castrol Power 1 books specially created by xBHP – a biking community. At the start of the #, a lot of biking enthusiasts came on board. Brands like Royal Enfield participated and spoke about what being a biker means to them. This collective participation by passionate bikers is what ultimately led to the creation of a trending topic of conversation.

To get a neutral perspective on this entire episode, I reached out to industry verteran Mr. Sanjay Mehta, co-founder Social Wavelength, who was also a part of the initial discussion.

How wise is it for a brand to capitalize on a hashtag started by another when it isn’t even relevant to it? Such as in this case where the hashtag #YouAreABikerIf is relevant to Castrol but not to Comedy Store.

Historically, hashtags are not and were not about a brand. They were just something that someone started and it took off, and the twitter world participated. We all do this, every now and then. So unless a hashtag has a brand name in it, it really does not ‘belong’ to anyone. And if a brand twitter handle wants to jump in with something, I see nothing wrong in it.  As regards relevance, it is not about the one hashtag, but what is the overall positioning that the brand has taken on social media. A bank brand focusing on giving serious content cannot jump into a casual hashtag, and it will seem out of place. But a fun brand like Comedy Store or Channel V or something, has the liberty to participate across variety of conversations and hashtags, if it chooses to.

It turns out both the brands are handled by the same agency. Do you think this practice will be detrimental to the our Social Media Industry if more agencies replicate this practice of cross promoting their clients using one hashtag?

Whether two brands are handled by the same agency or not, the brand owners themselves are sensitive to NOT be “used” out of place. So usually random associations would not happen. Whether managed by same agency or not. However, there can be planned joint participation. Like we often see even in the traditional marketing space. Like buy a soap and get agarbatti free, etc. Or like a Coke and Pizza combo for that matter. So if joint promotion actually makes sense then, why not.. and if it does not, then it won’t be done, because brand owners will not let their brands be used randomly..

So, there you have it from the experts in the Indian Social Media landscape.

What do you think of this practice of brands leveraging a generic hashtag that is trending? More importantly, I would like to know your opinion about one agency using one hashtag to promote two of its clients. Do you think it’s good for the industry?

 

 
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