Yesterday, a social media agency was referring to one of its client campaigns resulting in the worldwide trend list on Twitter, with some pride. Understandably, given global trending requires quite a bit of smart thinking.
The hashtag was #womencantresist.
Now, with only that as a clue, can you guess the brand behind it?
What are you most likely to do?
Most won’t help you connect the hashtag to the brand that created it in the first place.
The other option is you can ask a friend on your timeline who tweeted that hashtag. The conversation could possibly go like this.
‘Abey O. Yeh #womencantresist kya hai re?’
‘Pata nahi. Maine kisi aur kho tweet karte dekha tha. Maza aaya…main bhi kar raha hoon’
Interesting, isn’t it. The chances of someone random not able to find the brand behind the hashtag is very, very high, given the amount of relentless noise on Twitter.
So, how could brands ensure the all-important brand connect?
If they create a hashtag that is the brand/product name itself, people may not really appreciate the blatantness of it – so, that is not a good idea.
The agency/brand could create a page for the sake of search results in which the hashtag and rules (if any, to do with the contest centered around the hashtag) are explained. This, I hope, would appear when people are searching for the hashtag to know the brand behind it and how they can participate.
Is this an overkill? After all, isn’t a hashtag merely supposed to be a fun thing for people to adopt and go ga-ga over, without any brand imposing itself?
In a perfect world, yes.
But just consider how #womencantresist can help Crazeal? Yes, that’s the brand behind this hashtag.
Can it, at all? If there’s something remotely connected with the brand, perhaps yes. But I don’t see anything between Crazeal and #womencantresist at the outset*.
So, it was the hashtag that engaged a LOT of Twitter users across the globe…and not Crazeal the brand. If that be the case, what are the success parameters of this activity for which an agency is getting paid? The mere act of trending worldwide? The number of people who tweeted with this hashtag in their tweets?
Or, the number of people who recalled or became aware of Crazeal’s existence due to this activity?
Another recent hashtag attempt by the same brand was #MogamboKhushHua. As much fun as it sounds, it perhaps doesn’t connect in any way, directly or indirectly, with what Crazeal is or what it is trying to do.
You may well ask – social media is about engagement, not brand plugging. Absolutely. I’ve always maintained that brands are incidental to the conversation.
But consider this – most teaser campaigns in the offline world are direct equivalents of the hashtag campaign on Twitter! Frooti’s Digen Verma was merely around the name and the persona of ‘Digen Verma’ with no brand connect, in the teaser phase. But (besides the point that Times of India hijacked it) Frooti had a follow-up to connect the dots back to the brand. So, what was seemingly random and buzzed about by people, was brought back to the brand and that is the plan from the word go.
Maruti Suzuki’s latest Life Utility Vehicle is another example – it was nothing but ‘LUV’ in the initial communication. But the brand soon brought Ertiga into the picture and while people were merely buzzing what LUV means, Maruti added that it was nothing but Ertiga, the Life Utility Vehicle.
But there is a critical difference between the offline and online equivalents. In the offline world, brands pay their way through communication vehicles that stop you in your tracks – break your attention flow. So, billboards…print ads…TVCs etc.
In the online world, brands can use a platform that you are already present in and are active in…and in most cases, your own friends bring forth the communication to you…like an online chain. And in most cases, there’s no payment involved, except for the agency that is managing it. But, given the complete lack of control over a campaign like this, online, it may be prudent for a brand to plan the follow-up appropriately so that it closes the loop. So, in Crazeal’s case, there’s a simple way to close the loop – package many women-centric deals and highlight it in the home page. The better the set of deals, the better the recall value of the connect.
There were other recent trends – like Star’s new channel, LifeOK, when it launched, was trending in India as #lifeok. The exact brand name was unique and was trending and it also meant something else, colloquially. So, there were 2 levels of connect – one generic, for people to participate in and the other, the brand name, which people are likely to connect when they see the TV.
Merely throwing interesting engagement hooks in the form of hashtags is great for individuals and their ego. But, for brands that pay an agency to manage engagement, there perhaps needs to be better business sense in throwing things out at online audiences. How efficiently it helps the brand and how cleverly it is packaged so that it is not seen as too blatant a plug for the brand is perhaps what it is all about.
* If there was indeed a larger plan than throwing unique hashtags at people to participate, I’d love to know and update this blog post.