If you are one of the millions of people who watched the Super Bowl on Sunday you might have noticed that many of the much-anticipated commercials included hashtags (#). The purpose of a hashtag, or the pound sign, is that it allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords. This year’s Super Bowl set a new record for hashtags with over 57% of ads containing one. But why?
Many of us can’t seem to put down our smartphone or tablet even while watching TV, but that doesn’t mean that we are just addicted to checking email or playing Candy Crush. In reality, fifty-three percent of consumers are using that second screen to engage in mobile-based activities related to what they’re watching on TV. So advertisers are trying to get in on the action by providing a hashtag to viewers in hopes that they will start or join a conversation about their brand. If people are going to be online and talking about what they are watching, why not have them promote and discuss your product?
But is adding a hashtag to the end of a commercial enough to get viewers involved? No, unfortunately it’s not. In order for a hashtag to work, you need to give the viewer something so amazing they just have to share it with others. That something might be the sweet moment when a horse and puppy become #bestbuds, or it might be hearing America the Beautiful in many different languages and thinking #AmericaisBeautiful.
Or you could follow Esurance’s lead and focus your entire commercial around a hashtag… and give away $1.5 million to someone who uses that hashtag. That got me involved!