Is there value in a Hashtag?

We recently concluded the Crop Over season with a celebration of five years with Collision Foreday Morning. Our post event activity includes reposting our revellers’ photos via hashtag searches. After exhausting our brand’s name, such as #CollisionFive and #CollisionForeday we searched for the generic #CropOver2015, the results were astonishing.

 
Putting aside the incremental growth over the last 2-3 years, there was a significant jump in the usage of the 2015 Crop Over hashtag. To put it in perspective, that’s close to 30,000 more compared to the previous year with an increase by 1,150.  There could be a number of factors attributed to these numbers which include Rihanna, who was contracted since 2011 to promote Barbados as well as the mammoth number of Instagram Users. Instagram’s staggering growth from 80 million in 2012 to 300 million in two years is clear indication that the attention span for Facebook maybe on the decline (or we continue to be less productive in our lives…shhh don’t tell my boss!). Regardless on the change of social media platforms, this evident popularity seems to have gone unnoticed.
This hashtag discovery lead me on an investigative path and it’s quite interesting the lack of visibility from the biggest Annual Festival of Barbados. The private sector is definitely active and present, but the Crop Over Instagram profile has not been updated in 38 weeks. There is however a VisitBarbados Instagram profile which takes a broader look at Barbados, not specifically promoting the festival. Also take note that these two brands are actively on facebook.
There will always be something new to shift the consumer’s attention, may it be from the television set to the computer, but from a marketer’s perspective, it’s our duty to try to keep ahead or just simply be updated with what’s next. We’re like that geeky friend who no one invited but you tolerated them until they became accepted in your circle and you can’t picture life without them. Yep, that’s the cost effective way to ensure you are aware of the brand without being too evasive.
It seems there was talk regarding the renewal of Rihanna’s contract last year with the chairman of the BTA Adrian Elcock saying there was likely to be a change in the structure of  the new deal to reflect plans contained in the strategic focus as it related to the restructuring of the agency. As insignificant as an updated Instagram account may seem to you, it’s clear that Rihanna’s presence has made a visible difference, however I wonder if the decision makers are equipped enough to pivot with the times and truly grasped the value of a hashtag.
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