The Hashtag Effect




  • March 29, 2015


    What the Academy Awards taught us about a successful campaign.


    If you watched The Academy Awards last month you probably noticed #askhermore. If you follow award season, you know the set-up: an actress walks up to a reporter, let’s say Ryan Seacrest, greetings and hugs get exchanged, and the first question is always, “Who are you wearing?” Some of us can admit that we only watch for the designer gowns and stunning jewelry, but others watch to see incredible individuals recognized for outstanding work in the industry.


    Sadly, award season has become a phenomenon of appearance, not accomplishments. While we were getting consumed in Zuhair Murad gowns, a group of women were using social media to adjust our conversations. Exactly one year in the making,someone finally did #askhermore.


    Shifting a mass conversation is not easy, especially during an award show. Luckily, hashtags have helped. #Askhermore is not the first hashtag campaign to make a difference on social media, but I think we can all agree it has made an impact.


    It’s obvious why The Representation Project, the masterminds behind this campaign who work to end gender stereotyping, put this together, but the success behind it is incredible. The Representation Project gave the hashtag to the public, and left it up to us, as Twitter consumers, to make this hashtag into something. The 87th Academy Awards celebrated the second annual #askhermore campaign and what Representation Project calls, a “runaway success.”


    So, why a hashtag – what is so captivating about a simple hashtag? A hashtag is your call-to-action to your followers and audience. With a hashtag, you can follow a conversation from start to finish and even get a conversation started on national television. We have seen hashtag campaigns flop, and while it may be funny, it is terribly unfortunate for that brand. So why did #askhermore work?


    The Representation Project put a lot of work into this and others cared enough about the subject to do something for it. A well-planned campaign became the first step to having a successful hashtag campaign.


    #Askhermore first went live at the 86th Academy Awards in 2014, but saw the most results last month (February 22, 2015). The Representation Project didn’t leave their followers in the dark, they made sure they knew whom to target with their tweets. On their website, The Representation Project has a list of all the women of Hollywood, reporters with their networks and Twitter handles (of course) that were there. You can’t force people to listen, but Representation Project did make it very easy for everyone to share their message.


    #Askhermore was very active on Twitter, prior to the Academy Awards, up until the show and after. Live tweeting and engaging with followers is key to a successful campaign. #Askhermore became so active it caught the attention of Reese Witherspoon, who even took to her Instagramto support the movement. Engagement from Hollywood is huge, especially when you launch your campaign on “Hollywood’s biggest night.” #Askhermore was so successful, 27,000+ tweets (mashable.com) successful, that reporters finally came up with better questions than “Who are you wearing?”


    Equality of men and women has headlined many environments, especially in the movie industry. With a hashtag campaign, the Representation Project knew people could voice their opinions, get people to listen and engage people in a conversation that normally would not happen. It’s nature, people listen to emotional stories, we share them and we want to hear more of them. #Askhermore gave people the freedom to become involved in a movement in changing Hollywood’s conversations and starting a new one.


    A hashtag is simple — anyone can use one, anyone can start one and anyone can pass one along. In this example, The Representation Project saw a cause, an audience behind it and followed through with it and became successful in changing Hollywood in a way no one had seen before. Will reporters #askhermore next red carpet season? Or will there be another hashtag to replace that?

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