It’s the Twitter trend taking the Internet by storm: hashtag games, or what we call The Hunger Games of the social media world. Why the nickname? Because like many social trends, hashtag games entice brands and Twitter users to duke it out in a battle of wits. A battle where you depend on your benefactors (Twitter users) for survival (retweets and favorites).
Why do hashtag games trend? If nothing else, people are enticed to participate in a conversation for two reasons: a sense of community and the chance to get their voice heard. If you think your #ReplaceAMovieTitleWithGoat tweet, “The Goatbook,” “You’ve Goat Mail,” “How to Lose a Goat in 10 Days,” (take your pick) is genius, you’re probably going to tweet it to see who else agrees. Everyone wants to be that random witty guy, or brand, whose punny tweet received dozens of favorites and retweets. But how? Get ready because we’re about to tell you how to harness your inner Katniss Everdeen.
While hashtags have many purposes from categorizing topics, promoting an event or product or simply branding yourself, hashtag games are a clear winner on the list of effective uses for engagement. They allow Twitter users to be creative and relate something normal (a movie title) with a humorous addition (goats). Who doesn’t love a good play on words?
Hashtag games, while trending more and more recently, are actually not a new thing. In fact, hashtag games were popular in 2010 and 2011 when the purpose of the hashtag was still being figured out by many new Twitter users. But once celebrities started jumping in, this trend continued to grow. Jimmy Fallon is one celeb known for kicking off viral hashtag games including #MomQuotes, #WorstGiftEver, #MisheardLyrics, #WhyImSingle and #WhyDontTheyMakeThat.
Brands from Arby’s to Charmin to the NHL are participating in hashtag games. Take a look at these brands who had way too much fun with the #FiveWordsToRuinADate hashtag game.
Beyond their date-ruining nightmares, brands also participated in #MyDreamIn5Words (Charmin), #RejectedTVShowNames (Charmin) and crowdsourcing them (Charmin), #RejectedRapperNames (Charmin), #MakeAMovieSmarter (Charmin), #EveryVillainNeeds (Charmin), and #IfThe80sNeverStopped (Sheetz, Craftsman Tools and more). Clearly, Charmin knows how to play the game and play it well.
The art of participating in a hashtag game is a delicate one. Delicate, but swift. Are you looking to grab that millennial audience? Hashtag games could be a great opportunity for your brand. Why do hashtag games work? According to Twitter, “Millennials rely on Twitter to banish boredom and they use Twitter because it brings fun and laughter into their lives. Nearly half (47%) agree that Twitter means “laughing” or “a cure for boredom,” and when they come across a funny Tweet, most (82%) share it.
Twitter also says, “When appropriate, don’t hesitate to share humorous content — especially when it shows off inside knowledge of your target audience. For example, while “5SOS” may not be a familiar term to some of us, Denny’s knew that it stood for 5 Seconds of Summer, an Australian pop punk band beloved by millennials. They included the reference in this funny Tweet.” In addition to this, the same study showed that the top categories millennials tweet about include random thoughts (67%), fun activities (57%), current events (53%) and jokes/humor (46%). Often time’s hashtag games loop in many of these categories and that’s why they’re successful. So, take it from Twitter, they know what creates buzz.
If it makes sense for your brand to jump on the currently trending hashtag game, do it quick and do it well. Remember that by participating in a nationally or regionally trending hashtag can bring in new fans and engagement, but be mindful that not all new fans will be quality fans. Also, be sure that you follow the hashtag closely as it evolves. Sometimes playful hashtag games such as #ReplaceAMovieTitleWithGoat can turn bad.
So next time you’re looking for some fun engagement, check Twitter’s left sidebar or the Discover Tab for trending hashtag games or simply follow @TheHashtagGame to keep up with this highly-addictive game.
Happy hashtag games! May the hashtags be ever in your favor.
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