#HelpUs. The rise of social media is a phenomenon that a lot of people are still getting used to and aren’t entirely sure how to capture, yet hashtag slogans have played a very large role in #Election2016. You’re probably familiar with #FeelTheBern or #NeverTrump but do you think that these were just happy accidents created by teenage interns with smart phones glued to their hands? #Nope. Entire teams of marketing executives spend countless hours and thousands of dollars to come up with witty one-liners in the hope that they go viral. But what’s interesting is how much impact a good hashtag movement can actually have on global events.
You’d think that funny tweets would come second to good policy and political views, but all branding has a significant influence on voters’ unconscious views. #ImWithHer is used by the Hillary Clinton campaign as an unsubtle yet effective reminder that she is the only female candidate running for the presidency. #FeelTheBern wasn’t created by Bernie Sanders’ team but has now been adopted thanks to its immense popularity among young people, the cleverness of the pun and the imagery that it evokes of the fires of revolution. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain is a bold slogan by Donald Trump which stolen from Ronald Reagan’s campaign and turned into a hashtag, and has been taken up enthusiastically by conservative Trump and Reagan fans.
The reason hashtags are an increasingly powerful tool is because they’re built on a platform that represents an even playing field; organizers can connect to and be seen by anyone even if they don’t have access to more traditional and costly forms of engagement. But if a hashtag slogan doesn’t have the support of enough people then no amount of money can change that, like Jeb Bush’s #JebCanFixIt. That makes the effectiveness of a hashtag social movement extremely difficult to predict. Some even argue that hashtag activism is all talk and no action, like #BringBackOurGirls or #Kony2012. And some hashtags are purely for entertainment purposes, like the inevitable combination of politics and cats in #TrumpYourCat. So is it the cool slogans or the charisma and policies of the political candidates that have translated into so many votes? #YouDecide.
Is your smart phone glued to your hand right now? #TakeABreak. Movie for your mood: The Social Network