Why we love making a hash of it

It’s a new year! And so we’d like to wish you all a very happy one, and indeed hope that you already are having one. We’re going to start 2018 with a little quiz for you, because as you all know by now, we here at Small Man Media do like a quiz.

It’s a pretty simple one really: All you have to do is name what you think were decided to be the BBC’s three most dominant hashtags on Twitter in 2017. We’ll give you a somewhat cryptic clue and tell you that all of them, in some small way, relate to Donald Trump.

We’ll just wait here for a few minutes while you think it over.

Donald Trump: You really have to hand it to him
Donald Trump: You really have to hand it to him

Okay, do you have your final answer?

Right then. If you answered hashtags that in some way relate to Star Wars, Theresa May or the petition to rename a street with a rather rude name, then I’m afraid you are not close and so win no cigar. If, however, you went for #metoo, #takeaknee and #covfefe then you can go straight to the top of the class.

So you can probably see how Trump, in some small way, relates to three hashtags that, between them, racked up a good seven million tweets in a running total that is still climbing by the hour. The first one, and by far the most utilised, was of course #metoo, a hashtag that threw a harsh spotlight on sexual harassment, something which President Trump is apparently happy to encourage. The second, #takeaknee, originated as a peaceful way in which to respectfully challenge institutional racism in the United States, mainly via the medium of sport, and this, of course, President Donald found absolutely outrageous. So: Sexual harassment, fine. Peaceful and respectful racism protests: Totally beyond the pale!

NFL stars take a knee, and everyone on social media decides to #takeaknee
NFL stars take a knee, and everyone on social media decides to #takeaknee

And finally, bless his cotton socks, there was DT’s extremely peculiar tweeting of the phrase ‘covfefe’ which rapidly became a hashtag sensation all of its own, serving as a salutary reminder to us all that the most powerful man in the world is a lunatic who invents his own words and that we must all laugh at his planet-sized idiocy. What’s particularly brilliant about #covfefe was that the preponderance of the hashtag led to this meaningless word entering the cultural lexicon as short-hand for, well, any meaningless word at all. If that’s not an indicator of the power of the hashtag, we’re jiggered if we know what is.

Good point, well made,Mr President
Good point, well made, Mr President

Hashtags. They’re an interesting thing. The received wisdom is that Twitter has somehow plateaued, and indeed did so a while ago and faces a slow and ignominious slide into obscurity. And yet if this were truly the case, why is it that such simple hashtags – totalling just 21 letters between them – can become front page and TV news? In a sense, it seems to be telling us that, much like the pen is always mightier than the sword, then the hashtag is more powerful than the tweet.

The thing about hashtags is that they are simple, often devastatingly effective, tend to just flourish organically, and create an instant sense of unity on a given theme, which is much less the case with ‘original’ tweets. Hashtags are inclusive – ‘I agree with the sentiments expressed here or get on board with this phenomenon’ – where tweets can be rather exclusive – ‘Damn, I wish I’d thought of saying that, why can’t I get these RT numbers?’

This being a blog in which we started with a ‘top three’ hashtags, we’re going to end with another top three, namely the top three Small Man Media hashtags from 2017. The first two are perhaps not surprising – they’re #nationalstationeryweek and #worldstationeryday, both of them massive ‘event’ hashtags with a commensurately massive social media uptake. But the third was something of a surprise package, of which we (and in particular Dynamite Dan, who had the idea) are very proud because, well, WE STARTED IT.

And here it is – #crosspenhunt. A tiny little hashtag that made waves. The idea behind it was a touch on the insane side, but it worked, as crazy ideas sometimes do if they’re touched with genius. In a nutshell: A special Cross pen, with a tracking device in it, was hidden in a London location. Via the #crosspenhunt hashtag, and the subsequent clues that it threw up, social media users were able to… Well, to hunt the pen, with a substantial prize at the end of it (not just a pen). Simple, effective, easy to remember, and of course, that sense of unity for the participants we mentioned earlier. That’s how to hash it up.

Before we go, it would be remiss of us to not mention our first significant hashtag of 2018, namely #crossofficedogoftheyear. This (as you might guess) is to accompany the Cross Office Dog Of The Year competition, which kick-started this week, in which Cross Pens are searching for the greatest workplace-based dog in the UK. It could be you! Or rather, it could be your dog. Stay tuned for more information, and indeed hashtags – or should that be dog-tags? – in the coming weeks…


You can find us on Twitter @smallmanmedia and on Facebook at facebook.com/smallmanmedia and our door is always open to discuss subjects like the power of a good hashtag and how it can help your business out. We have many, many types of tea and biscuits too.

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