The Death of '​#'​ and the Rise of 'Online Word of Mouth'​

Originally published in 2019, I explore the deprecation and ineffectiveness of hashtags and the rise of online word of mouth.

The Death of '​#'​ and the Rise of 'Online Word of Mouth'​
Death of Hashtags and Rise of Online Word of Mouth

Originally published on LinkedIn on January 30, 2019.

There's seems to be a big faux pas on social media by new-comers who want to become 'influencers', and brands who believe the only way to be seen or heard is through the abundance of hashtag spam. All of who seem to be way over their heads when it comes to social media marketing.

Everyone is guilty of this, including myself. It once was the only way to see relevant content your audience wanted to see, now it has become nothing more than a tool to attract automated bot accounts to gain fruitless likes and followers. Is that a good thing? Depends on whether you actually want to grow and engage the right audience or whether you want the quick 'clout', likes and followers that probably have no relevance to you or what you are promoting, bring.

Use of Hashtags on Instagram

It has probably already been stated numerous times by numerous social media 'experts' that quality matters more than quantity (excluding of course YouTube, where 10+ minute videos at a consistent orderly pace is the lifeblood of a successful YouTube channel). But that doesn't mean 'quality' actually means good, it means, engaging. Like in the past, before TrustPilot and Glassdoor became a thing, or online reviews in general there was a thing called 'word of mouth', and it's making a comeback in the digital age.

What do I mean by this? Take a look at people like '6ix9ine' @6ix9ine, is his content better than someone like, for example, Tom's from MySpace? @myspacetom (He does take very beautiful photos). Definitely not when contrasting with someone who puts effort into each post. But to the contrary, 6ix9ine is a lot more engaging. He allows his fans to play a key role in the day to day beef's he gets himself involved. It wasn't the hashtags, or even the SoundCloud music that made him internet famous which translated into real-life on TV fame, but the constant stream of engaging posts which allowed him to boost his following tenfold and then quadruple it in the millions. Who doesn't want to share the most recent post of '6ix9ine' making a mockery out of himself, and the whole gangster rap music industry as a whole to their friends? And that's how it spreads.

What can new, up and coming influencers and brands learn from this? You have to be out there, and that your content doesn't necessarily needs to be good, it just needs to be shareable. You can post the most 'out there' content, and transition into the more 'respectable' content people like Tom would post, you have to remember that on the internet, people's attention span's are shorter than that of a Goldfish and stuff you posted in the past is easily forgotten, unless there is something to be gained from bringing it up by the competition you present. Hashtags will give you a start, but your posts will be clumped together with millions of others being added every minute and only liked by those using automation tools to target their niches, even with new features being added by Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn allowing you to follow hashtags. That's not to say adding a few hashtags as a first post to your original post, to give you those few extra likes and follows isn't a bad idea either. It's just that it's not effective anymore and broadens the heard even more.

Align your content to what you want your brand or you yourself to represent in the next 6 to 12 months, and what audience niche you want to target, don't take it too serious and make sure it's engaging. That's the only way to grow big now-a-days, or, of course you can carefully put in the time and effort needed to grow slowly but surely, I just hope you have the patience.

What do you think? How would you approach growth or what methods you have used to put your name out there?