A #hashtag is now mightier than the pen and the sword, here’s why. On the eve of the bloody Brussels attacks, the Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and Vice-Prime Minister and Interior Minister Jan Jambon addressed the world, telling them what happened and the Belgian Government will do about it.

All the world was watching, and on the podium where they gave their speech was nothing but 2 prints: the hashtag #BEGOV and Federale Regering (or the Federal Government of Belgium). Nothing else. In their background, the backdrop just said Belgique and Belgie.

Notice something here? The hashtag came first. Not only that, when the media was reporting and photographers were shooting, they took close-ups of the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, and below his photo was the #BEGOV hashtag.

 #BEGOV #hashtag

(L-R) Frederic Van Leeuw, Charles Michel, Jan Jambon give a press conference in Brussels on March 22, 2016, with the #BEGOV #hashtag shown in front of them. Photo ©BELGA Nicolas Maeterlinck

This short #BEGOV went viral in no time, and in doing so, there was no need to say more to whoever wants to know more about this topic. The hashtag was enough, and there was only one hashtag to rule them all. It flew all over the world, in newspapers, TV coverage, social media posts, etc. You name it, it was there.

Did it succeed? By all means. After the TV announcement was broadcasted, a quick look at Twitter found the hashtag #BEGOV to be all over the place, everywhere.

Putting the rising power of the #hashtag to a good use

Yours truly works as a marketing copywriter for an event organizing company in UAE. My job has me coming up with new marketing and social media ideas. I jumped to the idea and convinced the project manager (PM) of a forthcoming event to jump on the #hashtag bandwagon.

Next year, we plan to move the #hashtag even higher

Next year, we plan to move the #hashtag even higher (This gorgeous in a suit is me!)

We agreed to print the event’s #hashtag on the podiums erected in conference halls. (Disclosure: I asked for it to be printed everywhere; on back drops, roll-ups, etc., but more about that later.)

Results

The event came. The podiums were erected with the 3hashtag shown loud and clear. Photos were shot of the speakers and with them were the #hashtag. Before that events, I used to have visitors and speakers approach me to ask about which #hashtag are we using for each event. This time around, that question was never raised.

On social media, we found – to our surprise – many exhibitors, international speakers, experts, academia, etc. using our #hashtag. Those tweets and updates had others reacting to them, with many of them coming to know about our event for the very first time.

No, we did not trend on the event’s days, but our #hashtag flew to totally new territories, and this – my dear reader – is any marketer’s dream. I couldn’t be any happier. The PM was convinced of the power of the #hashtag, and agreed to use the same one, print it everywhere.

Enter Dubai

Dubai government is so keen on using #hashtags

Dubai government is so keen on using #hashtags

The idea of using a #hashtag in a prominent space in your advertisements is not a new thing, but only a brave few use it. Of those, the government of Dubai, who recently started to advertise their hashtags for their activities and congresses. They use both, Arabic and English #hashtags, with some of those trending on Twitter on the day of each event.

Update: Of #hashtags & marketing

We also had an event about the oil sector and its supporting industries. In addition to using the #hashtag in more places, I suggested to show the Brent Crude Oil Price during the two days of the event on a roll-up and place it at the entrance of the paid-conference hall.

Lo and behold, and despite the low-cost production, and to my complete utter surprise: people loved the roll-up and started taking photos with it. Thankfully, the price kept going up during the 2-day event, putting smiles on many faces, especially mine. Showing the increasing price of oil – to some extent – added to the positive vibes in the event. My plan was that if the oil price crossed $50, we’d announce it on the audio voice announcement system of the hall. (Alas, we didn’t go there on that day).

Me + Brent price + the #hashtag.

Me + Brent price + the #hashtag

Hopefully, come next year, those production lads will implement the idea properly and professionally!

Now comes your turn

The #hashtag is slated to become the new brand name. You better own a #hashtag and promote it regularly and positively. I won’t be surprised if companies start registering #hashtag as trademarks in near future.