Hashtags have long ago become a powerful tool for social marketeers. Beginning with Twitter, and moving forward to all other social network, this little character can turn a single post into a viral message viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. Keeping up with the hottest hashtags in each platform is invaluable for understanding the online buzz and what people are talking about. Following a very hectic couple of months with the ice bucket challenge, Scotland independence vote and the sudden death of Robin Williams, we thought it would be interesting to compare the top hushtags of August and September 2014, and see how current events affect the ongoing viral buzz on Twitter. Using the ‘Popular Pages’ feature of SimilarWeb PRO, we’ve managed to identify the most visited hashtag pages on Twitter.
The news dominates the world of hashtags for August 2014 and indicates that, today, people are inclined to rush online and discuss world events in a public forum.
The most popular hashtag was #Ferguson which relates to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. A slightly different case variation of #ferguson was also the third most popular hashtag and proves that this offline incident caused a lot of interest online.
The second most popular hashtag was #IceBucketChallenge and involved the world wide charity phenomenon of the ice bucket challenge; this particular subject also charted at the number 6 position with a variant of #ALSIceBucketChallenge. The success of this particular topic shows how the online community wants to get involved in online interactive events.
The death of Robin Williams also proved to be a popular hashtag as the world mourned his passing – #RIPRobinWilliams ranked at number 4 and #RobinWilliams at number 10. Twitter, therefore, can be seen as providing a fertile environment for tributes and reminiscing.
Other popular topics for August included the fictional death of a TV character (#RIPMona), discussion about series 16 of Big Brother (#BB16) and one Arabic entry which translates to #IslamicState.
Comparing September to August, we can see clearly the short life span that characterizes a hashtag, no matter how popular it is. However, the pattern remains the same – the most popular hashtags in September 2014, like August 2014, all revolved around the big news stories.
September 2014’s most popular hashtag was #AppleLive; this hashtag illustrated just how interested the public were in finding out about the new launch products from Apple. The interest generated by this story shows that the electronics and gadgets market is very popular with users of Twitter.
The death of Argentinian musician Gustavo Cerati, on September 4th 2014, saw #HastaSiempreCerati becoming the second most popular hashtag of the month. Much like Robin Williams the month before, Twitter found itself becoming a public shrine to Gustavo Cerati as the public grieved his passing.
The third most popular hashtag was #HiroAndMitchLoveStoryOnMMK which was a TV show from the Philippines regarding the real life Madlum River Tragedy. The dramatization of a recent tragedy highlights how recent, engaging content can capture the online imaginations. The popularity of this hashtag ensures that the reputation of TV being an event is still firmly in place.
Other news stories popping up in the top 15 included Scotland’s vote on independence (#ScotlandDecides), remembering the 9/11 attacks (#911anniversary) and one Japanese entry (#盗んだバイクで走り出すっぽい言葉).
Although the specific subjects of the most popular hashtags changed beyond all recognition within a month, the themes remained constant. Big news stories dominated and the subthemes of these can be broken down into worldwide news, public obituaries and entertainment news. It’s also interesting to note that the Western world does not have a complete monopoly on the most popular hashtags – Japanese and Arabic hashtags also managed to breach the top 15. We have only shown the 15 most popular hashtags here, but SimilarWeb PRO can provide much more lengthy results.
How NOT to use Hashtags in your social marketing strategy
Although there’s a golden opportunity in each of these hashtags, online marketers have to plan their strategy around them carefully. A misuse of a hashtag may because an embarrassing experience for a brand. The recent #hashtagwhyistayed incident, is a good example for such a misuse. It’s not that complicated – if it’s a sensitive subject, and your product doesn’t have direct relation to that subject, don’t use it.