How About Those TV Hashtags

A couple weeks ago I was watching Royal Pains, the dopey but cute show on the USA Network about a doctor and his brother who have moved to the Hamptons to set up a medical concierge practice for the rich and famous (sort of a Baywatch in the Hamptons), and I noticed the #royalpains hashtag in the lower left of the screen. I got out my MacBook and jumped on Twitter…and I have to admit…it was fun!

A hashtag, for those that don’t know, is a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to messages you post on Twitter. In case that confused you more: A hashtag basically allows you to make your tweet easier to find by people who are interested in the same topic. A person wanting to see what is being said about Royal Pains would just search for #royalpains. And if they want their tweet to be included in the conversation they merely include #royalpains in their 140 character post. (You can read more about hashtags here.)

What I found, when I jumped into the #royalpains conversation was a whole bunch of people saying pretty much what I had been saying to my wife…things like, she’s allergic to something in the flower garden, or, Evan’s sweater is hideous. It was as if I were suddenly watching the show with thousands of other people at the same time!

From a social marketing standpoint it’s a great way to build a community and following around a television show. Especially for viewers who may be sitting at home and watching alone. It makes the whole experience fun and entices the viewer to watch again the next week to be part of a like-minded crowd.

Here’s the marketing positives on this:

  • Hashtags are subtle enough that they don’t distract or annoy viewers who don’t know what they are or don’t care. They are usually just small watermarks in the corner of the screen.
  • Hashtags make monitoring Twitter conversations easier, thereby making it fun to be part of a group with whom you share an interest.
  • By having a dedicated hashtag (#royalpains as opposed to #royalp or #royalpainsshow) increases the chance that the conversation will start trending, or become popular. When people who don’t watch the show see that #royalpains is a popular conversation they will be curious about tuning in and watching the show. 
  • And, this is the biggie — seeing hashtags on their recorded shows may remind DVR users they’re missing out by not watching in real time.
That last bullet point could probably be the most important (and smartest) thing, when it comes to marketing. Sure, they Royal Pains people and the USA Network want you to watch the show, but it’s a whole lot better if you watch the show while it is airing live. Watching the show live, as opposed to recorded, means you also watching the commercials. Bingo! A marketer’s dream come true!
Recent studies by Yahoo and Nielsen have found 86% of mobile phone owners (and an incredible 92% of 13-24 year olds) are on their phones while watching TV. And, somewhere around 40% of those multi-taskers are browsing or updating social networking sites. Outside of those numbers the studies have shown that 53% of survey respondents use their computers to check social sites while watching TV. Imagine how those numbers will change as more and more people move to smart phones and tablets like the iPad.
So, creating a buzz and conversation around a TV show in real time means that you have also pulled all those people into the ads. And let’s not forget, these are the people with a phone or computer at their fingertips, which means all those advertisers are getting fresh hits as well.
As a marketer, I would have to say, TV hashtags are pretty damn smart! 

How Simple Brands Really Need To Be

Here’s a great video of Steve Jobs back in the day talking about how simple branding really needs to be.

Basically, he says, it all comes down to the core values. Defining them…and sticking with them.

This is at the point where the Think Different campaign was launched. Undoubtedly one of the most successful campaigns in modern history. And the genius behind it is — it did return Apple to their core values, which were demonstrated from the very beginning in the logo design by Jean Louis Gassée, an executive at Apple Computer from 1981 to 1990.

When asked about his thoughts on the Apple logo, Gassée said:

One of the deep mysteries to me is our logo, the symbol of lust and knowledge, bitten into, all crossed with the colors of the rainbow in the wrong order. You couldn’t dream of a more appropriate logo: lust, knowledge, hope, and anarchy.

Digital Marketing Explained

For anyone who is trying to get a grip on the rather confusing term “digital marketing,” I suggest picking up a copy of Digital Marketing: Strategies for Online Success by Godfrey Parkin.

Mr. Parkin does an excellent job in pulling it all together and breaks down the complex subject into easy-to-understand points and presents a comprehensive guide for success in the ever-changing world of marketing.

Some of what I consider the highlights are:

  • He gives an essential step-by-step process for developing low-risk business strategies.
  • There is a really good section on designing a website so that it can work as a successful business tool.
  • Guidelines demonstrate how to maximize the effectiveness of search engines, email marketing and online advertising.
  • The social media (or “Buzz Marketing”) chapter provides not only great ideas on how to leverage the social media beast, but includes some really compelling examples from companies that have made great progress in that realm.
  • And, Mr. Parkin gives really good advice on how to expand business brand awareness and increase sales…so it isn’t just focused on the marketing foo-foo fun stuff, but gets right down to the bottom line.
Pick it up if you have a chance. The chapter on putting together a marketing strategy has become a user guide of sorts for me.