Over the past few years, social media sites have begun to integrate the hashtag into their everyday use. Twitter used the hashtag to show what popular topics were being talked about, and sites such as Facebook and Instagram also followed suit. Tumblr and WordPress users put tags in a post to see what other users have to say about a similar subject. So in this information age, what’s a better way to get people talking about your show or product than including it on TV? In 2012, people of ages 15 and over watched 2.8 hours of TV a day. Promoting a hashtag on television seems like a good idea to reach a large audience, but in fact, it currently grinds my gears.
“Why don’t you just watch TV shows that don’t use hashtags?,” you may ask me. It is not that I am necessarily annoyed by the promotion of topics. In fact, in the 21st century, I think it is quite smart of the marketing teams to take advantage of the technology available to them. By promoting a conversation on air, it could spark discussions online about the topic wanted by marketing teams.
Rather, what warrants a blog post about suggested hashtags is the corny ones TV shows, commercials and even news programs choose. Take HLN (Headline News network) for example. To get younger viewers excited about incoming college acceptance letters, they encouraged high school students to tweet and post photos to Instagram using the hashtag #accepted to show off college acceptance letters. Getting into college is something that should be celebrated and is a huge accomplishment. But, I do not think it is smart for teenagers to post photos of acceptance letters with their addresses and full names online. Call me crazy, but that is just a hunch.
Over in the primetime TV world, networks promote hashtags throughout popular programs to get even more of an audience from an online perspective. CBS, ABC and NBC all use this method. ABCFamily produces the most hilarious and weirdly specific hashtags to get viewers talking on the Internet. I would know — I am an avid viewer of ABCFamily’s programs.
Take “Pretty Little Liars” for example. For the previous couple of weeks, I had not watched “Pretty Little Liars” as I opted to see the Olympics instead. But, I have been binge watching the three weeks’ worth of episodes and am currently caught up. The Feb. 18 episode boasted hashtags such as #SpencerTells, #TellAria, #LiarsAreTrapped. These are in addition to the typical irritating hashtags like #Redcoat, #AlisAlive and #letscombimethesetwonamestomakeitacouplename. While I find these obnoxious, some of them do pertain to the situation going on in the show. But more often than not, they are just superfluous.
This hashtag trend has even been a standing joke with BuzzFeed. The website is known for making articles which are primarily comprised of lists. While there are only three posts thus far, it is a musing to see I am not the only worn out with intrusive hashtags. BuzzFeed takes a mocking tone — including how bothersome “Pretty Little Liars” becomes after a while — it is amusing to see how silly suggestive hashtags have become.
Even CBS gets specific when promoting hashtags on air. While I have basically given up on the reality TV front, my mother has not. “The Amazing Race” is one of her favorites, right behind the on-air-too-long, “Survivor.” Instead of watching the Sochi closing ceremonies, for kicks and giggles, I settled in and decided to watch the All Stars edition of “Amazing Race.” Every time a group came to a roadblock, detour, route information, fast forward or express pass, these all instantly became suggested hashtags. But do not worry; there are even more clues in the show that will more than likely also pop up in hashtag form.
Though I do not watch many shows that use suggested hashtags on a regular basis, it does receive a 1 on my annoyance scale because it is not the most obnoxious thing I have experienced. There is always the option for me to change the channel. I can ignore the subtle white text in the upper left corner of the screen telling me #TyIsBack (eh, “Switched At Birth” fans?). But, blatant hashtags popping up every time something dramatic happens in a show — and with oddly specific subjects included — currently #grindmygears.