Twitter’s hashtags have been used as comment collectors on a wide variety of topics, from the Egyptian revolution to the release of a new song. Now, the microblogging empire is setting up hashtags specifically for events.
On Sunday, the company ran its first TV commercial as part of its first-ever official sports partnership. In that commercial, NASCAR racer Brad Keselowski photographed the view from the seat of his car with his iPhone, which allows him to post to Twitter. Twitter’s next six TV ads will also focus on NASCAR.
In February, Keselowski, who came in 24th, acquired over 100,000 Twitter followers in less than two hours when he tweeted updates and photos of an explosion and fire on the NASCAR track in the Daytona 500.
The commercial concluded with Twitter.com/#NASCAR, which took some observers by surprise. Twitter.com/NASCAR is the more expected form, which would lead to the profile page for NASCAR. The race in which Keselowski was participating was officially called the Pocono 400 Presented by #NASCAR.
NASCAR has no control over the comments at that hashtag, making it event-oriented around that race and not brand-oriented. Twitter explained the distinction in an email sent to news media.
‘Algorithms and Curation’
On its official blog, Twitter previewed the NASCAR partnership late last week. It noted that “a combination of algorithms and curation will surface the most interesting Tweets to bring you closer to all of the action,” with comments from NASCAR drivers and their families, crews, commentators, celebrities and fans in one timeline.
The Twitter hashtag in general has been compared to the use of AOL keywords in long-gone advertising, and to today’s use of a Facebook URL.
A key difference in the event-oriented hashtag is that comments will be chosen by Twitter’s staff and software, so submitting your best tweet -- and getting even more personally invested in that event --becomes a welcome challenge for that event’s followers. One of the biggest issues from marketers’ point-of-view about social media has been that comment streams can contain a large proportion of indiscriminate musings.
Along with Facebook and YouTube, Twitter is a member of the reigning trilogy of social media. It allows users to send tweets up to140 characters long, and has grown into a huge array of celebrities, brands and regular users posting their brief thoughts, along with photos, Web links, and other content, which are then followed by their fans or friends.