Black Lives Matter has recently become even more prominent in the media after the death of George Floyd. Mass protests sweeping the world with their symbols and slogans have caught both the media’s and the public’s attention. Given that there are many social justice causes, and a tremendous amount of content already online, how did Black Lives Matter accomplish this feat? The days are long gone when activists need to call up a coordinator to report civil rights violations or organize protests. Black Lives Matter successfully utilizes hashtags to coordinate mass communications in a manner from which we could all take notes!
Black Lives Matter originated back in 2013, when an African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin, died after being shot by a man, George Zimmerman, in Florida. The individual who kicked off the movement did so by simply posting “#blacklivesmatter” in her response to Zimmerman being found not guilty of murder due to Florida’s “stand your ground” laws.
Other activists realized that this hashtag connoted significant meaning. It followed in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, Jr., who used the strategy of simply publicizing injustices that occurred against African-Americans in his time. Though it is far easier to post a hashtag than it was for Dr. King to get the public’s attention, the hashtag had the same end result.
This hashtag rapidly grew in popularity as people who believed another injustice against an African-American had gone unpunished joined forces. Realizing they were not alone, this led to countless groups being formed on social media in favor of the cause. Ironically, many against the #blacklivesmatter movement used the hashtag when propagating hate, which was the initial activist’s exact intent.
As a result of the hashtag taking off, it’s often used to signal when there is a similar incident. Even several years later, it’s only growing in popularity and is utilized in several instances of police brutality against African-Americans to generate public awareness of the ongoing issue.
Applying Hashtag Use to Marketing
In short, a powerful and meaningful hashtag tied to your brand can increase public awareness. If the hashtag is something that matters to many people and is original, it could even end up being the big break your business needed to spread your message. If one hashtag seven years ago has resulted in the awareness of the majority of the public and the engagement of millions, then the possibilities of your own unique hashtag are endless!
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