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The Smarter Way to Hashtag

In this hyper–connected world, technology is mobilizing people towards progress and change faster than ever. Social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram, allow us to share our stories quickly and effectively with the simple click of a hashtag.

Today, “femvertising” is trending hotter than anything else. Hundreds of brands have jumped on the gender equality bandwagon, but apart from the strategic advertising, the messages these commercials and trending hashtags deliver are spurring change. From spreading news regarding global gender equality issues to advocating for positivity and support, these simple hashtags are garnering huge support and awareness toward the empowerment of women and gender equality campaigns.

Hashtags such as #ThisGirlCan and #HeForShe have turned movements centered on gender equality and female empowerment into waves of interconnected communities working to impact gender disparity issues on a global scale. Developed by a physical fitness activism organization, Sport England, and its partners, #ThisGirlCan represents a specific campaign of the same name dedicated to celebrating athleticism and health in girls and women.

Based in the UK, the campaign is funded in part by The National Lottery, UK: The prolific hashtag and Twitter account is powered by the sweepstakes and lottery site. Together, this brand and organization are building an empire of supporting women in exercise and athletics.

Launched by UN Women and its ambassadors as part of the organization’s Solidarity Movement, #HeForShe is spreading its message of gender equality, human rights, and anti–violence. The hashtag was popularized by the illustrious Emma Watson, who serves as a UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador. Watson has 23.7 million followers on Twitter, and her support has garnered millions to participate in #HeForShe and UN Women campaigns.

It is a well–known fact that using empowering hashtags is also a marketing tactic used by some of the biggest brands in business. A prime example is the feminine hygiene company, Always, and their commercial #LikeAGirl. The commercial has earned over 63 million views on YouTube, and while the strategy served as a successful marketing technique, it also opened the conversation of limiting or changing gender disparaging remarks used in everyday language.

Another recent hashtag premiered in a commercial advertising the NFL playoffs. The commercial featured real–life dads playing Barbie with their daughters with the hashtag, #DadsWhoPlayBarbie, attached. The ad was a part of Barbie’s “You Can Be Anything” campaign, which focuses on encouraging girls to pursue anything and ignore gender-related stigmas. According to Mattel, the commercial is also meant to stifle the negative stigmas surrounding fathers playing with dolls and to “normalize dads playing with their daughters and their dolls.”

Other empowering hashtags, rather than being launched from brands or celebrities, were conceived from moments of injustice, making gender equality issues visible across the world. Hashtags such as #SelfieWithDaughter, launched in India, promoted gender equality and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also promoted the hashtag as a campaign to address India’s gender gap.

In 2016, the hashtag #HarassedAtWork was popularized when women in the UK began tweeting stories of experiencing sexual harassment at work, spreading awareness of harassment in the workplace.

All in all, it’s clear that while “femvertising” remains a successful marketing strategy, the empowering hashtags go beyond sales revenue and commercialism; they make a real impact on real people.

Featured Image by magicatwork on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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