Social Destinations and Branded Communities

Morgan Gress

Category: Strategy


During the 2012 NASCAR Pocono Race, Twitter released its first-ever television commercial, touting the new hashtag pages. The ad, geared toward larger companies, was a part of a marketing strategy designed to increase ad revenue on Twitter.

Built for larger events, such as concerts, political debates, or sporting events, the hashtag page creates a better-filtered system of hashtags and content. However, organizations ranging from non-profits to major league sports have been doing something similar for events and marketing. In 2010, NJI Media used hashtags to run an election party, and various companies have recently begun building online branded social experiences.

But, really, what does that even mean?

It means that companies are capitalizing on conversations surrounding their brands, and creating online, social experiences to foster those conversations. Twitter provides promotional resources like follow suggestions, branded pages, and the new hashtag page. However, these features don’t always fit the needs of marketers, so many organizations create their own social hubs.

TaylorMade Golf and ESPN’s MLB Twitter hub pages are two excellent examples of companies that have curated entire communities that drive the conversation to a marketer’s sweet spot: precisely where the brand intersects with its audience’s interests is where the companies want to be. These sites are branded, and even more importantly, they include beneficial features, like lists of players to follow, hashtags to use, and photo-sharing features. Users entering these online communities are immediately connected to two parts of the puzzle: things they love, and people with similar interests. Eventually, these hubs develop into destinations that make engagement easy, while simultaneously reinforcing a positive experience with the company.

Creating a platform separate from Twitter’s hashtag pages puts more creative control in the hands of the company. These platforms also allow for better metrics, and the capabilities to follow influential conversations. While Twitter’s new hashtag pages are excellent for specific events, the pages are entirely overseen by Twitter, and may not be best for a long-range, continuous branding effort.

Twitter hashtag pages are great for large events, but companies that create their own social destinations and branded communities provide greater benefits to their audience, and have more control over their brand. With several large events on the horizon — including the Olympics and the 2012 presidential election — it remains to be seen whether Twitter will add more features to the hashtag pages. One thing’s for certain, though: you can bet that the NJI Media strategy team will continue to track just how creative companies will get with these increasingly important online social experiences.

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