The Six Most Attention Grabbing Hashtags of 2014
Dec 12, 2014 admin
Hashtags. You see them in almost every form of communication these days. Your friend from high school tweets that it was #legday at the gym and your cousin posts about their #blessed weekend. Jimmy Fallon even has an ongoing skit where he and the guest on his show that night talk exclusively in hashtags. In fact, you can barely watch a TV show without being shown its hashtag encouraging viewers to join the conversation (thank you #PeterPanLive). If you’re trying to be cute about not really apologizing, #sorrynotsorry is a good one, but it’s not all snark like at Thanksgiving, when we are all #thankful.
So what were the most attention grabbing hashtags of 2014? These are my picks:
- #ALSIceBucketChallenge – This summer the #ALSIceBucketChallenge was inspired by Pete Frates, former baseball captain at Boston College. Pete Frates was diagnosed with ALS. The challenge consisted of individuals dumping ice water over their heads to support ALS and then challenging other friends to do the same or donate (or do both!). First it was just everyone’s friends and family taking part in the challenge and then quickly got the attention of Hollywood: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Neil Patrick Harris to name a few (those are really just a few, so many celebrities took the challenge!). To date, the #ALSIceBucketChallenge has raised more than $100 million for ALC research. In fact, Cathy Corwin recently included the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in her #breaktheinternet post.
- #Sochi – The Winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia this year and seemed as if the conversation around the games started before the games actually started. There was controversy around the 51 billion dollar price tag and concern that the city would even be ready for the games. Then, the stories of the poor accommodations of journalists came pouring in and another hashtag was created - #SochiProblems. That hashtag took off so fast that an account for @SochiProblems was quickly set up. Once the games started, people couldn’t stop talking about Bob Costas’ pink eye and the dangerous courses plaguing the athletes. All in all, the games went smoothly but social media sure had fun following the drama.
- #BringBackOurGirls - At a UNESCO event on April 23 Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, the vice president of the World Bank for Africa, gave a speech for the opening ceremony honoring the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt as the 2014 World Book Capital City. In her speech, she mentioned the recent kidnapping of over 200 school-age girls, issuing the call to “bring back our daughters.” A Nigerian lawyer named Ibrahim M Abdullahi was watching the streamed speech in Abuja (the nation’s capital), and phrased Dr. Ezekwesili’s emotive words on Twitter using the hashtags #BringBackOurDaughters and #BringBackOurGirls. He unknowingly sparked an online social activism campaign that was top news story across the world. Soon, the likes of Michelle Obama, Mary J. Blige, Amy Poehler, and Hillary Clinton were joining the conversation but voicing their support. The social movement was called a lesson in Twitter activism.
- #RIPRobinWilliams – Towards the end of the summer, beloved actor Robin Williams passed away at the age of 63. As soon as the news was announced via social media, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were flooded with quotes and images from his great films (Mrs. Doubtfire anyone?). Disney posted a tribute to their Facebook page and it took off like wildfire. They also scheduled viewings of Aladdin on their channel with the tribute at the end. There was also much social conversation around the matter of his death but we’d rather keep this mention a positive one.
- #MH370 – In March, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 departing from Kuala Lumpur and scheduled to arrive in Beijing disappeared into mid-air. Literally. Air traffic control received the aircraft's last message when it was over the South China Sea, less than an hour after takeoff and hasn’t been heard from since. Social media took off with theories of what could have happened (my personal favorite was one that connected the disappearance to LOST, the classic ABC drama). Even Courtney Love was making her theories heard, offering herself up as an expert. To date, the plane is still missing.
- #Ferguson – In August, an unarmed teen named Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MI. It soon sparked a fire on traditional and especially social media. As Brown was an unarmed, black teenager and Office Darren Wilson (whose name wasn’t released to the public for quite some time) was white, a race war was ignited. Protesters and people who just wanted to get the story were following and engaging with the #Ferguson hashtag. Many of the speculations around what really happened, who saw what, played out via social media as it usually does with this type of news. On the evening of November 24, it was announced that Officer Wilson would not be indicted for the murder of Michael Brown which only ignited the fire more both on the streets of Ferguson (and other large U.S. cities) and on social media.
So there you have it, 2014 as told by a handful of the year’s most attention grabbing hashtags (for more about the top hashtags and happenings of 2014, check out this blog from Twitter). I for one am looking forward to see what conversations gain traction in 2015. #SeeYouLater2014