You know twitter has gone mainstream when the leader of a major Canadian political party uses the term “hashtag fail” in a federal election debate. While I’m curious to know how many people actually understood what he was talking about, the point is twitter is now unmistakably embedded in our culture.
Quick aside: in twitter, putting the # symbol beside a key word in your tweet is called a hashtag. It’s a way to categorize a tweet so that it will show up in searches for the topic you’re tweeting about (for example, #advertunities).
Lately twitter has become more than just a way to share thoughts and information. New York agency Razorfish created a real-life race for Mercedes Benz in which individual tweets powered each racing team’s car. The more tweets that used a particular team’s hashtag, the further that car could go. And it was up to the individual racing teams to encourage their fans and followers to keep tweeting so that they could win the race.
This is a great example of how to use social behavior as part of your advertising. And just think – if you can use tweets to power a car, you can pretty much set up twitter to do anything: influence the outcome of a TV show (say as a way to generate interest in a sitcom, for instance). Or change the color of a building in real time (perhaps as part of a campaign for a lighting manufacturer). Or add a layer to the world’s tallest sandwich (say as part of a stunt for a line of deli meats – my tweet would involve the hashtag #smokedturkey).
Seems the influence of a tweet is increasing every day.