Hashtags, commonly known in its symbolic form of #, increasingly play a vital role in digital communication with its technological affordances to gather relevant data, fostering engagement and creating social groups based on a topic, whether it is an event, genre or discussion of a person. With social media strategy closely integrated with the production of short film for my digital story, I have carried out research on relevant hashtags intended to address my target audience and attract more viewerships. As my digital story is central to the genre of thriller and mystery, I have found some interesting insights from my research.
It has been found out that tweets tagged with #thriller are dominantly addressed to the conversation of fiction novels and short stories based on such genre. This is evident as seen with the media texts that are encompasses of quotes extracted from books, users’ current progress on the novel’s storyline and short reviews within 140 characters (or separated into several continuous tweets). In addition to that, tweets tagged with #thriller frequently include images of book covers and links to website for purchase. According to Hashtagify–an online hashtag tracking tool, the 10 hashtags most commonly related to #thriller include #suspense, #mystery and #crime (as pictured below). However, it is surprising to find that #ASMSG (Author Social Media Support Group) came in top with 14% correlation to #thriller, followed by #suspense and #mystery with 13.4% and 11.9% respectively. In this sense, it can be perceived that using #thriller runs in a risk of addressing the authors’ community rather than films (or short films) audiences. This is unexpected where even though using a genre focused hashtag can refer to various related medium including films and music videos, authors and fiction novels are mainly dominating in this topic.
In addition to that, Hashtag.org has also listed the top 10 influencers for #thriller, #mystery and #suspense respectively. What’s interesting is the similarity in the list of top influencers, which has been dominated by authors (with some appearing twice in two different list) and only one or two community network. This highlights the importance of recognised individuals who are handling the account that raises their position as influencers on a topic. As you can see above, it is interesting to see how popularity of hashtags related to authors and books (#ASMSG, #IARTG, #kindle and #ebook) triumphed over the #thriller, #mystery and #crime.
In conclusion, this research offers me a better understanding of the potentials of hashtags intended for my digital story’s social media strategy. The outcomes of my research has significantly shown that it is unsafe to assume that using hashtags related to my digital story does not signifies it will address my target audiences effectively, since #thriller is largely used by authors and book lovers community. Furthermore, while related hashtags can be useful to expand outreach of our tweets to wider community, its impact may not be significant if they could not reach out to your target audience. For my digital story, it would be more beneficial to include other hashtags such as #shortfilm, #filmmaking or #DeadRoad (short film’s title) that are more specific as compared to genre focused hashtags, although hashtags such as #suspense and #mystery have higher popularity within Twitter platform.