Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How a Hashtag Can Help: The #AskHerMore Campaign

#askhermore. A hashtag that engaged the public in a conversation that was long overdue. It was simple, it was honest, and it was powerful. Some of you may be familiar with its social media success, and others may simply recognize it without understanding its origin. Whatever the case, it goes without question that these three words exemplify how powerful social media can be when used correctly; especially when coupled with engagement from powerful Hollywood figures.

Nearly two months ago now, award season was monopolizing social media. Everyone is familiar with these spectacular productions and most can agree that they dominate the public’s attention, especially through social media networks. Although the purpose of these shows are to commemorate individuals for outstanding performances and work, a large portion of the audience tunes in for the pre-show; the red carpet. Those who tune in will admit to adoring the beautiful celebrities and their exquisitely expensive garments and accessories, as they wait to see who will be chosen for the “pressing” interview questions, the most famous being “Who are you wearing?”. Why has the public turned the focus of their admiration towards the segment on appearances rather than accomplishments? Even better, why are male celebrities the only ones questioned about their career aspirations, while women are asked to share diet secrets and nail colour choices? Gender stereotyping is the key culprit in this scenario, a problem that should be one of the past. And the creators of the Representation Project, and the #askhermore campaign, agree.

The #askhermore campaign commenced over a year ago, but seemed to only make waves this past February.  Without much explanation or introduction, the Representation Project – an organization working towards ending all forms of stereotyping, including gender – created this simple hashtag, allowing the public to create a conversation. The freedom to channel the conversation in any direction, paired with an important, relevant topic that a large percentage of the population was already passionate about, equalled an inevitable success.  It encouraged reporters to “snap out of it” and recognize the strength, power, and intelligence wearing these gowns, rather than solely the makers of them. It was an inclusive campaign with unlimited boundaries, making it all the more successful.  

It is beyond difficult to change a conversation that has been present for so many decades, but #askhermore seemed to do just that.  This campaign was active before, during and after the award show, and totalled over 27,000 tweets. During the award show, members of the Representation Project were responsible for Live Tweeting their followers, and making their mission abundantly clear.  This remarkable campaign was planned and perfectly executed and demonstrates a wonderful example of social media being used to spread a positive, future-changing message. The #askhermore campaign also taught users of social media engaging your audience, and using the variety of perspectives and locations to your advantage.

How does a hashtag possess so much power? The secret to its success lies in the minimal effort required to participate. The number of participants is limitless, with no one there to filter which comments will be shared. Social media has created an environment where all its participants are equal; the boundaries normally placed between celebrities and fans temporarily disappear. #askhermore encouraged participation from everyone, especially the celebrities being asked the mind-numbingly pointless questions. Engagement from Hollywood is huge, especially during an occasion with such high profile attendees. With the undeniable success of this simple yet powerful hashtag, it appears that reporters will have to go back to square one and brainstorm more thought provoking questions than just“Who are you wearing?”

Have you seen or participated in the #askhermore campaign? Do you think it can change the face of awards shows?

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