A Hashtag is Worth a Thousand Words: An Empirical Investigation of Social Media Strategies in Trademarking Hashtags

Posted: 7 Jul 2017

See all articles by Naveen Kumar

Naveen Kumar

School of Business, University of Washington Bothell; University of Memphis

Liangfei Qiu

University of Florida - Warrington College of Business Administration

Subodha Kumar

Temple University - Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management

Date Written: July 5, 2017

Abstract

Firms of all sizes are trying to “join the conversation” on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, and are increasingly trademarking hashtags related to their products and brands. This new practice of trademarking hashtags has produced an important opportunity for empirical investigation. Trademarking hashtags can be a double-edged sword for firms that want their posts to go viral but also want to protect their brand reputation by restricting the use of their material. This study examines the impact of trademarking a hashtag on a firm’s social media audience engagement. By adopting multiple causal identification strategies to address the issues of self-selected trademarking, we find that trademarking hashtags plays a pivotal role in increasing social media audience engagement and information dissemination. More importantly, this positive effect is stronger for firms with fewer Twitter followers. We also dig deeper into the underlying mechanisms and find that trademarking hashtags makes writing tweets with certain linguistic styles more critical. More specifically, trademarking hashtags can amplify both the contemporaneous and lagged effects of writing tweets with desirable linguistic styles on social media audience engagement. Our findings have direct managerial implications: To maximize the effectiveness of trademarking hashtags, firms should develop the right social media engagement strategies by taking specific communication and linguistic styles into account.

Keywords: hashtag, trademark, social media, context-free linguistic features, information dissemination

Suggested Citation

Kumar, Naveen and Qiu, Liangfei and Kumar, Subodha, A Hashtag is Worth a Thousand Words: An Empirical Investigation of Social Media Strategies in Trademarking Hashtags (July 5, 2017). Mays Business School Research Paper No. 2997653. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2997653

Naveen Kumar (Contact Author)

School of Business, University of Washington Bothell ( email )

18115 Campus Way NE
Bothell, WA 98011
United States

University of Memphis ( email )

Memphis, TN 38152-3370
United States

Liangfei Qiu

University of Florida - Warrington College of Business Administration ( email )

Gainesville, FL 32611
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/qiuliangfei/

Subodha Kumar

Temple University - Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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