• Rob Marley

Death of A Hashtag

In its simplest form, a hashtag is like a keyword used to categorize and organize subjects, opinions, articles, etc. on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Adding a hashtag to a post allows it to be tied with posts from people around the world who’ve used that particular tag. This allows someone to find a subject by either typing it directly into a search bar, clicking on a tag to bring up everything tagged with that hashtag, or using a third-party program like TweetDeck to group them together into a feed.

A more detailed explanation of what a hashtag is can be found at Wikipedia

And by the way, you really should try TweetDeck. It’s super helpful to keep track of various people, lists and hashtags. Especially when you’re following thousands of people with a variety of subjects and interests. Its my go-to program to make sure I dont miss anything important on Twitter.

Back to hashtags.

It wasn't long ago that the hashtag "#voiceover" was a great way to keep track of what peers were doing, read articles by top professionals on how to improve your voiceover business, marketing, or voice skills, discover businesses that hire and use voice artists and be a general collecting point for all things voiceover within the Twittersphere.

But now....not so much.

Attack of the Spambots

The source of this new problem appears to be that some aspiring voiceover artists purchased a get-rich-quick program that

taught them a trick to use Twitter to get more work.

In short: the newbies discovered spam.

So now these aspiring entrepreneurs are using automated scripts to carpet-bomb the #voiceover hashtag with all the class of a sleazy used car salesman.

But here’s the thing: All they’re doing is announcing to the world how little they respect themselves and how terrible their marketing skills are.

“Twitter bombing” as it's called, is not a new phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, the earliest use was in 2008 - just 2 years after Twitter launched - by a couple of bloggers who rallied their readers to oppose offshore oil drilling. Since then, it’s become more refined, more widely used and now it appears to be sold as a marketing tactic to would-be voiceover people.

But for most Twitter users, Twitter bombing is a form of “Black Hat SEO” - an ethically-retarded tactic used to manipulate search engine results in order to drive traffic to a specific location. In this case, these wanna-be voice artists are Twitter bombing to drive traffic to their Fiverr-dot-com profile. And while the website may have some advantages for the person just getting started in voiceover, the opinion that Fiverr’s reputation as a low-ball, amateur-fueled collection of terrible VO is pretty unanimous among everyone in and around the voiceover industry. Most producers and creative directors of legitimate production companies simply laugh at the “talent” that choose to be on there. I've heard that some producers blacklist the VO's ensuring that they will never work for their production company. Hashtag Hijacking

In addition to flooding #voiceover, some would-be voice artists are adding other hashtags to their tweets.

#WoVo is a hashtag used by World Voices - a non-profit industry association for freelance voiceover talent. WoVo was founded to educate voiceover artists on best practices and set standards for ethical conduct in the voiceover industry. The spammers have been adding #wovo to some of their posts ostensibly to give them the appearance of legitimacy. But as far as I can tell, not a single newbie VO hijacking this hashtag is actually a member of WoVo - and its unlikely they could even meet the standards set by the organization when it comes to voiceover skills in the first place.

Twitter considers tweets spam based on a variety of reasons including the following:

  • Posting multiple unrelated updates to a topic using #, trending or popular topic, or promoted trend

  • Posting duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account

  • if tweets consist mainly of links, and not personal updates.

It seems to me that a lot of these “Fiver fools” meet Twitter's definition of spam to the letter.

I wonder how long they will be in existence before they’re finally shut down?

But that doesn't matter, because by that time, the individuals that thought of this little tactic and sold all those aspiring voice artists on the idea will be laughing all the way to the bank.

The point of marketing on Twitter is to be remembered by producers and directors so that you can develop a relationship and do business with them. People that are Twitter bombing their “choose me” spam will only make themselves remembered for the wrong reasons.

Will “#voiceover” ever recover from the spam coursing through it? I doubt it. There will always be someone out there trying to cash in on the naivete of new talent, and there will always be people looking for a shortcut to success. Such is the way life goes. True professionals, however, will find ways around the noise: The cream will always rise to the top. But in the meantime, we all get to watch what was once a useful hashtag become a rushing river of garbage.


About Rob Marley - A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, producer and writer, now living in the Hill Country of Austin, Texas. Find out more here.