Twitter’s Hashtag Pages Could Be The New AOL Keywords — But Better

Earlier today, Twitter made its most aggressive grab for TV marketing dollars, with the release of a TV ad during the Pocono 400 and the launch of the corresponding hashtag page.

I said at the time that the campaign reminds me somewhat of those AOL keywords that used to get tagged about during commercials and at the end of television episodes. See, once upon a time AOL — loving parent of this wonderful tech blog — was the way that a good part of the American population got onto this thing called the Internet. And so, for a time it was the go-to place to find out more about all your favorite brands, products, TV shows, movies — you name it.

See Twitter, like AOL before it, wants to be the destination for users who wish to engage with a certain brand. It wants to own the URL that runs at the end of an ad. Actually, scratch that — it wants to own the hashtag that appears during the ad or TV show, to become synonymous with where the conversation happens.

Now, Twitter isn’t the on-ramp to the Internet that AOL was… But it’s got something even better: Twitter has a base of very vocal and very engaged users. And these users are essentially creating a ton of content, which smart brands are starting to leverage to promote their goods and services. In a way, it’s already the place where brand conversation happens.

That’s what’s so brilliant about #NASCAR and what we can only assume will be future hashtag landing pages: The brands themselves don’t have to actually create anything new. Without actually knowing what happens on the back end of a hashtag page, it seems clear that Twitter has built a pretty slick way to curate and repurpose content that is being tweeted out by its users.

Unlike AOL Keywords — and today’s rough equivalent, Facebook Pages — where the onus is on the brand to create, upload, and promote the most compelling content, Twitter’s managed to get its users to do the hard work for brands. Now all the brands have to do is surface those conversations, make them available in an easy-to-read way. #NASCAR shows how that can be done pretty successfully.

It’s the act of curation rather than creation which is why I think Twitter’s strategy has legs, and why it could beat out other methods of social marketing. Because at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than getting your biggest fans to promote your brand for you.