Portlandia: Use Hashtags to Drive Conversation Around Your Brand

Feb 11 2011

Portlandia gets rave reviews from locals and TV critics for its satire of Mambo Media’s hometown. Now, we weigh in on the creative and contagious way IFC has used hashtags in Twitter to ensure the show gets buzz.

Most use hashtags as a way to tap into the larger conversation on Twitter, but many brands don’t realize that with a bit of creativity, they can also use trending hashtags to drive the conversation around their product or brand. Portlandia’s use of #putabirdonit is a great example.

Portlandia was already on top of their game, monitoring Twitter for mentions of their name, and paying attention to the hashtags that Tweeps were gravitating toward.

For a while the only hashtag in real use was #Portlandia, but after the “Put A Bird on It” clip was released on January 14th, #putabirdonit started to catch on.


Like they should, @PortlandiaTV quickly picked #putabirdonit up and began to promote the hashtag.


Then they went the extra mile – they used a hashtag that users were already catching on to, and increased the volume of the conversation by creating, a website allowing any user to put a bird on any website. Their Facebook landing page also encourages uses to put a bird on it.

The brilliance of the move was that it wasn’t forced. They didn’t try to create a hashtag or conversation out of thin air and push it, (think Kenneth Cole with #cairo for an example of the hazards of trying to force a conversation on users) they paid attention to what their fans were already excited about and engaged with, and gave them a reason to continue to be engaged and excited.

Suddenly, it became very popular to put a bird on it.


A section of the Portland art community also jumped on the putabirdonit bandwagon, ironically as an ironic sign of protest, which only helped to publicize the hashtag.


As more bird stamped webpages popped up, #putabirdonit not only became a substitution for #portlandia on the web, but tweeps began to use it as a more general meme.


#putabirdonit is a great example of how a brand can add to the conversation beyond merely retweeting and commenting. Hashtags and conversation can easily take a life of their own, but while you may not be able to control the conversation, opportunities abound for the brand that is paying attention and can quickly take action.


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