With the football season about to start, the NFL in partnership with Twitter announced yesterday a set of official hashtags for all the teams.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 7, 2016
Wait, official hashtags?
Yeah, that’s right. See this is one of those things where using the official hashtag creates an emoji when the Tweet is viewed on Twitter.com or in the official app.
The problem is that these aren’t at all the hashtags that are commonly used by fans of the teams. Instead they were subject to what word marks the teams did or didn’t control and therefore which ones could be used. So here in Chicago we’ve been told we have to use #FeedDaBears, which literally no one is going to use and which is already being widely mocked by fans. Some of the others aren’t much better, ranging from bland (#Patriots) to generic (#HereWeGo for the Steelers) to WTH (#KeepPounding for the Panthers).
I understand the legal concerns around some terms. The Bears couldn’t use #BearDown because that’s copyrighted by a college football team. But it also speaks to the absurdity of trying to corporately control audience and user behavior. It’s like trying to get a firm grip on one of those silly snakes your aunt gave you for Christmas when you were five; It’s just not going to happen and you kind of embarrass yourself by trying.
All of that assumes we *need* official hashtags, which of course we don’t. But this is likely part of the NFL’s overall deal with Twitter where the social network does what it can to promote the league and experiments with using Thursday Night Football to test out its live broadcasting of sporting events. So money in some form changes hands here, which is why most companies do something regardless of how fans might react.