Hacking the Hashtag in 24 hours: How We Changed the #LadyProblems Conversation

If you’re a good marketing person, you have to be a little crazy. — Jim Metcalf

If you’ve been a part of a marketing team, event staff, or campaign crew, then you know how important the “hashtag discussion” is. Choosing a hashtag that captures an entire movement is no easy feat. It’s got to be a natural addition to your content that’s equal parts short, savvy and sophisticated. It also has to convey a powerful message and be trusted like the 18-year old kid you just dropped off at college; something you can only supervise for so long before outside influences set in.

How do you create a hashtag that encompasses all of the above? The one thing most marketing teams will advise you to do is pick something that’s “easy”. Something that’s not controversial and more likely than not, plays off a whimsical pun. Why? Because it’s safe, and nothing looks as good as safe feels…right?

Well, I’m here to tell you that doing something crazy, something the exact opposite of safe, pays off.

It’s no surprise that we’ve seen some critical feedback surrounding the name of our most recent hackathon series, Lady Problems. After all, we were well aware of the er- less than positive history behind the term. Which may leave you wondering, why would we choose a term with such a dodgy past?

Besides a handful of other reasons — we enjoy a good challenge.

We wanted to take a term that was seen as negative, ignored, put down, belittled and seen as a “women’s issue” and flip it into something positive — hence, the #LadyProblems initiative was born. Our goal was to take back the hashtag over the course of our 3-month global hackathon series, and we were planning to do this by focusing on a few key areas:

  • Geography: Expand the conversation across the globe
  • Demographics: Cross the gender divide, after all, these are issues that affect all of us
  • Conversation: Broaden the topic to embrace all issues women face

That 3-month goal? We achieved it in just 24 hours.

(Below is hashtag data for #LadyProblems before our marketing launch vs. 24 hours after)

And that was only the start. Curious what our data looks like now? Check out our weekly updated Impact Page.


What was the key to #LadyProblems quick success? Besides knowing our specific goals and having a clear KPI-tracking plan, our model was simple:

1) Community Engagement

How do you get people talking about your movement? You talk to them about it first. Our marketing strategy focuses on communication as a two-way street. Don’t get us wrong, we’re as addicted to social media as the next company, but we firmly believe there’s only so many times a community can see the same broad message before they start swiping left.

We’ve reversed this trend by cementing ourselves in Meetup groups, Facebook pages, blogs and wherever a trending topic is happening. Luckily, we’ve got a team of pretty passionate people, which makes having real conversations about diversity in tech a bit easier. Our best advice? Make it natural and make it meaningful (no Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V allowed)

2) Crowdsourcing

Once our community knew the message our next step was making it easy to spread the word. We know that Thunderclap can be a bag of mixed emotions, but take it from us, it works when properly applied. With Thunderclap, your message is free if you reach a desired amount of shares. And the best part? You’ll get 2–3X the number of impressions that you would have gotten with a standard, paid advertising campaign.

It’s also important not put all your marketing eggs into one strategy basket. Thunderclap is great, but it won’t do the job alone. We’ve got a secret sauce of crowdsourcing techniques that range from digital flash mobs to incentivized ambassador programs. It’s all about figuring out an SOP that works for your team and not being afraid to test a new idea every now and again.

3) A Funnel of Love

This would have taken the number one spot, but for emphasis, let’s leave the best for last. IMO, all successful marketing campaigns have one thing in common: A person, or group of people, willing to put something on the line to make their project a success. Whether this is in the form or blood, sweat, tears, or losing social media followers because all they do is RT every mention of said campaign via their personal channels.

Yes, it’s cheesy, but love breeds love folks. If your marketing team is passionate about an idea, then other departments will be passionate about that idea, which will spread to your clients and customers. Have we seen some less-than-positive tweets try to jump on our hashtag bandwagon? Of course. But get enough people committed to a purpose, and you’ll have yourself a pretty powerful movement.

Need help marketing your upcoming tech event or social impact project? Connect with us today.

Want to stay up to date with the #LadyProblems movement? Check out Our Impact page each week for updated analytics and series development.

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