Building brand narratives with hashtags on Twitter : A cognitive-pragmatic analysis on the emergence of a new advertising subgenre
This paper investigates the use of hashtags in the building of brand narratives (i.e. the open-ended, unfolding and participative depiction of a company’s core ideology and beliefs). A collection of over 700 hashtags involved in the creation of the advertising narratives of the four leading soft drinks brands in 2017 (i.e. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, RedBull, Nescafé) has been analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively to unveil their functions and formal characteristics, as well as the cognitive processes that underlie their interpretation and operate on the framing and dissemination of brand narratives. Ultimately, by categorizing and explaining the roles of hashtags in the construction of a brand narrative, as well as the potential correlations between their formal and functional traits and their retweeting rate and digital lifespan, this paper shapes a preliminary description of the characteristics of the subgenre of hashtag-based brand narratives and spells out some of the factors that should be considered in the choice of hashtags for advertising purposes.