If you were to search #SharkWeek on Twitter right now, it would yield plenty of brand tweets reminding customers that the product or service in question is a perfect tie-in to the annual celebration of our toothy, aquatic heroes. In fact, with shark-themed doughnuts, cars, cosmetics, and whiskey, one might even be able to live this whole week without touching a single non-shark-related thing, however tenuous the actual connection might be.
But brands aren’t the only Twitter-users utilizing the #SharkWeek hashtag to further their own purposes; while it’s undeniably fun to buy into the hype, there are many organizations and individuals that would like to remind us that the heart of Shark Week is (or should be) science, education, and conservation, and they are taking to Twitter to hammer this message home.
— UNC IMS (@UNCims) August 13, 2014
— Oceana Europe (@Oceana_Europe) August 13, 2014
— Project AWARE (@projectaware) August 13, 2014
While some are simply taking it upon themselves to spread awareness and education (like the examples above), others are taking direct issue with the programming on Discovery, lamenting the replacement of good old-fashioned documentaries with the increasingly-popular “docudrama.”
But all the feedback isn’t negative; there’s been plenty of positive reinforcement, too. For instance, many of the same critics who complained about the trashy programming also took to Twitter to applaud the documentary “Alien Shark” for being chock full of factual information, new research, and an important message:
— Shark Savers (@Sharksavers) August 13, 2014
— Michelle Wcisel (@MichelleWcisel) August 13, 2014
— David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) August 13, 2014
With 29 million people tuning in to Shark Week at some point during the programming, Discovery is unlikely to please every single one of them, but it’s clear that to get a finger on the pulse of trending opinions (and targeted brand promotions), one need look no further than Twitter. Ah, the power of hashtag hijacking, how it never ceases to amaze us.