#tbt, which stands for "throwback Thursday," is one of the most popular hashtag institutions on social media. Each Thursday, users take to networks such as Instagram and Twitter for an exercise in nostalgia, posting baby pictures, old vacation photos and other memorable snapshots from the past. For brands, #tbt presents a unique opportunity to show a personal side to a highly engaged and receptive audience, and the hashtag can be especially useful if, like Vice President Joe Biden, you have a message to share.
Vice President Biden and top Democrats conceived a simple strategy to get people thinking about health insurance on Thursday, posting pictures of their younger selves on Twitter with the hashtag #tbt.
For the VP, the message is two-fold. First, it's self-congratulatory, reminding users that, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, young people can stay on their parents' health insurance plans until the age of 26. Also, if you were born in 1988 (the Democrats' tweets also uses the hashtag #Bornin88), it's time to start thinking about what you're going to do when you age off of your family's plan.
These messages are targeted at young people, who also happen to be the most engaged group on social media, making the idea to use #tbt a perfect storm of sorts. For professional communicators, thinking about how you can put hashtags such as #tbt to use in the way that they are intended will demonstrate that you're aware of social media nuance and that you can put it to use in hip, creative ways.
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