Black Lives Matter Plaza, Washington D.C. (Bill Holmes/Flickr)

Hashtag PR: Crowdsourced Marketing Boosts Black Lives Matter Message

Published on September 14, 2020

Marketing and public relations professionals can learn from the powerful social media hashtags of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Social media has put the brutal deaths of African-Americans in sharp focus. Since 2013 the Black Lives Matter movement has been persistent in using social media to respond to police discrimination and police brutality. However, with the litany of deaths in police custody–George Floyd in Minnesota, Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky–a chorus of hashtags has united followers in their call-and-response cries for social justice.

Hashtags open social media conversations to a wider audience and distill messages to their essence. Here are our top 10 choices for the most powerful crowdsourced marketing hashtags spreading the #BlackLivesMatter message.

10. #WeStandTogether

The United States isn’t the only country aware of the Black Lives Matter movement. A Korean pop group called BTS produced a meaningful tweet, which stated “we stand against racial discrimination” in Korean and English. The single powerful tweet spread across multiple platforms and then became a hashtag to counter the “white lives matter” rejoinder. took over the #WhiteLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter hashtags to support the movement. 

9. #AmINext

Little black boys will not be little forever. This trendy hashtag featured black parents sporting and showing off their handsome baby boys with the hashtag “AmINext.” The hashtag gave voice to their fear that something tragic will happen to their sons when they grow into men.  

8. #StrongerTogether

Professional athletes are among the biggest role models, and their marketing-savvy support for the Black Lives Matter movement showed why. The athletes took advantage of their platform and status to band together as Black men and encourage other African-Americans to uplift each other during these hard times, hence the phrase “stronger together.” 

7. #HandsUpDontShoot

A submissive gesture does not pose a threat, right? Since 2014 after the death of Micheal Brown this hashtag was used across the nation. Unfortunately, it’s still relevant today.  Social media users would post the hashtag with a picture of themselves with their hands up. During protests over George Floyd’s death, “hands up” become a trending topic once again.

6. #NoJusticeNoPeace

COVID-19 put a damper on everything these past 4 months. As protests took place during a global pandemic, those who wanted to stay home safely repeated the street slogan  “no justice no peace” on social platforms, while protestors quickly shared videos of the protests on their social media with the hashtag. 

5. #SayTheirNames

Billboards, buses, social media posts, and companies recited a litany of t those whose lives fell short due to unjust circumstances, including Michael Brown, Philando Castile, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor—a practice adopted in the marketing and public relations statements that followed Floyd’s death.

4. #ICantBreathe

“I can’t breathe” were the striking last words of a long list of African-Americans who have been taken away from us at the hands of police brutality. The hashtag also began in 2014 with the passing of Eric Garner. In its 2020 incarnation, social media users would post a picture with their hands or tape that reads “I can’t breathe” over their faces with the hashtag, shared by professional players like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant sporting T-shirts and marketing the slogan to a national audience.  

3. #TheShowMustBePaused

If you’ve been on social media this past month, then you know about BlackOut Tuesday. Some were furious with people in the entertainment industry who  swept problems under a rug and continued to market sales, songs and shows. Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang decided to take their concern to social media by posting a black blank image to drown out marketing and public relations messages. On June 2 the community as a whole achieved their disruptive goal with what became #BlackoutTuesday.

2. #KneelWithU

Kneeling? Sounds familiar. In 2016 pro quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt to protest racial injustice. However, the cause was passed to social media with greater impact. In 2020 peaceful protesters adopted the hashtag, then those at home and even officers participated. Officers then knelt and held hands with protesters. A simple moment couldn’t be more powerful.  

1. #BLM

Last but not least, we honor the shortened Black Lives Matter hashtag. A movement that has been going on since 2013 has only grown in power and solidarity. When you say “black lives matter”, everyone will know what you’re talking about. “BLM” has become more than just a phrase; it’s a livelihood. With marketing on global networks, news outlets, sporting events, restaurants and even video games like NBA 2K20 and Call of Duty. The BLM movement is doing the right things to get their voices heard and make a difference. 

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