When #tags go wrong!

The hashtag has become a popular marketing tool of late with everyone from big consumer brands down to small B2B businesses getting involved. Providing a quick way to find and get involved in conversations, the hashtag has been the key to success for some of this year’s best marketing campaigns, but, what happens when a seemingly great hashtag idea gets noticed and starts to trend for the wrong reasons? Known as hashjacking, the hijacking of brands campaigns is becoming more and more frequent leading to some embarrassing #marketingblunders!

To avoid such blunders, here are a few tips to think about when planning a hashtag campaign…

1. Avoid the self promoting #

McDonalds famously started the #McDStories presumably thinking this would flood Twitter with praise and glowing reports for the fast food chain, which arguably does have a much better reputation now than in previous years, however it seems this provided too good an opportunity for people to focus on the negatives!

2. Don’t try to push ‘PR messages’

The #QantasLuxury may have been intended to highlight that yes, the airline isn’t your budget option, but unless you travel first class, you wouldn’t describe any flight as ‘luxurious’.

3. Check how it reads before you post!

Simple but too often forgotten – you come up with a great strapline but you fail to spot what else it could be read as when written together as a hashtag! Famously overlooked were #SusanAlbumParty and #NowThatchersDead which spread rumours Cher was dead and Susan Boyle was having a very different party!

4. Second guess your audience

Waitrose underestimated the response of its followers on Twitter with the #WaitroseReasons – inviting people to give their reasons for shopping at the supermarket, endless comedy answers about butlers on holiday and pony’s not liking Asda followed.

5. Check before you use one

Has your hashtag been used before and in what context? A bakery in America recently had to apologise for using #notguilty in relation to eating cakes, however the same hashtag was also being used to report on a high profile murder trial taking place!

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