Hashtags on Twitter are a popular and effective marketing tool. It has emerged as an excellent means to promote your brand, or to generate feedback from your customers. Hashtags also greatly enhance your social media presence.
Nonetheless, if used in the wrong context or at an inappropriate time, it could exponentially damage a brand’s public image. Let’s study some of the worst hashtag fails in Twitter history.
Susan Boyle’s PR team did not anticipate the ways in which a tweet could be interpreted. Instead of being seen as an album release party it was scrutinized as a sex party.
The debacle could have been avoided by simply capitalizing the words in the tweet (#SusanAlbumParty). This resulted in a great hysteria in the form of replies and retweets from her Twitter followers.
The use of acronyms or alternate meanings in hashtags is a common practice on Twitter. Although, it should be carried out by considering all possible interpretations of the phrase. For those who are unaware with the phrase “RIM Job” may refer to urban dictionary for further elaboration.
Blackberry, a subsidiary of Research in Motion decided to promote the company’s 6000 job vacancies with an unfortunate choice for a hashtag. The slang meaning for the hashtag led the company a great deal of embarrassment.
3. #Trending (Habitat UK):
Habitat Retail Ltd made an embarrassing lapse in judgement while promoting their offers on Twitter. The social media team decided to promote their offers by using trending hashtags. But, they did so by including unrelated popular hashtags along with a standardized message with their offering.
Habitat included popular hashtags like #iphone, #Apple, #mousavi which were trending on Twitter. This was seen as an unprofessional and rookie mistake by one of the leading retail brands in the UK.
Many a times, a company’s social media team may become unaware of the actual happenings within the company or related events. This may lead to missed opportunities or even disasters.
Unfortunately, for Quantas Luxury airlines it resulted in a disaster. Quantas launched a social media campaign in the form of a competition. The winner would be decided by selecting the best responses about their Quantas Luxury experiences.
The campaign started on Twitter only 2 days after the airline grounded their fleet and locked out the staff over a whiff regarding payment with the Union. The staff saw this as an opportunity and took to Twitter regarding their issues with the campaign’s hashtag.
This resulted in the campaign being perceived as a desperate move to improve their public image.
Companies or brands should take caution during campaigns which require a public response for promotion if their brand has a questionable reputation. McDonalds learned it the hard way.
McDonalds sought to promote their brand expecting heart warming stories when they introduced their Twitter campaign with the hashtag #McDStories. Instead, the Twitterverse grasped this moment for comedy.
This resulted in numerous tweets with unflattering stories, which led to really bad publicity for the brand.
Burger King decided to promote their new low fat french fry in a social media campaign with the hashtag #WTFF on Twitter. The Intended meaning of the hashtag was What The French Fry.
Little to their knowledge the hashtag was already being used by Twitter users. The hashtag meant ‘What The F**king F**k’, and was used to tweet about things that annoyed people.
Due to this, the campaign lost its significance in the enormous pool of unrelated tweets.
Roadkill Nights is an event regularly sponsored by Dodge to promote their cars every year with the hashtag #RoadKillNights. Unfortunately, one of the following years a civilian killed a protester and injured 19 others while driving a Dodge automobile. It was the same day Dodge began their event promotion for #RoadKillNights.
Although, both events were completely unrelated except for the phrase ‘Road Kill’, Twitter users bashed Dodge for using this hashtag.
Dorothy Perkins used a slang hashtag #LoveDP to promote their brand. Though, it is unclear whether it was intentional or not. In this case one would consider DP as the initials of the brand. But, DP also stands for double penetration, a kind of sexual act.
The social media team at Dorothy Perkins were either too smart or too dumb to come up with the idea of #LoveDP. Nonetheless, the hashtag brought some hilarious tweets on Twitter.
This particular event happened on the same day, Casey Anthony was not found guilty of murder of her own daughter. Entenmann’s sent out a tweet with the hashtag #notguilty with the intended meaning, ‘not guilty about eating all the tasty treats’.
Entenmann’s sent out the tweet with no knowledge about the case or what people were talking about on Twitter. Thus, they accidently joined the wave of commentators discussing the verdict.
The act was seen as Entenmann’s trying to gain publicity on a trending hashtag, regardless of how sensitive the case was and its verdict.
The NYPD started a campaign in hopes of improving their relationship with the citizens. The NYPD asked Twitter followers to post pictures of themselves with cops with the #myNYPD.
Instead, Twitter users posted several pictures of police violence and misbehavior towards the citizens along with the hashtag. Over 70,000 tweets of police brutality flooded Twitter resulting in the shut down of the campaign.
Twitter hashtags are an effective way to increase social media engagement. But, the combination of words, acronyms, context and timing of the hashtag should be closely monitored to ensure the success of the hashtag campaign. Overlooking these factors could lead to a great deal of embarrassment and PR nightmares.