3 Reasons You Should Always Check Your Hashtags
Brand Hashtag Dos and Don’ts
It has become a common trend amongst big organisations to start their own hashtags. The aim of this tactic is quite clear – to increase brand recognition through customer participation. It can be quite a successful technique when used correctly, giving worldwide exposure to a company or a new product – especially if the hashtag starts to trend.
However, when starting a campaign like this, it is absolutely vital that you check what connotations this hashtag already has. There have been more than a few occasions when companies have failed to put time into their research and have ended up red-faced to say the least.
Here are some things that you should always look into before using a hashtag:
Is your hashtag already in use?
One important thing to look into is whether or not your hashtag has already been used online. Whilst the meaning of your hashtag may be obvious to you, it may have already lent itself to a number of other campaigns online. It is a good idea to see if this is the case, if it is, you should try and decide whether or not its previous use will be appropriate to what you are trying to achieve.
One of the clearest examples of what can go wrong if you don’t research your hashtag was DiGiorno Pizza’s controversial use of the “WhyIStayed” hashtag.
This hashtag has been used for a long time to connect those who have suffered as victims of domestic abuse. It is used as a way for these people to share their stories and offer each other emotional support and guidance.
However DiGiorno were clearly not aware of this and sent out the following tweet:
— Scott Paul (@scottatslee) September 9, 2014
Unsurprisingly this tweet was not received well on the social media platform and the pizza company was left with a lot of apologising to do. To their credit, DiGiorno went out of their way to write personalised apologies to all those who tweeted their annoyance at them. However, this all could have been avoided if they had carried out just five minutes worth of research.
Will people “hijack” your hashtag?
When you’ve come up with a hashtag that sounds perfect to you and your social media team, it’s easy to forget how it might be viewed by others on twitter – especially by those who are not fans of your brand. If you don’t take this into consideration, you may find that people start using your own hashtag to share negative thoughts about your brand; as opposed to the positive ones that you had in mind.
This is possibly one of the most common failures of brand created hashtags and as a result there are a view high profile examples.
One of the most glaring examples of a hashtag hijack was when McDonald’s attempted to engage with its customers by starting the hastag “McDStories”. Instead of customers tweeting about their love of the fast food chain, McDonald’s hashtag was turned on its creator and become a medium through which unsatisfied diners expressed their displeasure.
This hashtag fiasco happened three years ago and still has not been forgotten by internet users, therefore it is vital that you are aware of your brand’s existing image before you send a hashtag into the Twittersphere.
How does your hashtag read as one word?
Many brands have made the huge mistake of not checking how their hashtag reads once it is put into hashtag format. It is (apparently) easy to forget that hashtags are listed as one word with no spaces. This means that it is easy for your hashtag’s meaning to be lost on those who are not already primed to read it in the way that you intended. This can decrease the affect that your hashtag has on your brand awareness, as people will read the hashtag and never even associate it with your company. However sometimes things can go even more wrong than that.
The most (in)famous case of a hashtag reading in a way that it was not intended to, was probably in the case of Susan Boyle’s album launch party. Her record label wanted to drum up interest and awareness for her LP and as a result decided to use a hashtag. It all seems rather understandable, especially as hashtags for musicians don’t seem to attract negative backlash in the way that those made by big companies do. The one problem was that Susan’s social media team clearly did not think about how others would read this hashtag. Susan Boyle’s team decided to attract attention to the launch party by starting the hashtag “Susan’s Album Party”. The thing that they failed to realise was that when this title is put into hashtag form it reads #susanalbumparty. Can you see it yet? Nope? Wait, wait, oh yeah there it is.
Poor Susan Boyle, who famously revealed that she had never been kissed, had seemingly been signed up to no less than an “Anal Bum Party”. Twitter users were quickly falling over themselves to point out that the hashtag could easily be read as “Su’s Anal Bum Party”. As is to be expected, the internet exploded and there was no undoing the damage that this careless hashtag had done.
Do you have any experience with hashtags going wrong? Check out JSEO’s social media section for more advice on how to boost your brand online!