A Story of Hashtag Hijacking Blunder, And What You Can Do To Avoid The Shame.

Blog, Digital Marketing / Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Stories of some badly planned or say unplanned hashtag campaigns that caused severe reputation damage to leading brands over social media, and what you can do to avoid.

FREE Social media might have started making lesser sense for advertisers, but it has grown up in a full fledged open public complaint channel for consumers, vertically & horizontally.

As an advertiser you may no more reach consumers organically that effectively, but consumers can very effectively fuck your brand online if you mess up with them, and there is very less that you can do about it if you want to use power of money, media or hacks. Actually no hack is of any help.

The story I was talking about is of McDonald’s #McDStories hashtag campaign. Actually I have 3 stories for you, but let’s see this one first.

#McDStories Campaign Backfired.

#McDStories Campaign case study

Might have been started with purpose of generating user generated content, and some positive user generated popularity as well but it fall back very badly, with people started using the hashtag #McDStories to post all the negative experiences and notably, opinions as wells.

#ILoveWallgreens Campaign Backfired

#IloveWallgreens campaign case study

Due to poor planning & non-anticipation of possible grievance registrations publically. In fact, IMHO, #ILoveXYZ kinda campaigns rarely work.

Every brand dream of having social media advocates who highlights the great positive experience with a brand, but we must remember that this number of brand loving advocates will always remain very few comparing the other 2 categories of customers ie. 1) Customers with negative experiences, and 2) Customers who have nothing to say. All I can say is Wallgreens’ team acted quite lazy on this campaign.

#SusanAlbumParty Campaign Backfired

#SusanAlbumParty campaign case study

This campaign failed merely due to high level of stupidity of their PR team (ie. #SusanAlbumParty was also seen as #SusAnalBumParty), or may be due to unanticipated & unfortunate turn around, but surely their PR people should have paid attention while choosing the right hashtag. This stupidity not only failed the purpose of brand, but also appeared foolish, and careless.


All of the above campaigns, and especially the first two clearly indicates that social media channels should be used very carefully, specially when you are quite enthusiastic about using it for branding & promotional purpose, since people know that your hashtag campaign is a marketing campaign, and you want to use it for your own benefits, and your senior team would be actively involved too, and thus such campaign(s) becomes the most effective ways to hurt you back, take revenge for a negative experience or a wrong deed that your people did, or at least to register my complain in such a way that you are bound to resolve.

If you can read between the lines, understand, that both ‘Brands’ and ‘Customers’ are using their social media based relationship for totally different reasons.

So what can we do to avoid such disasters, and really build a positive brand impression on social media?

Let’s use social media their way.

1. Run disappointment collection campaigns

If consumer grievance is a reality, why not to tackle it differently by making it a part of our mainstream customers support activity.

You may want to run a grievance collection campaign to give an impression that you’re open for criticism, and correct yourself.

Like after the case of #McDStories, they could have executed  “#McDIsListening …” campaign that could have channelize the negative sentiment posting people. Beside this it might have soften the public rage against McDonald as well if there was any.

In fact you can rebrand your social media channel as an open feedback channel so that customers feel like reaching directly to you, and getting heard.

Remember in cases of negative customer experiences, if you can’t accept their condition 100%, at least end the conversation on a soft node.

2. Use social media primarily for customer support

The reduced organic reach over social media platforms have already organically useless channel for marketing, so why don’t you use social media as your customer support channel, and turn it into a marketing weapon.

When your new potential customers will see you resolving concerns of yoru existing customers online, openly, boldly and publically, they will find you trustworthy brand. A brand that won’y leave them in case something goes wrong.

3. Set a right expectations

Beside using your social media page as a customer grievance redressal channel, you can also use the customer case studies, right there, to set right expectations with your new potential customers.

See you can’t hold back your marketing boys to over promise, since they need to meet monthly sales targets, so what can you do is to educate your customers in advance, and establish a clear set of expectations.

Setting a right expectation is far more easy than getting a negative review removed from Google search. So invest your time, focus, and money in the right direction.

If you’re looking for help with how to run a successful hashtag campaign over social media marketing, we’d love to help. Please connect with us via contact page.


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