The Three Worst PR Uses Of A Hashtag In 2012
Hashtags are an invaluable tool for giving targeted communications to huge numbers of people. They can create a great forum for discussion and debate, help raise awareness of a cause, or simply help sell more soft drinks.
However they are a two edged sword. For a hashtag to work is has to be used by large numbers of people, and people, historically, don’t always behave the way you want them to. Let me illustrate this point with three PR fables from the last year:
When Addidas opened up a hashtag to give people the chance to ask questions of Liverpool footballer Steve Gerrard they probably expected a lot of questions along the lines of “Why are you so great?”
Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way.
Top questions included: “Ryan Giggs’ wife divorced him and took half of everything he owned. How does it feel knowing she has 6 more Premier League medals than you? @EvertonArentWe” and “Who would win in a foot race, Jamie Carragher or the erosion of the UK coastline? @StockportRed” as well as “If Buzz Lightyear doesn’t think he’s a toy, why does he stop moving when humans are around? @MUFC_83”.
Other favourites included “At least at Liverpool you can now concentrate on the Champions Lea.. the Premier Leag… your familly @RyanCullen90”
Some brought attention to Gerrard’s bigger mistakes however, such as “How did you get away with assaulting someone in a nightclub purely because they didn’t play your favourite song? @CRSadler”
#WelovetheNHS was actually an extremely positive thing. In the fact of brutal cuts to the NHS, while tabloids were laying into it on all sides, people stood up to say that the NHS was a great thing that had saved many of their lives. Of course, there was one person who really wasn’t welcome to this party. The man many people believed was responsible for the turmoil the NHS was facing. That person was David Cameron.
@David_Cameron Two great signs of govt successes today – crime down again and proof NHS spending is rising #welovethenhs
Replies varied from:
@yorkierosie .@David_Cameron Thankyou. Most grateful. Whole nation collapsed in gales of ironic laughter. More humour please? More like that last tweet?
@fudgecrumpet .@David_Cameron using the hashtag #welovetheNHS is akin to a stalker stabbing their victim to death because they adore them so much.
@whatkatie_did .@David_Cameron I hate you.
It wasn’t a popular tweet, is my point.
This one almost makes you feel sorry. In an effort to promote the first album of Susan Boyle, some bright PR spark decided to start a hashtag promoting the launch party. The poor soul decided the obvious name for the hashtag would be Susan Album Party. They tweeted accordingly, putting a hashtag at the beginning and taking out all the spaces and capital letters. What they ended up with… wasn’t what they intended.
The tweet was quickly corrected to #SusanBoylesAlbumParty, but it was too late. The damage has been done and Susan Boyle was trending for all of the wrong reasons, while that poor intern was probably looking for new public affairs jobs. Just goes to show you should think before you click send.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Sam Wright is a freelance writer who never uses hashtags. #lies