Upss… My hastag fails
From #susanalbumparty, to #WaitroseReasons there are dozens of ways brands can fall victim to a serious hashtag fails. Here are ten of the worst. There’s a lot that can go wrong in 140 characters. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot that can go wrong in the space of one simple hashtag. From poorly thought out word amalgamations and horribly insensitive content, to hashtags which are literally asking for trouble. We’ve collected ten of the worst ever Twitter hashtag fails to help you steer clear of #awks and bad publicity….

10. #RIMJobs

#Rim - bad twitter hashtag

The #Fail

It’s now common practice for brands to broadcast their vacancies via Twitter. The reason behind it is that it helps them attract more engaged applicants and widen their hiring pool. Unfortunately when Research in Motion (RIM) began the search for fresh candidates, they had not done, well…their research.

The #Fix

Your hashtag may seem innocuous, but humans are a filthy minded bunch. Twitter is a global network. It has millions active monthly users from all manner of backgrounds, cultures and countries. They may have any number of associations attached to what you believe to be a neutral term. Before you decide on a hashtag, take a moment to research the term you’re tagging. Websites like (the regularly rude) Urban Dictionary will flag up whether or not you’re sailing in potentially offensive waters.

9. #Cairo

#Cairo - not so funny hashtag

 

The #Fail

Twitter is all about joining in the conversation and interacting with the latest chatter. However, not when that means appropriating the Arab Spring to try to sell shoes from your new Spring collection. In a woeful attempt at social media marketing Kenneth Cole used the trending hashtag #Cairo in the midst of the Egyptian Revolution alongside a promotional message about the brand’s new stock. The insensitivity and ignorance horrified thousands of twitter users.

The #Fix

If you want your brand to engage with topical news and conversations, ensure it’s not promotional and is brand appropriate. Never commandeer a trending hashtag to try to flog your wares. It’s just plain tasteless and you can expect a severe hashtag backlash.

8. #notguilty

#notguilty - bad use of a trending hashtag

The #Fail

This fail happened on the same day that mother Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter. US baked goods makers Entenmann’s accidentally joined the wave of commentators discussing the verdict on Twitter with an incredibly inappropriately timed #notguilty tweet.

The #Fix

It’s possible that, like #Cairo, this was a cynical attempt to gain attention by jumping onto a trending tag. But some would say that it also was an honest, innocent mistake. To avoid the latter, scan the week’s trending topics and running tweets before going live.

7. #susanalbumparty

susan boyle hashtag fail

The #Fail

If you’re not quite sure why this hashtag is a #fail, we advise you to read it again, carefully. Used to promote singer Susan Boyle’s album launch, it caused quite a stir back in 2012. Many speculated that this unfortunate amalgamation of words was a clever ploy to garner publicity. If it wasn’t, it was one of the funniest Twitter fails.

The #Fix

Presuming #susanalbumparty was an innocent mistake, this is all the reason you need to make sure as many people have sign off on your social media as your resources and processes allow. Two, three and four pairs of eyes are much better than one when it comes to social media.

6. #CLitFest

#Clitfest - the funniest hashtag

The #Fail

Poor Chester Literary Festival… It’s common for events to have shortened, hashtaggable names to help encourage interaction, particularly over the course of a festival. Unfortunately, Chester’s big literary event chose the wrong one and flat out asked for ridicule.

The #Fix

Again, the more people you have to sign off on social media, the easier you can avoid similar silly decisions. Brands considering using acronyms or blending numerous words in a hashtag should be especially cautious.

5. #WaitroseReasons

#Waitrosereasons - turning from fail to success

The #Fail

Asking the Great British public not to take the biscuit when presented with a #hashtag which taps directly into national stereotypes and class divides is, frankly, short-sighted. When upmarket supermarket Waitrose asked Twitter to share the #WaitroseReasons why they use the store, they should have expected the heckling and gags which ensued.

The #Fix

Don’t ask for trouble. Social media users are more than savvy enough to identify when a brand is transparently asking for good publicity. This can really rankle, making any negativity caused by a box of worms opening hashtag so much worse.

4. #TRENDING

Habitat - embarassing error

The #Fail

HabitatUK made a seriously embarrassing error when its social media team decided to attract more followers. They did so by blatantly tweeting trending hashtags including unrelated terms like #KOBE, #MOUSAVI and #TRUEBLOOD. All that along with a standardized message! This is a completely rookie approach to Twitter which made the brand look spammy, desperate and unprofessional.

The #Fix

Never ever latch onto a trending tag to try to gain followers. In fact, don’t do anything to transparently try to gain followers. Focussing on producing good content and interacting well is the only way to grow a brand’s social presence the right way. Shortcuts are sloppy, obvious and ineffective.

3. #MadeMeSmile

The #Fail

Vodafone’s #MadeMeSmile Christmas time campaign in 2010 wasn’t the most ill-conceived in Twitter history. It gave lucky tweeters who shared their “smile inducing” moments a handset for Christmas. Unluckily the hashtag was hijacked by people protesting the company’s accounting practices,. The protest group UK Uncut lead the charge as users accused the brand of wriggling out of an unpaid £6bn tax bill.

The #Fix

This is a tricky one. Vodafone’s social media team didn’t really do anything wrong here. Even a greater awareness of the delicate situation is ideal. RE: Could accounting next time make it possible to predict this response? The fix? Having a very good crisis PR team on hand to take care of the fallout.

2. #QantasLuxury

#QantasLuxury another hashtag fail

The #Fail

Not widely known for its great customer service or luxuriousness, Aussie airline Qantas’ social media team made a big mistake. They asked their customers to enter a competition by sharing their #QantasLuxury experiences. All that just one day after the airline grounded their fleet and locked out staff for 48 hours over a union pay dispute. Disgruntled staff and customers took to Twitter in full irony mode, and who can blame them?

The #Fix

It’s easy enough for social media teams to become distant from the actual happenings within a company. But to avoid this type of débâcle, they must stay on the ball and try to prevent complete embarrassment.

1. #McDStories

#MCDonaldStories - funny hashtag fial

The #Fail

Easily one of the funniest hashtag fails in the history of Twitter. Mostly because as a vast multinational brand with a questionable outlook, it’s easy to laugh when McDonald’s gets it wrong. In January 2012, the fast food leviathan tried to make itself a little more likeable by sharing and encouraging #McDStories. Unfortunately, the Twittersphere was not playing ball. Seeing an opportunity for comedy, the web launched thousands of less-than-flattering #McDStories at the brand, generating some incredibly bad publicity.

The #Fix

Encouraging interaction is important on Twitter, but sometimes silence is golden.Make sure you’re not opening the door to a world of negativity. Especially if you are going to allow the Twitterati to have their say about your brand with a hashtag. Unless your brand is squeaky clean, never ask for this sort of input.

Need to know more? Check our post on How to Create a hashtag and avoid Common Mistakes Brands Make

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2 Comments

  • As a business (if used correctly), hashtags can be very powerful, as long as you follow the rules and don’t fall into the trap.

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