Hahstags are a powerful tool of communication on Twitter. They help create conversation, aid in making information viral through trends and, most importantly, build an identity for a brand. But all of this holds true only if hashtags are employed correctly. Otherwise, a hashtag can seriously backfire and even cause outrage towards a brand.
The following hashtag hijacks on Twitter represent a complete failure to connect the company's image to the topic. Let these examples serve as a lesson on how not to employ hashtags to promote your brand.
This clothing company thought it was a clever idea to co-opt the hashtag #OnlineAzadi, which was trending for 15 + hours after the Supreme Court quashed Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. Do you see any connection between natural clothing and "online Azadi"? I am guessing no one can. Hitching such a shameless ride on an important issue is clearly a fail that will only put off potential customers.
2. Wrangler Denims
Brands are often known to abuse the power of hashtags by using more than three in a tweet, but in this case Wrangler Denims clearly believed in the adage "more the merrier" and hashtagged five trending topics of that day. This was a bad - a very bad -- move. Seeing those many tags will annoy their followers and even those who are making use of any of those hashtags to voice their opinions. It only makes the company come across as unprofessional and desperate! Moral of the story: Never hijack more than one trending topic and when you do it, do it smartly.
This website is known for providing great deals. But even if we all love saving on our shopping, it is annoying to see a brand piggybacking on virtually every hashtag of the day to draw attention to a deal. It would have made sense if they only made use of the #BigAppShoppingDays tag but including the other two is just stupid.
4. Maxima Watches
Some brands are serial hashtag hijackers and Maxima watches is definitely one of them. Every tweet on their profile includes at least one trending (and unrelated) topic of that day. To hijack a hashtag as a part of your strategy is acceptable, but only if it is done properly and logically. This brand blindly hashtags the word of that day to their post, without checking if it makes sense or not! As you can see below they have made use of #TheFrootiLife and it clearly doesn't connect to watches at all.
5. AEGON Religare
AEGON Religare was trying to increase awareness of their contest with pre-launch tweets and they made use of the Cricket World Cup semis as the platform to bring light to their hashtag #NothingWillHappen. This sounds fair enough, but they totally lost the plot when used three additional cricket-related hashtags in the post. This just shows they are trying to cash in through all the possible trending words. They would have drawn the right kind of attention if only they had strategised a bit better.
To hijack a trending hashtag, your brand should use a topic which is aligned with your industry. If this is not possible, you should at least ensure it synchronises with your brand image. It is important to think on your feet and come up with content that is fun and engaging.
In a way, this trend of hijacking hashtags in a nonsensical manner reflects the failure of the social media agencies handling these brands. You might get some retweets and favourites but is it helping in building your brand? Not at all. Such behaviours can, in fact, eventually damage the reputation of a company and lead to a loss of followers.