#HowNotToHashtag: 7 Social Marketing Sins

-By Daniel Nunan

The 2015 Rugby World Cup is a big deal. About as big as you’d expect the biggest prize for the globe’s second-favourite non-spherical football code to be. That’s why it was a little surprising to see the RWC make a costly tactical fumble on social media recently.


A few weeks back, @RugbyWorldCup put the responsibility for the Australia-England Man of the Match award on Twitter, nominating three players and asking rugger tweeters to use the hashtags #MOTM1, #MOTM2 and #MOTM3 to place their votes. Eyebrows were raised when England’s Gareth Davies came away with the win – given honours aren’t traditionally given to members of the losing team, especially when their loss is a pretty heavy one on their home turf.


This own goal (nope, wrong code) knock-on inspired the selection of seven elite no-nos for the inaugural Marketing Error Through Hashtags World Cup!


1. Don’t assume democracy always works

The RWC nominated two Australians and one Englishman for the #MOTM award, assuming that common sense would prevail and somebody from the winning team would be victorious. Enter proud English tweeters, freshly bundled out of a tournament they were hosting and keen to stick it to the Antipodeans, digitally. What did @RugbyWorldCup expect?


 2. Don’t (accidentally) feed the trolls

While we’re talking sports brands, let’s remember when the NFL’s New England Patriots had a neat idea for uniting fans on Twitter. They created a bot that finds users who use #1MillionPatriots, then takes their handle and generates an image of a personalised Patriots jersey that is shared proudly by @Patriots. The result? The Patriots seemingly promoting race hate for over an hour.


3. Don’t leave your hashtag open to crashtaggers

The internet is a big scary place full of meanies, so don’t be surprised if your hashtag doesn’t end up working against you. Australian coal lobbyists got a taste of this when their #coalisamazing was hijacked by people who begged to differ, as did McDonald’s USA when #McDStories was co-opted by people who weren’t lovin’ it.


4. Don’t think crashtagging can’t backfire

Why put on your own digital party when your brand can just rock up to one that’s already kicking? Nothing, usually… but be careful how you do it. Random House got kicked for using #LestWeForget to sell war-themed books on Remembrance Day, while clothing giants Gap and American Apparel were both bashed for trying to use #Sandy to spruik their threads – while the hurricane was killing hundreds of people in the Atlantic.

And remember, a bit of hashtag homework can go a long way to keeping your brand out of trouble: DiGiorno’s Pizza gleefully jumped aboard trending #WhyIStayed with a cheeky “You had pizza”, apparently unaware the hashtag was for tales of domestic violence survival. Not good.


5. Don’t think it’s all about you

While we’re talking sensitivity, here’s a cautionary tale about clothing outlet Celeb Boutique, who suggested that a trending hashtag might have something to do with their dress of the same name: #Aurora. A winking emoticon didn’t save the UK-based company from looking like they were making a joke about a massacre in Colorado movie theatre.

Toyota USA thought they were onto a safe thing when they created a bunch of accounts that spammed everyone who used #SuperBowl during America’s biggest annual sporting event. That’s not exactly social, guys.


6. Don’t hashtag yourself

If you’re inventing your own hashtag, try and do it with a bit of humility. Making your Twitter username into a hashtag that nobody is going to interact with makes you look desperate, and irrelevant. Not naming names. But we all could.


7. Don’t forget to proofread

Susan Boyle, Chieftain of British Pipe Band Championships

This is so elementary, but in the hilarious wake of Susan Boyle’s famous #susanalbumparty, the importance of having another set of eyes to look over your hashtag can’t be stressed enough.


Just ask the folks behind Blackberry’s Research In Motion project recruitment drive (#RIMJobs), or the unfortunate gang at Sephora Beauty, who wanted Twitter to help them #countdowntobeauty – but didn’t count on a crucial letter going missing.


Know some players that might have earned a guernsey at the Marketing Error Through Hashtags World Cup? Tweet us using #meth!

1 Comment

  • David Marshall on October 29, 2015 3:45 pm Reply

    Nice work Dan, you write really really really really…. good.

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