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When Hashtags #Attack: Hashtag Campaign Dangers

When Hashtags #Attack: Hashtag Campaign Dangers

Hashtag campaigns are among the trickiest to manage in social media. In the last few years, many brands have found themselves in the undesirable position of dealing with fast-growing, explosive PR nightmares after a hashtag campaign turned against them as a result of bad luck, bad planning, bad timing or all three.

If you are a tourism or entertainment destination considering a hashtag campaign, we’re not trying to talk you out of it. Executed correctly, they can be a lot of fun for both you and your guests or visitors, as well as extremely effective. But it’s definitely important to plan carefully and use an abundance of caution. Here are a few things you’ll want to think through:

Worst case scenario.

Once you’ve narrowed down the list to your most creative ideas, step back and ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that could happen as a result of this hashtag?” If you can’t think of anything, or the worst-case scenario isn’t really that big a deal, you may have come up with a winner.

Think like a troll.

It’s also a good idea to ask yourself “If I wanted to highjack this campaign, how would I go about doing it?” If you can instantly come up with five good ideas, you may need to rethink your concept.

Study other campaigns.

Take a look at campaigns that worked and campaigns that backfired and note any common ideas worth replicating or avoiding like the plague.

Rally your posse.

Once you’re ready to roll, set yourself up for success by enlisting some upfront participation of trusted friends and members of your social communities.


Let’s say you want to start a hashtag campaign, #NeverStop, to call attention to the non-stop fun at your amusement park. If that’s a hashtag that’s been appropriated by stakeholders within the cancer research community to show solidarity for their never-ending quest to cure cancer, you’ll need to come up with another idea or run the risk of looking insensitive.

Make sure you research thoroughly – and check again in the moments before you put out your first hashtagged post. Some hashtags trends can spring up in a matter of minutes.

Pay attention.

And don’t go so crazy with scheduled posts that you fall into “set it and forget it” mode. #FlyingHigh may have been a great hashtag for your trampoline park when you first thought of it a month ago.

But if you happen to roll out the campaign on the same day as a major airline disaster, you’re going to need the presence of mind to pull the campaign or make some other appropriate adjustment before you sustain any major damage.

We speak social. Contact MindEcology to find out what we can do to bring your A game to social media campaigns.