Hashtags Turn Bashtags on Twitter | SocialExcerpts

Hashtags Turn Bashtags on Twitter | SocialExcerpts

Hashtags Turn Bashtags on Twitter Feb 04

What was deemed as a PR exercise by McDonalds, turned into a horrible nightmare. The hashtag #McDStories, which was started by the company, was aimed at promoting inspiring stories from suppliers. One of their tweets said,

“Meet some of the hard-working people dedicated to providing McDs with quality food every day #McDStories”

But McDonalds had no idea what was in store for them. What ensued was a flood of tweets recounting horror stories from dissatisfied customers. Here are some examples

“I haven’t been to McDonald’s in years, because I’d rather eat my own diarrhea,”

“One time I walked into McDonald’s and I could smell Type 2 diabetes floating in the air and I threw up,”

Twitter witnessed a repeat telecast of sorts of the bashtag saga with Blackberry at the receiving end. On New Year’s Eve, RIM rolled out a campaign “Let’s #BeBold in 2012”. The hashtag yet again became an occasion for brand bashing. Most of the tweets with the hashtag reflected on the poor marketing skills of RIM, rather than celebrate user experience.

The two incidents point us towards a pertinent question. Should big brands be using hashtags on Twitter for promotion? David Berkowitz, the vice president of emerging media at digital agency 360i, opines they should not. “Hashtags are ripe for brandjacking, but some brands are more ripe for getting their hashtags jacked than others”, he said. “It’s tough to do much with their marketing when their business is in transition, to put it mildly.” He also added that the hashtag was a part of the problem. Had it been worded more judiciously, it would have invited less scorn.

Brands have a lesson to learn from these incidents. It is indeed important to engage on social media and gauge customer sentiment. But one must not push the envelope. Providing quality services is as much essential as listening to them on Twitter or Facebook. And campaign strategies could focus on harnessing other social media platforms, instead of riding on open ended Twitter hashtags.

Next time you plan a social media strategy; do take lessons from McDonalds and RIM’s #fail-ure.

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