Hashtag Hijack

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I led my last blog article with a list of my school board’s three main hashtags: #pvnclearns, #pvncleads and #pvncserves. This comes from our recently revised Mission Statement: Achieve Excellence in Catholic Education: Learn – Lead – Serve. I put together a Storify slideshow to highlight just a few examples of #pvnclearns tweets from the last school year. Once you click on the Storify use your left and right arrow keys to navigate and hover your mouse over the content to see the associated tweet.

The hashtags were the brainchild of our board’s Manager of Communications, Galen Eagle (or as he is known on Twitter: @legalgeagle). He has worked very diligently with our 36 schools to develop their own Twitter brands and using these three hashtags to make the learning in our schools visible. If you have eight minutes, his PVNC year in review video is a great example of this.

In one of my recent MBA assignments, I was asked to work with a group to complete a Social Media Audit. We thought it would be fun to dive into a brand that is really struggling right now, United Airlines. One of the findings of our audit was that their hashtags were being hijacked by disgruntled customers. The “#UnitedJourney” hashtag was supposed to highlight good news stories about flying United. Instead, of the 1046 social media posts using the #UnitedJourney hashtag 67% were of neutral or negative sentiment and only 12% of the posts were positive sentiment. Worse yet, posts of negative sentiment were retweeted twice as often as posts with positive sentiment.

Another example is the McDonald’s Restaurant hashtag #ImLovinIt. In analysing the last 30 days of tweets using this hashtag, there were 68 unique positive tweets and only 2 unique negative tweets. However, when retweets were analysed they were overwhelmingly negative:

The #imlovinit campaign has unintentionally spawned an evil doppelgänger under the hashtag #imNOTlovinit. This made me fear for our coterminous school board, Kawartha Pine Ridge, as they have been running a Twitter campaign under the hashtag #KPRisawesome. While the problem is limited to one user, there is a #KPRisNOTawesome hashtag:

With such amazing things happening on both the #pvnclearns and #kprisawesome hashtags, how does one protect themselves against hashtag hijack? Does it just come with the territory and you handle it like any other “customer” complaint? Please share your comments below.

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