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#Hashtag happy

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Hashtags can make or break any campaign… but it is when people get #hashtag #happy #that #can #spell #out #disaster!

At Citydesk Sport we have a mantra when it comes to hastags – keep them simple.

Nobody remembers over complicated hashtags, especially when they’re tweeting live from an event.

Plus, it’s important to bear in mind that you don’t want your hashtag to be too long. After all, you only have 140 characters on Twitter to play with so if you’re writing about an event and want to put the year in, it would be better to write: #CDSevent13 rather than #CitydeskSportevent2013. (That’s a total saving of 12 characters!)

Aside from keeping hashtags short and ensuring they’re ‘simple’ you also have to think about the impact a hashtag can make and if it will help you to attract positive or negative comments from your audience.

Here’s some examples of how hashtags have gone disastrously wrong.

McDonald’s used the hashtag #McDStories to encourage their followers to share their experiences. But the hashtag got hijacked by some of their unhappy customers. People started using #McDStories to discuss the unhealthy nature of their products, the chain’s alleged poor practices and unsanitary conditions.

McDonald’s isn’t’ the only victim of a PR hashtag nightmare. Poor old Susan Boyle, who came second in Britain’s Got Talent back in  2009, became another viral sensation when her PR team created the hashtag #susanalbumparty to celebrate the launch of her new album. Unfortunately for Subo many users read it as #SusAnalBumParty!

Fortunately, not all hashtag campaigns end in fiasco and in fact there have been some really popular marketing campaigns that have helped brands to provoke positive discussion and action.

Clothes company Uniqlo set up a page called the ‘Lucky Counter’ on their website, which featured 10 items. If you clicked on one of the pieces, it triggered a pre-written tweet using the hashtag #luckycounter. The more people that tweeted about the featured 10 items, the cheaper they became. This hashtag encouraged more people to engage with the brand and increase it’s brand awareness.

Hashtags can be powerful tools but it is important to follow two rules, 1) keep them simple and 2) assess the PR risk beforehand.

Happy hashtagging!


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About the author Kate Allum

Kate Allum is head of Social Media at Citydesk Sport.