The Hashtags: allies of the brand and enemies of bad reputation on Twitter

#Once Upon a time…

A Community Manager of a successful organization, one that enjoyed an important career in the international market, but that had limited presence in the dynamic and quasi-magical realm of social networks. At the time of being appointed, the reckless CM was alone, without an army or sword, standing in front of the abyss, armed with Twitter passwords and the shield of a solid corporate image. Your challenge? Achieve positioning in the networks, liven up the contents that are broadcast through them and stimulate the level of participation of their audience.

To achieve such a feat in the shortest time possible, he astutely plans to design an aggressive campaign on Twitter using an original, sticky and persuasive #Hashtag that ignites the spark of interaction through his modest community and beyond, along and width of the network.

#Not so fast.

As the brave CM of the previous case supposed, the popular “numeral” signs, known as hashtags, can be effective marketing and communication tools at the service of any organization with a digital attitude and 2.0 intelligence. These allow you to direct your messages to the epicenter of the action (what people comment, see and hear) and take them to the public of certain interest. However, the Social Media Strategist and more frequently the Community Manager (due to the lack of this figure in many companies) should remain alert and think twice before implementing a hashtag.

And they lived happily ever after. Successful cases of campaigns through hashtags

The growing use of popular hashtags on Twitter has become an increasingly prominent trend among the millions of users and organizations that navigate this social network, in search of information, trends and notoriety.

Over the last few years, emblematic brands have managed to successfully execute viral marketing strategies through their hashtags. Such is the case of the American fast food chain Domino’s Pizza, which in the United Kingdom, during the month of March, ingeniously managed to boost the participation of its huge community of users on Twitter by offering attractive discounts on pizza.

Mechanics? Simply contagious. From 9:00 am to 11:00 am for each tweet containing the hashtag devised by the company: “#letsdolunch”, the pizza restaurant would lower a penny to the final price of one of the pizzas in its menu (Pepperoni Passion ), which customers could enjoy on the same day from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

The simple but aggressive campaign was a success for the food chain not only in terms of sales but also in terms of image, influence and viral reach in the network.

Grow fame and go to sleep

For some companies, hashtags have undoubtedly helped to boost the presence of their brands and even to move them to spaces that until now had not been explored in the extensive and labyrinthine world of Twitter. However, hashtags are not always the most prudent tool to capture valuable followers and strengthen themselves in terms of image. The bad reputation and the constant shortcomings in the quality of the products and services offered by a company are shadows that remain regardless of the communication channel used. Bringing the brand to Twitter will not allow a company to turn the page and start from scratch to build its image based on the messages it communicates. It is the actions and the efficiency of their business practices that will be reflected to a greater extent in the responses of their followers

A classic example of this is McDonald’s, one of the brands with the greatest presence in the world, a symbol of the Western world, of capitalism, characterized by its vast annual income, a wide variety of fast food products, its solid global positioning and numerous episodes. of crisis over the years that have left convalescing in more than one opportunity the corporate image and reputation of this corporate giant.

In an effort to humanize the brand and boost user participation through content with emotional nuances, McDonald’s launched a campaign on Twitter through the hashtag “#McDStories” (MacHistorias), with the purpose of encouraging the community to share Your favorite stories and moments with the brand.

As expected and according to the company’s forecasts, the hashtag reached a viral level in a short time, spreading instantly among the millions of followers and users of the social network. However, to the horror of McDonald’s, the messages and “McDStories” that later plagued the web did not correspond in the least to the image they planned to project on themselves. Instead of sharing fun and entertaining anecdotes about the brand, people boycotted the campaign by sending ironic messages through Twitter such as: “The time my brother found a pair of false nails in his potatoes #McDStories” or “It’s worth it Inhuman killing of chickens to prepare a good McPollo hamburger? #McDStories “.

The disastrous result of a poorly designed and poorly crafted Social Media campaign put the brand once again in the eye of the hurricane, exposing it to sarcasm and the raw honesty of millions of people willing to sabotage at all costs this brief attempt to build a effective interaction

The error of McDonald’s and its Social Media team? Assume that the positive image they had of themselves as a fun, optimistic company full of stories to share was similar or corresponded to the opinion of their followers and customers.

For these companies and other organizations with notable presence in social networks there are some key aspects to consider before planning and executing an efficient hashtags campaign through Twitter.

  1. Listen to your community, be part of it and join its hashtags.

In an environment in which everyone is desperately betting on originality, it is not always advisable or advisable to flaunt our creativity when interacting on Twitter. Participating in casual conversation topics, fun and entertaining through existing hashtags that have good reception among your followers, is a simple and more secure way to be part of the conversation. Sound spontaneous, natural and add the personal touch of your brand to every interaction.

  1. Determine the level of risk and develop a crisis plan.

Despite the careful and high level of planning behind a meticulous campaign, virtually every hashtag is subject to a certain probability (much less for some companies) of being boycotted in a variety of possible ways and under different intentions. Therefore, being clear about the risks and discussing the possible negative consequences of a hashtags campaign will allow you to have action routes and containment plans in case of an accident.

  1. Establish carefully what type of hashtags match the objective of the proposed strategy and the brand image.

When creating a hashtag, it is important to clearly outline the objectives you intend to achieve through the strategy. Choose carefully the words to be used, making sure that they contain the sense or intention desired for that purpose. Analyze the use of the hashtag in different contexts and as far as possible consult the opinion of third parties, like other members of the work team, about the term you plan to use before launching it into the network.

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