One of the biggest reasons that social media account holders use hashtags is to stay engaged with other users who are talking about the same topics. The hashtag construction has become a familiar trigger for people to see what is trending: a pound sign followed by words or phrases all typed together without spaces. So what happens when you originate the hashtag, and its popularity goes off the rails and far out of the context you intended?
What is Hashtag Hijacking?
Some hashtag followers are not interested in showing up for the conversation. Instead, they are trolling trending topics to see what is getting the most attention. They connect the hashtags with the most volume to a tweet or post with a link that is totally unrelated. Usually, the link is a promotion to sell something or some attempt to get you to click and build site traffic.
This kind of hijacking is irritating but not something you should spend a lot of time fighting. The typical hashtag troll is piggybacking on whatever is most popular, so if some new current event is in the headlines, he will move on to hijack the next most popular thing.
There is another type of hashtag hijacking that is not so calculated. Sometimes it is a promotional campaign, and the hijacker has changed the meaning of the hashtag by a fluke. For example, a company may intend to promote its own name brand by using the hashtag #ILove[BrandCompanyName]. Those who include the hashtag in posts may use it in a sarcastic way to complain about the brand. This definitely pushes against the original intent of the hashtag.
Minimizing the Risk of Being Hijacked
There is no foolproof way to avoid being hijacked in the hashtag world. Conversations and people are unpredictable, and there is no way to pre-determine what other hot topics may coincide with the timing of a PR campaign. The big lesson many marketers have learned is that a hashtag is never totally in the control of the person who starts it. There are ways to minimize the damage, though, if a hashtag spins too far out of control.
First, do the proper research on a hashtag before using it. If you use a common hashtag that has been used by millions of others for an endless range of topics, your posts will be lost in the sea of chatter. It is important to create something distinct, even if it has the same subject matter as something that has been used repeatedly.
If your hashtag is for a company promotion, it is a good idea to keep the company name out of the hashtag. This will keep hijackers from using the company name if they use the hashtag label to push something negative about the company. It is also good to think about things that may benefit others. People always want to know that a hashtag promises a good conversation or some other tangible for them. A hashtag name should clearly show them the promise of what is to come.
How to Make Hashtag Hijacking Work for You
There are hashtag nightmares that can be blessings in disguise. If your goal is to boost visibility with Phoenix SEO company and keep people talking about your brand , even a hijacked hashtag keeps you relevant by keeping your name on many users’ feeds. The adage is true that there is no such thing as bad publicity. There is only a decision to wallow in the negativity of that publicity or turn it to your advantage.
Hijackers who use hashtags to berate a company or brand for dissatisfaction are opening an important door for the company. It gives the company a national stage to respond and re-position themselves for everyone watching. The hashtag gives you a chance to participate in an open exchange and allows a potential customer base to see your PR emergency response skills. You should respond quickly and honestly. This confirms you are authentic and that you care about those who use your products or services. The ability to turn a seemingly dismal hack into a win establishes you as genuine and approachable. People tend to support companies and people who live authentic lives.
In the world of hashtags, behavior is ever evolving. No one can accurately predict the response to a hashtag 100 percent of the time or project how big the payoff may be for the its originator. The best you can do is to always do your homework with Phoenix SEO to make sure you have good timing and you are not setting yourself up to be hijacked. If your best laid plans fail, your campaign should shift quickly to one of resilience, during which you show the world how well you bounce back.