Twitter hashtag campaign backfires by unhappy customers

Twitter hashtag campaign backfires by unhappy customers

Posted by Torben Rick | January 30, 2012 | Social Media
bashtag - hashtag campaign backfires

What happens when the hashtag gets hijacked

Many company’s have discovered that using hashtags effectively can put Twitter and social media campaigns over the top. But what happens when a hashtag campaign backfires?

An attempt to launch a Twitter campaign in the midst of a bitter strike affecting thousands of passengers did backfire for Qantas.

The company hoped to generate some positive PR with a post asking followers to suggest their dream in-flight experience using the hashtag #qantasluxury. But Qantas didn’t count on angry customers hijacking the Twitter competition to vent their frustrations with the airline.


McDonald’s launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #McDStories – it was hoping that the hashtag would inspire heart-warming stories about Happy Meals. Instead, it attracted snarky tweeps – some sample tweets:

McDStories hashtag - Hashtag campaign backfires


Based on Reddit’s popular AMA (Ask Me Anything) the idea seemed super simple: open up Twitter to ask – AskJPM – investment banker Jimmy Lee anything. Anything?

Hashtag campaign backfires - Bashtag - Ask JPM


Such behaviour led to the term “bashtag” being coined to describe situations in which a corporate Twitter hashtag is used to criticize the company.

Be careful when creating hashtag campaigns – it may unleash unintended negative consequences for the brand.

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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

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