Highjacked Hashtag

Mashable Articlehttp://mashable.com/2012/01/24/mcdonaldstwittercampaign/

               Mcdonald’s twitter party gone oh-so-wrong is a perfect example of how social media can go either way for a company. As I have personally handled one of Atari’s twitter party, this article strikes a chord with me. I would not like to see the look on my boss’s face the next morning if the hashtag “#AtariMemories” had garnered as much hate. Fortunately, this was not the case. McDonald’s twitter campaign, however, suffered a pretty large blow in the social media realm. Certainly, I cannot help but laugh a little at the comments some customers made. “I haven’t been to McDonald’s in years, because I’d rather eat my own diarrhea,” read one. “One time I walked into McDonald’s and I could smell Type 2 diabetes floating in the air and I threw up,” said another. Although I might find these comments a bit funny, I’m sure McDonald’s corporation wouldn’t agree.

The fact that a large amount of customers successfully highjacked the hashtag “#McDStories” is a tell tale warning to other corporations about the power of social media. A simple hashtag can unleash a wave of backlash. This raises the questions: “Could this have been prevented?”, “How do other companies avoid such situations?”, and “What is the best way to recover from a “hashtag highjacking” or other similar cases?”. In this case, I don’t think there is a direct answer. However, I do have a piece of advice for weary social media users: Avoid hashtags and subjects that you think will provoke an immediate negative response on social media channels. Although this one was not quite predictable, I have been in situations where I have to do an update on a not-so-favorable game. In one case, my boss suggested adding a hashtag to DLC2 (“#DLC2”) when announcing updates for this game which already had a fan base frustrated by in game problems and slow updates. I, however, suggested staying away from any extra tracking tags as we don’t want to attract more negativity revolving this game to which my boss agreed. Overall, negative sentiment on social media channels is not always stoppable but the preventative medicine is to be weary of what your customers are already saying about your company and products and to steer the conversation accordingly.