T he Dangers of Hashtag Hijacking
Before adding a hashtag to Twitter, do two things:
1) Search Twitter to see if the hashtag is already in use.
2) If in use, educate yourself as to how the hashtag is being used.
By following these simple steps, you can avoid stepping into the kind of eternal hornets nest that @DiGiornoPizza found themselves cheerfully skipping through until it was far too late.
Like many brands, DiGiorno Pizza has an active Twitter account, built through the frequent use of hashtag hijacking. For those unfamiliar, hashtag hijacking is when you take a top trending hashtag and use it to insert yourself into the conversation. That way, anyone searching for that popular hashtag will discover (and hopefully follow) you. For DiGiorno, their two step process for hashtag hijacking looked like this:
1) Find a popular hashtag.
2) Use the hashtag to make a joke about pizza.
On Monday night, the result of this problematic formula was:
To those who’ve heard of the #WhyIStayed conversation the problem is immediately apparent. #WhyIStayed is part of a hot-button conversation about domestic violence. Both men and women used the hashtag to share reasons for staying in an abusive relationship. The stories are complex. They are painful. And then DiGiorno interrupted with an off-handed joke in the hopes of boosting its follower count. A mistake that could have easily been avoided by typing #WhyIStayed into Google.
Three days later and the frozen pizza titan is still cleaning up after the mistake. It has removed the insensitive tweet and committed itself to apologizing directly to anyone offended by the error. How long will they have to keep it up? As long as the rest of us choose to express our displeasure.