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Beware the hashtag campaign fails, AKA “Haters gonna hate”

Unless you have some sort of background or experience in public relations, you likely don’t think about what could happen when you craft content or a campaign for your company. Here’s your basic rule of thumb: EXPECT THE WORST. Before you unleash anything on the general public, expect the worst and be prepared for it. Even more than that, have a detailed plan for how to handle the worst that could happen. It’s crisis management, and yes, you even need it for Twitter.


Seriously, it’s necessary. Just ask the people behind the #AskRKelly, #AskJPM or #McDStories Twitter campaign fails. While these campaigns and Twitter chats seem harmless enough, the people behind them failed to account for how things might go wrong and spin out of control. Seriously, just look at that screenshot up there. While at least mildly amusing to outsiders – admit it, you laughed – this could be bad news bears for a company’s brand/reputation.

But whyyy does this have to happen? Honestly, I hate to break it to you, but if you’re a large brand, haters gonna hate.

Haters Gonna Hate

Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a few tips on what you can do if you’re a large brand and plan on executing a Twitter chat or #hashtag campaign of some sort:

1. Identify the issues, shortcomings or problems that have most recently existed around your brand or your brand’s industry.

2. Identify long-standing issues and people/groups who do not like your brand and might chime in or hijack your #hashtag.

3. Craft a response or responses before the Twitter chat or #hashtag campaign goes lives so that you can quickly and efficiently respond to the negative tweets on your #hashtag. These responses should be for all recent issues, but should also be for general issues as well. Your responses should turn a negative into a positive (if appropriate) and remind your haters of the positive things that you do and of how you are addressing your issues. (And don’t forget to get these drafted tweets approved by your higher-ups. But that should go without saying.)

4. What did I say up there? EXPECT THE WORST. And accept that it very well could happen.

5. Re-do number 1. I’ll be honest with you: You probably should not hold a Twitter chat or create a #hashtag campaign if the timing is wrong.

6. If you decide the timing is right, and you proceed with this Twitter chat or #hashtag campaign, constantly monitor your #hashtag so that you can sift through the positives and negatives.

7. Be sure to respond to and highlight your positive/real questions with good, thorough answers.

8. If the worst does happen, make sure you understand the delicate balance of pulling the plug gracefully and just running. Simply running could do more harm than good. Be prepared to stand tall and be efficient.

Not sure if the timing is right for your Twitter chat or #hashtag campaign? That’s something your higher-ups should be able to help you determine. If not, you could always contact us! We have lots of experience with large brands on social networks, and we would love to do some research and work with you.