You know that you don’t own #hashtags, right? Because if you thought you do, think again.

Hashtags are merely there to link related topics to one another (and to make things trend…sigh). That’s what they were meant to be at least.

Recently, more and more brands have been putting hashtags on their billboards. Hashtags such as #Hotornot (Used by Nandos for people to vote on their sauces), #MakeorPlay (Amstel SA), #Epic (Cell C), etc are being used by brands on their ATL advertising, including street pole ads and billboards. But they don’t own them, and therefore do not know what they associate themselves with when putting these on advertising.


#Hotornot for instance, brought back a whole bunch of interesting euhm profiles and photos for me when I did a search. And it might have been a fantastic campaign for them, I have no doubt about it, but that doesn’t take away the danger.

Anyways, to go back to the point of this story. You don’t own these! And it takes one person to use this hashtag in a negative way towards your brand to throw your whole campaign out.

So when using hashtags (and we all seem to want to use them if I just look around me) there’s a couple of things to watch out for:

  1. Check the hashtag extensively before using it. Familiarise yourself with how this has been used already and see what the impact of that might be on your brand. (#hotornot for instance links you to a bunch of interesting posts. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, then definitely go and check it out!)
  2. Monitor the hashtag like a hawk once you’ve put in on your advertising. Have the people and software in place to monitor all the conversations in case anybody uses it negatively. And know what you will and won’t respond to and how.
  3. Familiarise yourself with your brand’s issues, complaints and haters first. There is always that ONE person that decides to use your hashtag against you for some or other unresolved issue they have with you.



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