PSA: Please Hashtag Responsibly

Jackie Kollar
November 8, 2016

Social media is a great powerful marketing tool for getting the word out and making a statement – #Bradjolina, I’m looking at you.

Similar to other real-time platforms, there’s a high risk for error and misstep. And yes, at first the thought of creating a social post that could be seen by millions can be intimidating. But that’s why you’re reading this, to figure out how to stay on top of your game, maintain relevancy, and most importantly, keep up with online chatter while seamlessly managing your brand’s reputation.

Before you hit that publish button it is crucial to set up an active listening plan to avoid online blunders.

Remember the term “social” indicates a two-way street. Sure, we harp on about how your brand should be publishing content on social media throughout the week, but don’t forget that listening is just as valuable. Facebook, Twitter and other channels provide instant access to users, feedback and topical conversations. Hello, FREE research.  

Analytics and proof of numbers are great, and hey I get it, everyone has a numbers person in the office. But let’s take those results a step further and analyze the audience. Are users happy? What are they talking about? What are they interested in? Knowing their affinities, politics and beliefs could prevent you from making a social media faux pas.

Remember: social media is a world in and of itself, and as digital marketers, we need to ensure that we have a full understanding of how the brand is being represented and what conversations and hashtags are trending online. The second you ignore the online conversation you run the risk of missing key terms and sentiment from the masses.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a moment to look back at a few major WTF moments.


In 2014 women took to Twitter to discuss their experiences in abusive relationships using #WhyIStayed. DiGiorno jumped on the trend without listening to the actual conversation and incorporated the hashtag into what they thought was a quirky tweet.

The tweet lasted a few minutes before being deleted and replaced with an apology. But as we’ve learned in the very trying election year, a few minutes on Twitter is equivalent to an eternity.  

Now, while DiGiorno totally screwed up on being a part of a conversation that they clearly should not have been, they did take the correct next step in responding. They crafted personalized tweets and sent them to the users offended by the post.


Back in 2011, Entenmann’s posted with the trending #NotGuilty to let their followers know that they shouldn’t feel guilty about eating low-calorie treats. Harmless, right?

Maybe, except during that specific day, #NotGuilty was trending when Casey Anthony was found not guilty in her trial around the death of her two-year-old child. You can imagine that the online audience did not find this amusing and quickly snapped back at Entenmann’s.

Entenmann’s followed up by removing the tweet and apologizing to its audience.

Lesson: Don’t be the next DiGiorno or Entenmann’s.

What now? How do you not repeat these mistakes? How do you actively listen?

And speaking of listening, keep listening as we host ChatterBlast University’s next workshop on crisis communication via social media. We’ll cover the importance of listening along with other key elements to make up a proactive crisis communication plan. See you there.