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8 hashtag blunders that damaged brands in 2013

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But the adage of act in haste, repent at leisure rings so true in the case of Twitter – especially where the hashtag is concerned. From unintentional double entendres, to ‘hashtag hijacking’ and catastrophic blunders, this year has seen its fair share of toe-curling mistakes that really had the potential to damage businesses, brands and their champions.

Taking a step back is vital for businesses plotting their arrival on social media. Strategy, audience targeting and quality content should be absolute king – not to mention proofing to avoid embarrassments slipping through the net. However, exploring others’ successes and mistakes also provides valuable insight, so Cognition Agency has pitched in to pick its top 8 hashtag horrors that left their mark way into 2013.

1. Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary’sTwitter Q&A was revealing

Through #GrillMOL, a picture waspainted of a slightly sexist and invariably defiant CEO, who wasmore than a little past caring about customer service.

2. In late 2012, The White House called on Congress to halt a tax rise 

This would see middle class families pay more than $2,000 extra in tax a year. It asked Americans to reveal what that money would mean to them, using #My2k, and the anti-backlash was swift, lasting into 2013.

3. JPMorgan  set up a tweet chat with Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee to focus on career advice. 

Instead, #AskJPM turned into a mass questioning about libor rigging, market manipulation and fraud.

4. Kenneth Cole used protests in Egypt to signpost to its new collection

He tweeted: ‘Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at…’ And earlier this year the conflict in Syria was also used to similar effect.

5. News sources and brands collectively adopted #Frankenstorm 

They use the hashtag for when tweeting about the horror of hurricane Sandy, benefitting by using the associated hashtag to drive traffic.

6. British Gas’ recent Twitter Q&A 

#AskBG –prompted a tirade of abuse that was covered by national news. What’s more, the firm’s social media manager went on to reply ‘no comment’ to a tweeter’s question, as she was on maternity leave at the time.

7. Boris Johnson took part in an #AskBoris tweet chat

Unfortunately, the hashtag had hijack written all over it from the start.

8. Tesco was among the supermarkets and brand names embroiled in the ‘horse meat’ scandal

Shortly after, its social media team generated more headlines with, “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets.”

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