Republicans’ #areyoubetteroff Hashtag Backfires when Twitter Responds ‘Yes’

Unless you’ve been plugging your ears and humming every time a political ad or news story has invaded your living room (we understand the urge), you’ve inevitably heard Mitt Romney (or his campaign) ask some version of the question, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

Earlier this week, in an effort to use Twitter to further the message that Romney can succeed where the president has failed, the GOP used the social network’s promoted hashtag service to purchase #areyoubetteroff, and is paying $120,000 per day for the privilege. Not a bad investment really, assuming that once the hashtag was out in cyberspace and no longer in the hands of the GOP, people decided to use it the way the republicans were expecting (by answering with a resounding, “No! We are not better off! Romney for president!”). But unfortunately for Romney, the Twitterverse had an overwhelmingly different response.

In fact #areyoubetteroff was combined with the word “yes” more than 1,800 times in its first 24 hours, while it was only paired with “no” around 600 times during the same time period. Since then, the yes/no ratio has been an embarrassing 5 to 1. To make matters worse for the Romney campaign, their problem child of a hashtag has already spawned rebuttal hashtags like #iambetteroff and #betteroff.

While the Obama campaign has yet to respond directly to the unforeseen support, we wouldn’t be surprised if one of those rebuttal hashtags is officially adopted at some point soon. In the meantime, we think there’s a PR lesson to be learned here; when you create a sponsored hashtag, you can’t assume it will be used the way you’d like. Remember the old adage: when you assume, you make an ass out of you and…well…in this case, just you.