Lesson To Marketers: Learn Your Hashtags, Or Suffer Embarrassment

Hashtags are an integral part of Twitter. They organize content, indicate topic, connect tweets and create conversation.

However, as one brand discovered yesterday, hashtags can also be a major source of embarrassment if you don’t check up on what they’re being used for first.

This one’s a story for any marketer who’s new to social media, or someone who wants to know how to do Twitter wrong (and how to recover gracefully).

A popular fresh-baked goods brand, Entenmann’s (@Entenmanns), tweeted the following on Tuesday:

A cute tweet, right? On any other day, perhaps. However, yesterday the “#notguilty” hashtag was trending (along with several other related hashtags) in relation to the not guilty verdict the jury passed down in the Casey Anthony trial. Twitter users and other social media users across the US were outraged that the woman was not found guilty of murdering her young child, and took to the internet to broadcast their disbelief and anger.

And this is where Entenmann’s messed up. Or rather, their social media management company. According to several apologetic tweets and an explanation on their blog, social media management company Likeable apparently moved too quickly to incorporate trending topics into their tweets to look up why they were trending. Here’s an excerpt from the blog:

“The truth is, our team was leveraging the trending topics and moving so fast they neglected to see what the hashtag was related to. It was obviously insensitive, and on behalf of the entire Likeable team and our client, Entenmann’s, I’m sorry.”

To be fair, Likeable’s response was a good one. It was timely, thorough, and Dave (Likeable’s founder) even took the time to respond to each individual comment on his blog post.

It’s not the first time a marketer has jumped on a trending topic only to be called out for insensitivity shortly thereafter, but it does stand as a pretty good lesson to anyone in social media. Check your hashtags before using them. It only takes a second – literally, a single click – and you will be able to see instantly the latest tweets related to that hashtag.

If you’re going to jump on a trending topic to get more visibility for a brand you manage, that’s fine. Just make sure the hashtag is appropriate.

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