How Not To Get Your Hashtag Hijacked (Like McDonald’s Did) [INFOGRAPHIC]

Have you heard of hashtag hijacking? It’s not a fun experience, especially if you’ve spent thousands promoting a hashtag only to have it take over and its meaning changed from the one you originally intended.

McDonald’s is possibly the most visible company to have its hashtags hijacked, with giddy Twitter users twisting the intended meanings into ironic, sarcastic and sometimes spiteful tweets.

This infographic comes to us from MoreDigital, and explores the tailspin McDonald’s experienced during its latest hashtag campaign.

As we documented at the time, McDonald’s began a hashtag campaign in mid-January. They used two hashtags, #McDStories and #MeetTheFarmers to humanize the brand and encourage users to share their favorite McD stories.

Their efforts were partially a success: the hashtags went viral… but not with the messages the company would have liked. Instead of sharing warm and fuzzy memories of eating at McDonald’s, you got tweets like this:

“My brother finding a fake fingernail in his fries #McDStories”

As the infographic below explores, this abrupt about-face in messaging was partly due to McDonald’s not understanding that their message isn’t always their customer’s message. They failed to find common ground between their company and their customers.

As a hijacked hashtag takes on its opposite meaning during its hijacking, it ironically becomes even more popular than its creators originally intended. And – like with McDonald’s – some pretty funny tweets ensue.

Check out tips for avoiding your own embarrassing hashtag hijacking in the infographic below: