Yesterday, I received a fun package. It was from a copywriter/creative that I have worked with in the past. She had just completed a new hair product line launch and wanted to share the product with me as it had a “fun social aspect” integrated. She sent me the complete line of hair products along with a “sell” brochure. First, we did what any girls would do with a bunch of free hair product. and “styled” our hair (by styled I mean we tried to make our hair as wacky as possible). The products themselves worked great but the issue came with the social media aspect. The product is fun and the target audience obviously fits with the demographics of the social media savvy young adult and hipster crowd. Every product has a hashtag associated with the it on the label. There were also several company hashtags integrated into the marketing brochure. My 17-year-old daughter and I had fun scanning the QR code on the brochure and watching the video attached to it. We also had fun on their website and checked out their social channels. After discovering their Twitter, we pulled out our smartphones and tried out the hashtags. The first hashtag went with a hair putty. The hashtag was #wreckit and well let’s just say that it’s not really where you want to direct your 17-year-old. #Wreckit is a hashtag already used by obnoxious people talking about drinking, failing tests and the worst tweets were graphic and gross. After the first “hashtag fail” I quickly looked up the other product hashtags to see how they were being used. I found that out of the five hashtags the company promoted, they themselves were not using any of them on Twitter. A few of their product hashtags had no customers using them (which is positive because they can step in and try to “own” the hashtag) and a few were heavily used for other random conversations. Although a hashtag may be heavily used, it won’t necessiarly help the brand. Sometimes people using these hashtag are using the for “fun” and not necessarily associating it with the brand or what others are saying and a product. This means that unfortunately, a company can lose their voice within the hashtags. Of course I wonder: who helped this company come up with this social media integration and what was their strategy? For a brand to use hashtags on all their product labels, websites and social channels, but then not to “own” those hashtags and failing to check the hashtags to see if they are being used is a big deal. I doubt this company wants to or can afford to change labels and materials for products that have poorly selected hashtags. If I were running this brand what would I do now? Minimally I would start using the hashtags on Twitter and Pinterest and try to “own” them (there are two that they will never gain ownership over especially the #wreckit hashtag). I would change these hashtags to ones the company could own, minimally I would change the #wreckit hashtag as I would not want my brand associated with such a negative hashtag. Of course it’s easier to sit on the outside and give feedback, versus being on the inside of this brand launch and campaign, so I have not idea what they are planning. But whatever they may be planning in the future – owning the hashtags now is important and they should step it up. How do you “own” a hashtag? Come back tomorrow and I will give you some tips on that. Photo Credit
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