Community managers are quick to jump on a trending hashtag, often without knowing the meaning of the hashtag. In other cases, well-meaning brands create hashtags intended to spark positive engagements with followers, only to have the hashtags used against them. Both are examples of hashtag hijacks, and they can be disastrous for brands. Here are three of the most embarrassing hashtag hijacks of 2014.

 

#WhyIStayed

#WhyIStayed Tweet

(Twitter.com/DiGiornoPizza)

 

Created in response to the Ray Rice elevator video, #WhyIStayed was one of the top hashtags on Twitter in the days following the video’s release. Thousands of female Twitter users responded to #WhyIStayed to explain why they stayed in abusive relationships. In a costly mistake, DiGiorno hijacked the hashtag.

 

DiGiorno quickly apologized for the mistake, explaining that they hijacked the hashtag without knowing its meaning. Takeaway? If you’re going to hijack a hashtag without knowing what it means (don’t do that), apologize immediately. You should also delete the tweet, but as you can see from the screenshot, deleting a tweet won’t stop it from going viral.

 

#myNYPD

#myNYPD Tweet

(Twitter)

In what could only end in disaster, the NYPD invited the public to share photos of themselves with NYPD officers, along with the #myNYPD hashtag. Predictably, the public hijacked the hashtag and responded with angry comments about police brutality. Some Twitter users even uploaded photos of police brutality. The NYPD didn’t need to apologize for this tweet, but inviting such a PR disaster calls the department’s social media intelligence into question.

 

 

 

 

#BendGate

LG #Bendgate Tweet

(Twitter)

Apple competitors smelled blood in the water when a handful of consumers alleged that the new iPhone 6 bent in their pockets. News about #BendGate spread fast, and smartphone maker LG decided to have a little fun with Apple on Twitter. Unfortunately, LG tweeted the hashtag from an iPhone. This epic oops is a reminder that when sending messages to the public, you must carefully choose the right person and platform to deliver your message. In LG’s case, it made the wrong choice in both categories.

 

Do you know of another hashtag hijack that hurt a brand in 2014? Leave us a comment or tweet me @nataliepetitto