Hashtag Hijack: How to avoid your social media campaign to go horribly wrong

Jan 22, 2015
A couple of months ago, the New York Police Department (NYPD) fell victim to a hashtag hijack. Combining law enforcement with a good public image isn’t always easy in a city like New York. That is why the NYPD launched a Twitter campaign as an attempt to boost their public image. In their tweet, they encouraged people to post pictures of themselves with a member of the NYPD and the hashtag #myNYPD. They hoped to get overloaded with pictures of smiling citizens and friendly cops.

Hashtag out of control

Although the intention was good, it wasn’t long before the hashtag #myNYPD got hijacked and their social media campaign went horribly wrong. The NYPD, although specialized in computer crime investigations, severely underestimated their inability to control what is happening on various social media. People started posting brutal pictures of arrests and fights. At the end of the day, 70.000 tweets were already posted and the #myNYPD hashtag was a top trending hashtag, even overtaking #HappyEarthDay.

Do not underestimate the power of a social media campaign

Social media campaigns are cheap and fast but many companies are still unaware of the potential consequences they may provoke. Channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube offer the consumer a voice, a way to express his feelings and complaints about your product with just a single click. Do not ignore such complaints. They can start to live their own lives and before you know it, your company image, which has took you so long to build, can be crushed by the end of the day. Social media can make or break your product, so you should monitor what is being said about your product in order to adequately respond as soon as possible.

Tools to tackle all those tweets

But it’s not that easy. As of today more than 300 billon tweets have been sent (yes, that’s 300.000.000.000). And that amount is growing with more than 6000 tweets per second.  So how do you decide what matters and when it matters? The last years, a lot of tools have been developed to tackle these issues. The tools help you to filter all data on social media and to display only those that provide meaningful insights for you. They will help you to react on pressing issues before they start escalating and creating too much negative buzz. In contrast with the first generation of social media analytics tools, the newest have strong natural language processing systems. These allow to understand what is being said. For instance, the software will understand that “The new product X will never be good” is negative instead of just scanning ‘good’ and stating that the incoming message is positive. Because of this, these tools allow you to filter on “Strong Negative” for example and thus enable you to view all social media messages with a very bad connotation.

Social media solutions by SAP

Also SAP has developed quite some Social Media solutions. In the article Social Media solutions by SAP: What is out there?  a nice ‘matrix’ of these solutions is provided.

From the first day that our Delaware Consulting social media project started, we have been monitoring our social media accounts. Have you?