You’ve just left the comfortable and cushioned hotel conference room where you took a workshop called How to Run a Successful Hashtag Campaign and you are excited to launch your brand’s next hashtag campaign. You meet with your marketing department. Together, you determine your goals for the campaign. You start the hashtag campaign and within the first hour, you notice a rogue tweeter has co-opted your hashtag and spun it around into a negative reflection on your brand. It’s not as bad as when McDonald’s launched its failed #McDStories that was hijacked by numerous rogue tweeters bashing on McDonald’s. But this isn’t the kind of brand mention you were hoping for. So, what do you do?

Unless you can be funny and unless it fits within the hashtag brand persona, it is best to avoid feeding the rogue tweeters by responding to their comments. However, if you can be funny and it does fit into your brand persona to do so with that particular hashtag campaign, you can turn the rogue negative use of your hashtag into a successful saved campaign. Take a look at what DiGiorno’s Pizza did when their hashtag campaign, #DiGiorNOYOUDIDNT, was hijacked.

Now, you’ve learned an important lesson. When you start a hashtag campaign, be prepared with a contingency plan. Although it is rare for a hashtag campaign to totally derail and fall off the tracks, be prepared for what you will do if it does get taken over. Brainstorm with your colleagues possible scenarios for how your hashtag could be misappropriated. End the campaign early if more than one rogue tweeter is using the hashtag in a negative manner.

Perhaps, reply in a humorous way if it’s one solo hijacker. If the negative train is building more steam and seems to be taking off in a viral fashion towards a potential crash, then don’t feed the trolls by replying. Ignore them and stop using the hashtag for your campaign. In the world of Twitter, it will die down soon enough. Inform your real followers that there are trolls attacking your hashtag and ask them not to interact with the trolls so the negativity train will slow down.

If a legitimate concern is expressed by someone using your hashtag, show that you can help resolve that complaint by offering to help; otherwise, if it’s just a rogue tweeter out to hijack your campaign, lay low and ignore them until they go away in pursuit of a better target.

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