Fail3Anyone worth their salt in marketing knows that hashtags are a great way to expand your reach and engage with your audience. Incorporating trending hashtags can show your company’s willingness to keep up with current conversations. Hashtags can also help you dig deeper into your market. For example, you can add a geographical element, like #BoulderTech. The most important thing about using hashtags in your company tweets is to think through the hashtag. Just because you see a hashtag is trending, doesn’t mean you should use it. You DEFINITELY don’t want a DiGiorno disaster on your hands. How do you avoid a Twitter fail of epic proportions? Look before you leap.

My number one rule before using a hashtag is to see how others are using it. Shocking, I know. There have been many times when I think I’ve come up with a great hashtag only to search it on Twitter, see how others are using it, and scrap the hashtag all together. You need to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before you join the conversation. Think of it like this…

twitter_oops_200You walk into a party and see a group of people that you don’t know. You, being the social butterfly that you are, decide to walk over and join the conversation. You hear someone say someone mention the place you work. You think “there’s my in!” and you start complaining about your boss only to find out that one of the people you’re talking to is your boss’s sister. Now you’ve dug yourself into a pretty big hole and digging yourself out it will be a VERY difficult task. A poorly timed hashtag can put you in a tough spot and sometimes trying to do damage control will make the situation even worse.

You may think that doing a bit of research on a hashtag might be a no-brainer. What is even worse is when brands use hashtags thinking that they are being funny but it’s just bad taste (see the Kenneth Cole Twitter fail). Brands do need to be topical and have a personality, but sometimes it’s best to just keep quiet. I’ve yet to hear of a brand getting involved on a Twitter controversy by keeping quiet.

Do you have any tips on avoiding Twitter fails? Leave it in the comments or, better yet, tweet us at @AmadeusTech.