Celebrities and prominent government members often join Twitter with good intentions. They want to inform and engage their audience. After all, Twitter is brilliant for disseminating news, albeit news that is often read in snippets and reconstructed out of context.
But sometimes these public figures find that they have bitten off more than they can chew when a hashtag goes viral.
Brands could find that their carefully crafted campaign goes awry.
The Twitter hashtag gets hijacked and a meme begins. The results can often be more entertaining than the original campaign. They are certainly much more fun.
David Cameron, the Conservative UK Prime Minister Joined Twitter and posted his first tweet last Friday.
Barack Obama is much more social and has had a Twitter account since March 2007.
“I'm starting Conference with this new Twitter feed about my role as Conservative Leader. I promise there won't be "too many tweets..."
Lord Prescott, a long time Labour politician was quick to comment:
The #askdave hashtag has been hijacked ever since with tweets poking fun at the Prime Minister, or containing barbed retorts about current government policies.
The London Metropolitan Police Service recent hashtag has also been hijacked.
Last week the Autumn anti-burglary campaign was launched giving advice such as simple steps to protect your home. Several forces across the London Metropolitan area have been tweeting tips to prevent burglaries and safeguard your belongings:
The 'think like a burglar' campaign might not be going the way that the Metropolitan police thought it would. They didn’t expect that the Twitterati would step in and have fun with the campaign:
The hash tag thread is a bit like ‘Car Crash TV’ right now. You know you should not look at the scene in front of you but you just can not help yourself. Reading the tweets does uncover useful tips amongst the wit and humour to help you secure your home and property.
If a brand still wants to have a fun social campaign and is prepared for the backlash that it might receive then it might wish to go ahead and encourage use of a Twitter hashtag.
But it needs to make sure that it has the resources in place to deal with the hijack -- when it happens.