Hang Onto Your Hashtag! What To Do if Your Hashtag Gets Hijacked

How to Survive a Hashtag Hijacking

This week in hashtags has seen a smallish company OnePlus respond to a larger one, Verizon in a concerted effort to hang onto their hashtag.  OnePlus is asserting that they are the originators of the #NeverSettle hashtag and slogan, which has recently been used as part of a larger nationwide ad campaign by Verizon.   In a clever bit of marketing amidst the ashes, OnePlus is fighting back with a Thunderclap campaign protesting the Hashjacking by Verizon and offering fans and followers a “surprise” for coming to their aid.

OnePlus #NeverSettle Campaign

It happens every day. Hashtags are hijacked, either by accident or on purpose. So how do you avoid being a hashtag hijacker? Do you know what to do if your hashtag gets jacked? 

Here are a few ways to battle and/or avoid this situation entirely.

1. Do Your Research

If you’ve done due diligence, you should not have to worry about stealing someone else’s active hashtag.

2.  Think About It. Really think.

Careful strategizing can help you avoid social backlash from less thrilled followers ( see #MYNYPD hashtag.)   If you are trying to buff up your image, you might want to avoid a tag that invites negative commentary and narrative.

3. Ask Nicely

Not all hashtag misunderstandings have to lead to a standoff. Occasionally the hashjacking has occurred by accident and the perpetrator is willing to change to another tag. Using someone else’s well established tag/slogan can only lead to confusion for them.

4. Consider Sharing and/or Collaborating

If you have been using a community hashtag that is especially broad in nature, you might want to consider not hogging the territory all to yourself. Sharing the tag may end up leading to opening up new groups and finding new followers.

Example: #CampChat has existed for three years as a seasonal summer camp chat series run by Catalina Island Camps. More recently the hashtag has been used by camping enthusiast blog Campstake during their weekly chats about camping. The two groups agreed to cohabitate. Fans and followers from both series participated in both chats, and both parties experienced a benefit from the cross-pollination.

5. Fight back.  

If you’ve fought for community and your hashtag has high value to you,  you might want to watch what happens with OnePlus closely. OnePlus is actively demonstating that the underdog doesn’t have to give in. They’ve come up with a clever strategy that involves mobilizing their fan base as well as PR.

6. Surrender. Sometimes it’s not worth the fight. If you’re not up to the battle, or if the connotations created by a hashjacking are just too negative to overcome, you just have to let it go and come up with a new hashtag. It doesn’t only happen to the little guys. Look at what happened to Mcdonald’s hijacked hashtag during the Sochi Olympics. 

7. Wait it out. Not all hashtag hijackings end in tragedy.  Often, a hashtag that’s been hijacked temporarily can be recovered. Hijackers don’t tend to stick around long term. They move on.  More benign and humorous hashjackings may even yield some clever future marketing materials.

About Ciaran Blumenfeld

Ciaran Blumenfeld is a serial entrepreneur with a pedigree in marketing & advertising. She's one of the original co-founders of Hashtracking. She enjoys a strong, engaged personal social media presence with footholds in the parenting, lifestyle and travel markets. As a marketer Ciaran can be found overseeing multi-platform digital campaigns from strategy to execution. This is when her geek side shows.

One Response to Hang Onto Your Hashtag! What To Do if Your Hashtag Gets Hijacked

  1. Annie @ Ethical Thinker May 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    I think there is a difference between jumping onto a hashtag to comment on or protest something that the hash tag originator is doing versus just deciding you’d like to use an existing hash tag for a different purpose. The first I see as legitimate way to participate in a conversation that the originator started. The latter seems like a malicious violation of someone’s intellectual property. That said, I do think the onus is on the person who originates that hash tag to register the trademark for it if they truly want to ensure they retain control over it.