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Hashtagging is an excellent tool for social media marketing, helping to draw relevant traffic to your account across Twitter, Instagram and even Facebook. However, you have to be careful not to make an unintentional hashtag faux pas that lands you on a #HashtagFail list, otherwise your innocent marketing tool could turn into something your business needs to apologize for. Or, perhaps worse, make you the laughing stock of the internet. Here are some hashtagging fails that encapsulate what NOT to do:

  1. Susan Boyle’s Album Release Party

This happened a while ago now back in 2012, but it’s still hilarious and there’s still a valuable lesson to be learned. To get some hype around a release party for Susan Boyle’s album, her PR team used the hashtag #SusanAlbumParty. If only the PR team had carefully reread their hashtag before publishing it. It was soon changed, but as we all know; what is posted on the internet, stays on the internet. The evidence of this blunder can never be properly removed. In fact, the hashtag is still being used today as a case study for poor hashtag choices.

LESSON LEARNED: Make sure you read all possible misinterpretations of your hashtag. If it can be misread, it will be. 


  1. #NowThatchersDead

This one caused a fair amount of confusion online when it first came about. When Margaret Thatcher died, this hashtag started trending, #nowthatchersdead. Some misread the hashtag and the internet broke into rumors and stress that Cher had passed away. Another example of what happens when you fail to read all the possible interpretations of a hashtag.


  1. Chester Literary Festival

The Chester Literary Festival wanted to create a hashtag that shortened their name into a convenient and snappy hashtag to associate with their event. That’s a good idea, right? It was just unfortunate that they shortened it to #cLitFest… *facepalm*

c Lit fest

  1. Research in Motion

Blackberry wanted to promote their job openings at Research in Motion. So, of course, they chose the hashtag #RIMjobs. Naturally.

LESSON LEARNED: Be careful of acronyms. Be sensitive to the meaning of the words they may create.


  1. What the French Fry

Burger King released a low fat french fry, and tried to use the hashtag #wtff to promote their new product. #wtff, intended to mean ‘What the French Fry’, was supposed to be used for consumers posting photos of the new product. What was the hashtag actually used for? The classic meaning of ‘wtf’ with an extra ‘f’ for emphasis. In fact, the hashtag was already widely used for this meaning before Burger King tried to use it.

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t try to adopt acronyms or hashtags that are already widely used; your brand will be lost in the sea of posts employing the original meaning, and irrelevant posts will overshadow your message.


The best advice we can give? Carefully comb over every single character in your potential brand hashtag with the filter and mind of a witty, dirty, and geeky sixteen year old on the internet looking to cause trouble and get some laughs. If you try to adopt a hashtag that is already widely used, keep in mind that your message will likely be lost in the original meaning of the hashtag. We can learn from the errors of those before us, who fell victim to internet trolls and the effect of capitalizing alternate words within the same hashtag to create a different meaning. Hashtags are handy to use for your social media marketing conquests, but make sure you think carefully before you post. We would hate for you to be at the top of a ‘Hashtag Fails’ blog post one day.

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