Hashtag Hijack Detours Campaign

Fill in the blank at the end of this hashtag: #ImA                 . Is it that difficult to confine yourself to one hashtag? The “Republicans Are People Too” campaign doesn’t think so.

The goal of this campaign, according to Boston.com, “aims at shattering stereotypes perceived as being exclusively Democrat.” The tool at the forefront of the campaign is the #ImARepublican.

According to PR Daily, Vinny Minchillo, the brains behind the hashtag operation, wanted the campaign to show how the Republican Party is a diverse group, rather than white men in business suits. The video below is an ad from the campaign featuring Prius driving, Trader Joe’s shopping Republicans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iff7mNsGK50&feature=youtu.be

Ideally, this ad, along with the hashtag would do lots of good for the Republican Party. What the campaign designers didn’t consider is hashtag hijacking.

Hashtag hijacking is when “competitors/masses hijack your hashtag and start relaying across their messages, thus diluting the real essence of why your hashtag was created,” according to Business2Community. This is exactly what happened with #ImARepublican.

Individuals started sending the hashtag mocking Republicans instead of supporting the intended initiative. The hijack led to posts criticizing the Republican platforms and candidates.

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Another issue with the hashtag campaign was that many of the photos used in the posts were found from stock photo sites, according to PR Daily. The criticism is that some of the photos don’t even feature Republicans. This photo, found on the Republicans Are People Too Facebook page, is just one of many jabs at the stock photos used.

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If you search #ImARepublican on Twitter, there are seemingly endless posts using the hashtag. This demonstrates how powerful hashtags can be if used correctly.

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The Huffington Post adds to hashtags’ effects by explaining the “5 Ways to Create a World-Trending Hashtag:”

  1. Create a unified tag
  2. Control and direct conversations
  3. Designate a thought leader
  4. Pre-schedule content
  5. Encourage diverse views

#ImARepublican hit most of these aspects, but the curators are failing to control and direct the conversation. They released this follow-up video to address the claims:

http://youtu.be/8tVflsJvcKI

The problem, however, is that this video received 318,800 less views than the original video. While there was an attempt to divert the conversation back to the original intent, it wasn’t effective.

Where do you think the #ImARepublican team went wrong? How would you have addressed the negative use of the hashtag?

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