There are many brands that just don’t belong on social media, says Mark Ritson, associate professor of marketing and branding expert at Melbourne Business School.
And while there are a number of people who are either nodding their heads vigorously in agreement or are rendered to the floor in utter shock at the audacity to suggest such a thing, there’s no denying some brands are just plain irritating on social.
Popular and trending hashtags are one such way brands can inject themselves in the social media chatter. The reality TV warzone at the moment between Seven’s My Kitchen Rules, Nine’s The Block and Ten’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! is filled with the respective hashtags of the programs and is a way for relevant brands to tap into the audience.
While some brands try to slide seamlessly into the conversation with a witty or quirky sentence, others just pump out tweets while inserting the trending hashtags, which may or may not have any relevance, so they appear when people are searching.
Social media strategist Amaury Treguer from agency We Are Social says it’s just spam.
“Brands using popular hashtags and/or key trending topics to communicate about themselves or their services is basically just spam,” he says.
“However done nicely, with relevant copy and/or visual, brands contributing to trending conversations can be really successful. For example, at the Grammy Awards last year, US sandwich chain Arby’s, with their Pharrell-esque hat logo, tweeted at Pharrell asking him to give them their hat back, using the #GRAMMYs hashtag.”
Similarly, Sam Mutimer, director of social media agency Thinktank Social, says using the trending hashtags without adding anything remotely of value is damaging to the brand.
“If simply hijacking a hashtag and not adding any value to the conversation apart from pimping out the brand is a tactic, I’d strongly recommend they don’t for the reputation of the brand,” she says.
“In 2015, you have to not only play in the social media space, but play well, just having a presence isn’t good enough. Riding off a trending hashtag to not add any further value isn’t good enough. Riding off a hashtag and adding to the conversation and being relevant, tick!”
We Are Social’s Treguer suggests brands need to ask themselves a few questions before jumping on the hashtags.
“Are we a partner or sponsor of the show/event, which would justify tweeting about it? Is the topic relevant to my brand? Are we going to contribute something valuable to the conversation or are we just using a popular topic to communicate about our brand in a tacky way?