Hashtags are a wonderful marketing tool when used ethically and uniquely. Unfortunately for so many marketers out there – ethics are not on their main list of priorities. The spin-off is that many novice marketers fall into a horrible trap – because of something they’ve seen or read about, and tried themselves.

hasg 4 Insights on What Not To Do With Hashtags, Ever!

Today, I’m posting 4 insights that will help you steer clear of bad hashtag marketing practices – they’ll save you a world of trouble!

#1: Never Ever Piggyback on Meaningful Hashtags

Kenneth Cole, the world renowned fashion house, gets a lot of great publicity from supporting meaningful causes. Then, they posted a tweet using the hashtag #Cairo. This tweet was meant to help people find and follow the bloody democratic protests in the country at the time. Only – they used it to drive traffic to their spring collection.

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at ….”

This insensitive tweet caused an outcry on Twitter. They piggybacked on a serious hashtag to sell their products. These hashtags are not meant to sell your products – so never, ever piggyback on controversial or meaningful news hashtags!

#2: Don’t Be Blatant About Your Hashtag Piggybacking

If the new Avengers movie is causing Twitter to come alive – that is an opportunity for marketers who sell dvd’s, music and comics, related to movies. But, if your niche has nothing to do with the movie, you either have to be a darn good writer, or absolutely silly to use this hashtag.

“I love the new #Avengers movie. Check out my scrapbooking website, I’m selling my paper at half price! …”

This is ridiculous. Don’t do it!

#3: Using Base Model Hashtags To Attract Followers

If you’re going to base a hashtag of your own around another popular hashtag – with either the same premise or structure, be careful how you do it. McDonald’s tried to do this with the wholesome foods hashtag #MeetTheFarmers. They started a hashtag, #McDStories, to introduce quotes about the quality of McDonald’s food.

As you can imagine, this didn’t go down well. Thousands of people used the hashtag to complain about the negative quality of McDonald’s food. The lesson? Think about the angle you’re coming from, with your hashtag. Does it invite ridicule? Ask a few people to think about the hashtag first, before it goes live!

#4: Random Popular Hashtag Lists

The final insight here, is about abusing the piggyback system. Yes, you can use popular hashtags if they are relevant to your business or niche. But populating your tweet with #Bieber, #Obama or #iPhone5, is enormously irritating. No one is going to regard your feed as useful, if your tweets make no sense.

The key thing to take away here is, while hashtag piggybacking is considered an unspoken method of expanding your Twitter community, or even making sales – don’t confuse it with ethical practices. Use it at your own peril, and avoid these 4 horrible mistakes marketers make. You don’t want to end up being a hashtag yourself, after a massive Twitter blunder.

Do you think Twitter hashtag piggybacking is ethical or unethical? Have you seen one recently that made you laugh? Share it with us here!