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Hashtags. They’re a great way to sum up your posts, discover new and exciting content, and keep social media organized into topics. But every now and then, a brand will use a hashtag that isn’t appropriate for their post, doesn’t make sense, or is just straight up hilarious.

Check out these top five historical hashtag fails and what you can learn from them:

A keyboard sits in front of a sign that says hashtag trend.

Ah yes, a party for Susan Boyle’s new album launch! Totally worth celebrating with a great new hashtag. Except that’s not what you read, is it?

We don’t want to get too explicit here, but it’s safe to say an album release party and … whatever THAT is are not quiiite the same.

Your Lesson: Always use camel case, or capitalize the first word of every letter, to make your hashtags easy to read and avoid confusion. #SusanAlbumParty sure would have worked better … although we’ll admit it probably would’ve gotten less attention.

When Research in Motion needed to fill a bunch of new job openings, they used this hashtag to encourage X (formerly known as Twitter) users to join their team.

Once again, we’re going to stay PG here, but let’s just say Urban Dictionary has a definition for this term and RIM probably should have researched it before going public. The company behind Blackberry should have known better.

Your Lesson: If you’re creating a new phrase or using an unfamiliar word in your hashtag, do your due diligence and make sure it’s not something that would make your mother blush.

A cardboard cutout of a hashtag hangs out the edge of a notebook

3. #[Insert 30 generic, irrelevant hashtags here]

We’ve all seen it: a business posts a pretty mundane photo on Instagram, writes a decent caption, but then … they add as many hashtags as they possibly can.

The hashtags are usually so broad they’re attached to millions of posts and will accomplish nothing (hello, #business) or are completely irrelevant to whatever’s in the photo.

You may think you’re going to reach more people, when all you’re doing is cluttering your posts and annoying people who follow those hashtags for relevant content.

Your Lesson: Use hashtags that WORK for your business, localize where possible, and add your hashtags to the first comment, rather than in your post, to make the most of the hashtags you use.

Alright, now we’re just seeing a trend. The Chester Literary Festival used this hashtag to promote their upcoming event and followers were quick to point out their hilarious mistake.

There isn’t really a character limit for hashtags, so there’s no reason to shorten words unnecessarily. If you really want to make your hashtag short and sweet, be careful you don’t accidentally create a different (and inappropriate) word.

Your Lesson: Always get a second pair of eyes before you post. They’ll catch what you don’t!

5. #Cairo

On a more serious note, the brand Kenneth Cole received serious backlash when they used a trending hashtag to promote their spring fashion collection.

Using top hashtags and engaging in timely conversations can be a huge boost for your brand IF it’s done correctly.

Your Lesson: Take a moment to find out why a particular topic is trending before joining the conversation. And if it’s a serious world issue, it’s probably best to step back from promoting your business unless you’re advocating in that area.

Final Thoughts?

The No. 1 lesson from all these hashtag fails is to be respectful and think before you post!

Are you having trouble choosing the right hashtags for your business? Need help with your social media strategy in general? It’s time to go Rogue! Our experts can advise you on big-picture strategy, the nitty-gritty details, or anything in between. Let’s have a chat!

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