Let’s talk Hashtag Exhibitions!

As a brand, how do you mitigate the damage from online hashtag campaigns against your company or institution?

Minimizing the damage of a negative Twitter hashtag against your company, as we saw with the #KampalaPotholeExhibition or the #UgandaHealthExhibition, requires a careful & strategic approach. Negative hashtags can spread rapidly on social media, so it’s crucial to address the situation promptly & effectively.

Here are some steps you can take to mitigate the damage:

  1. Monitor the situation: Stay vigilant & closely monitor the negative hashtag’s spread, preferably with social listening tools that capture comments across multiple Social media channels, forums like Reddit & online publications, as well as the sentiment & conversations surrounding it. A good example of a Social listening tool that does this is Meltwater, from which I have posted several screenshots with results in the past.
  2. Assess the situation: Determine the scope & severity of the issue. Identify the source of the negative sentiment & whether it’s a genuine concern or a coordinated attack from several users. A common recurring tactic these days is for parties to plan the attack on Reddit or WhatsApp before launching the initial salvos.
  3. Stay calm & avoid reacting emotionally: Reacting impulsively or defensively can exacerbate the situation as we saw on Twitter in the past months. Take a step back, breathe, & focus on developing a thoughtful response. Having a Crisis Management plan in place is essential in assisting in such “hot-blooded” moments.
  4. Investigate the root cause: Look into the complaints & concerns raised by users behind the hashtag. Understand the issues they are highlighting, even if the way they express them is negative.
  5. Respond authentically & transparently: Craft a sincere response that acknowledges the concerns raised by users. Address the issues, take responsibility for any legitimate mistakes, & communicate your commitment to resolving them. Having a holding statement in place will give you the wiggle room to investigate & then give a concrete answer to the issue at hand.
  6. Engage with your audience: Engage in conversations with your followers & users who are participating in the hashtag. Show empathy & actively listen to their concerns. & for Christ’s sake, don’t block errant followers that will only add fuel to the fire.
  7. Empower your advocates: If you have satisfied customers or supporters, encourage them to share their positive experiences using your product or service. Positive testimonials can help counterbalance the negative sentiment. Make sure to share their posts to your audience to spread their endorsements.
  8. Work with influencers & brand advocates: If appropriate, collaborate with influencers or brand advocates to help spread positive messages about your company & counteract the negativity. But be very sparing with this approach, don’t use it as you’re only or main thrust to counter the negative ads. Ensure to brief your influencers not to turn it into a brawl with back & forth abuse.

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