Posts Tagged ‘Business’

Corporations “Late” to the #Party: Overuse of the Infamous Hashtag

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Hashtags seem to be taking over all forms of social media.  Considering Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have almost 2 billion users collectively, it would be a crime for corporations not to take advantage of this free marketing opportunity.  But many wonder, have corporations taken the hashtag too far?  With recent evidence, it would seem so.


Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by a hash sign, which become hyperlinked on social media, grouping posts with the same words or “messages” together.  Common examples are #throwbackthursday accompanying a picture from the past or #sorrynotsorry used to sarcastically apologize for a guilty act one is actually proud of.  Newly developed hashtags are now popping up in ad campaigns, storefronts, billboards and even printed on consumer product packaging.  By using consistent hashtags as part of an advertising campaign, it can extend the conversation about a product or service and reach a broader audience.  Once a hashtag is launched, corporations monitor its use and those who are using it.  They can also interact with those using the hashtag and engage users with large followings on Twitter to encourage their promotion.

Overall the use of a simple word or short phrase has become more powerful than ever, but corporations have recently failed to launch hashtags worthy of attention.  According to the Wall Street Journal, corporations like Neutrogena and Equinox gyms have recently promoted hashtags, #unseenacne and #preapologize, respectively.  Unfortunately both of these hashtags gained negative feedback for what I think are obvious reasons.  First of all, who wants to tweet about unseen ACNE?  Although the majority of social media users are young and probably victims of acne, NO ONE likes to start a conversation about acne.  Neutrogena obviously failed to consult adolescents on this one or even their own common sense.  If no one likes to talk about acne, what makes you think they will tweet about it for the whole world to see?


Now for Equinox, I will applaud them on one thing- their originality.  I have certainly never heard of the word “preapologize” and it is certainly not in Webster’s dictionary.  Unfortunately, creating a new word can lead to many confused users, as Equinox has received many direct questions about the meaning of preapologize.  It turns out that #preapologize was meant to be a copy of a previously popularized hashtag, #sorrynotsorry, but if your users do not know the meaning of your hashtag, it is very difficult for them to use, defeating the purpose of the hashtag.

Before a corporation exposes a new hashtag to the world, it would be wise for them to ask themselves this question: Would I use my corporation’s hashtag?  If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.  As corporations seem out of touch, it may be a good idea to consult the corporation where it all began.  Twitter, Inc. has a team that helps companies integrate hashtags into their marketing campaigns and tend to advise them to “tap into organic trending topics.”  By entering a conversation organically, it may seem less like marketing and more personal.  Do you appreciate corporation’s efforts in attempting to enter the hashtag revolution?  Or do you prefer they stay out of your social network?  Perhaps it’s better for some corporations to stay away from the “difficult-to-master” hashtag and focus their attention elsewhere.

Photo credit: ©

Sporting a Social Media Policy

Friday, September 30th, 2011

A huge fixture of sports in our digital age is the increasing presence of social media as a tool for providing information, insight into teams and entertainment. These social media outlets provide the players, coaches and sometimes even the owners of teams with a means to connect with their fans and supporters. Unfortunately this high level of access means it is rare to go a week without hearing about an athlete who tweeted something inappropriate or wrote an inflammatory blog post. Whether it is players demanding trades or a star player spouting off homophobic slurs, social media has been a breeding ground for scandal.

Only a couple years ago few, if any, teams had social media policies in place. Now, most teams and even some leagues have social media policies in place to protect against errant Tweets or Facebook updates.

Obviously employees of your business do not have the reach and star power of a professional athlete but that does not mean that their use of social media is harmless. If a business like the NBA or NFL with deep pockets and resources has difficulty handling social media debacles imagine the trouble that can be caused at your company. This is why it is very important to have a social media policy in writing.

An effective social media policy should detail;

  • Who is responsible for managing the social media pages of the business
  • When employees can access their own social media
  • If employees can refer to their place of employment (fellow employees, business policies, projects, etc) on their social media pages
  • Penalties for violation of social media policies

Once your policy is in writing it will establish firm guidelines for what is expected of your employees as well as consequences for failure to abide. By creating this policy you will protect yourself against future headaches and decrease the chances of a damaging social media related reputation disaster.

Tweet Tweet

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Twitter is a rapidly-growing social media site that allows people to “tweet” about the current moment and give a quick status update. Limited to 140 characters, tweeters are cut short but still manage to get a message across.

In addition to following their friends on Twitter, many people also follow celebrities, who clue into their personal lives and whereabouts. It seems like almost every famous person has a personal Twitter account, from President Obama to Oprah. Recently, Lindsay Lohan tweeted to her fans about a stalker. Not only did she describe the situation, but she also posted a picture of him! Additionally, exes Chris Brown and Rihanna just started following one another on Twitter, which upset many of Rihanna’s fans. Charlie Sheen created havoc when he signed up for Twitter and posted crazy tweets, though he did reach one million followers in just 24 hours.

Twitter is not just for celebrities and fans, though. Many big companies utilize Twitter as a means of advertising and aspire that their company or product becomes a Trending Topic. Businesses can also have a promoted Trending Topic, in which they pay to be featured on the right sidebar of the website’s homepage. Clicking on a Trending Topic reveals what people are tweeting about the topic. This is a huge deal for the advertising world, because people can get instant opinions about a company or product. The value of Twitter messaging has been debated as has the reach of its advertising. Also, as we have talked about on here on a number of occasions, it does open up a Pandora’s Box of issues for your company you must be prepared to address. Ranging from security to new hires, Twitter can work as a negative or positive for your company.

Do you have a Twitter success story?

What about a Twitter nightmare?

You Can’t Buy a Reputation

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Evergreen Partners, Inc. is still wondering who is handling BP’s public relations. Between their CEO’s poor word choice during hearings, continued public gaffes and now this.

BP is showing the world that there are endless ways to hurt your reputation with a poorly conceived public relations campaign. BP has not hidden after the oil spill and has been very vocal.  This is not always a good thing. Their voice has come off as misdirected, apathetic and worst of all, fake. Their strategy, whatever it may be, has not worked and has most likely done more harm than good.

Just because BP has the money to spend to attempt to “buy off” the Gulf Coast with shiny new toys, it does not mean they should. People are smarter than that and they understand that BP is trying to buy their good will. Instead of good will,  BP is buying a bad reputation as a result of this.

Everyone knows that BP is a multi-billion dollar corporation and there is no way its executives have ever truly felt the plight of the working man. But at least they can attempt to try. Their repeated gaffes and blunders have hurt their reputation in that area and, to an extent, all over the country. It will be very hard for BP to do business along the Gulf Coast in the future due to a poorly thought out reputation management campaign. In case a BP executive is reading this, Evergreen Partners, Inc.’s phone number is 908-322-1100. Give us a call, you can use the help.

Band-Aid Over the Mouth

Monday, April 11th, 2011

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — A wide-ranging government investigation of corrupt overseas marketing practices by drug and device makers scored its first major victory Friday when Johnson & Johnson admitted bribing European doctors and agreed to pay $70 million in civil and criminal fines.

Extended coverage of this story can be found here.

Johnson and Johnson has learned two very important lessons from this debacle.

1. Watch what you say

As one corporate email said in regards to stopping their practice of bribery in Greece, “we’d lose 95% of our business by the end of the year.”

It does not matter if it is a public spokesperson or a short email chain between employees. In today’s digital age, words and images can escape their private confines very easily. If you do not it to be public knowledge, it is a good idea to watch what you say. You never know what could become public at the drop of the hat. Johnson and Johnson has added fuel to the fire with that one email and now they increasingly look like a greedy, unethical corporation.

2. Cultural Relevance

Cultural relevance is a topic that has plagued international business owners since companies began operating overseas. By cultural relevance we mean, following the cultural norms and social structures of a country or society when operating a business within it.

Johnson and Johnson is realizing that following a cultural norm, in this case bribery, can have reputation effects back home.  Although it may be accepted in Greece, this practice is frowned upon in the United States. With this in mind it is important to realize that Americans still see this as a bribe and it can still have very negative reputation effects. Just because you may “need” to do it abroad it does not mean that the American public will be very sympathetic. Always be thinking about the possible reputation effects when these dealings hit the front pages back home. If you fail to be proactive, you will have to answer questions.

Questions will inevitably pop up  as a result of Johnson and Johnson’s business practices and will need to be answered such as;

If they are bribing foreign officials and doctors, what are they doing in the US to drive business?

How legitimate are their products then? Are they safe?

Why should we trust Johnson and Johnson?

These questions  have the potential to be reputation killers if not handled correctly. It will be very important for J & J to show more discretion with their words than company emails would lead us to believe is the common practice. We think that J & J will handle this correctly because they have the money and the influence to sweep it under the rug. But as a small business owner without the capital of J & J, it is important to always think about the far reaching consequences of a decision to accept the cultural norms or practices of another country. If you choose to do so, it is equally important to be able to back up that decision if it proves unpopular.