Hashtag Gone Hilariously Wrong

I had a great (and exhausting) time at the Internet Technology Summit on Wednesday — I was thrilled to host/emcee the event on behalf of Growing Bolder, especially because it gave me a chance to meet some amazing people like:

I learned a lot about what goes into putting on an event of this size and scope, and overall — it was a success. The speakers had a lot of really great insights on technology today and technology of the future. I was able to spread the story of how one 89-year-old woman became a viral video star (“Romancing the Road“). And people all over the Central Florida area were able to come together to prove that we’re a growing community of smart, ambitious people.

There was just one problem. And I think it’s a lesson we can all learn when it comes to thinking things through.

(Keep in mind that while I had no role in planning this event, I really respect the hard work that went into it!)

The event planners chose the hashtag #ITS2011 for promoting the conference, and had collateral printed up and posted all over the room, encouraging people to share their thoughts. They did — but so did others. Because it turns out, the event actually highjacked a hashtag that was in use.

Look again at #ITS2011 — which in the event’s case, stood for “Internet Technology Summit 2011.” But given so many people’s love for using hashtags as commentary, #ITS2011 also makes sense as “it’s 2011.”

Which led to these tweets mingling in (and even getting posted on a big, live screen):

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/NikkiVicxious/status/109185101971193856″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/imwaytoawesome/status/109148047178608640″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/EmmaRose_xO/status/109072676714319872″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Road_trippers/status/108996313705742336″]

Those are just a few of the examples, and the PG-13 ones at that.

Hugely embarrassing? It could have been, had this been a conference about Twitter, or had the hashtag been more actively used in the event. Hilarious? To me, yes.

Lessons to learn:

  • Always search Twitter to see if your hashtag has been used before
  • Read your hashtag aloud to make sure it doesn’t inadvertently sound or look like something else (double entendres?)
  • Have someone else look at the hashtag, too
  • If you announce a hashtag and find out later that you’re actually highjacking someone else’s use of it, consider changing it — even if it means having to do a bit of mea culpa work

In the spirit of smiling about this example — let’s use the hashtag for its original purpose. Leave me a comment telling me what YOU see that makes you want to tell people: “hey, get with the times … it’s 2011!”

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  1. says

    I love funny hashtags, but obviously in the right place. Like, if I’m tweeting a professional conference, I’m probably going to leave out the sassy, awkward hashtags. But in everyday convo? I think they add some humor to the tweet and kind of give you a bit of personality.

    But obv. not around super duper improtant people.

  2. says

    Ok that is kind of awesome. Definitely a lessons learned for everyone planning a conference or meeting!

    As for my #its2011: Yes, I have a blog…and that shouldn’t be a four letter word. Everyone and their mother has a blog so get with the times.

  3. Amy says

    Just the other day I used a hashtag (#getatit) to tell my friend to get at it but he read it get a tit. That of course made me laugh, and I realized I should probably re-read hashtags to prevent future mishaps

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