When Twitter Hashtag Promotion Marketing Goes Bad #HeresTheBeef

I see a lot of these hashtag promotions on Twitter these days where some company or person paid to promote their specific hashtag.

Today I saw that Wendy’s was promoting their #HerestheBeef hashtag. Now I remember these commercials from growing up. If you were living in the 80’s, then you most likely remember that cute little old lady, Clara crying out “Where’s the Beef?”

I loved those commercials so I naturally wanted to see what the Tweets were about. Although I had a sneaking suspicion (as I channeled my inner Steve Carrell from the Office) of exactly what I would find, imagine my surprise when I see that it has actually turned into to so much more:

Some of these made me laugh out loud. Others made me think that people can make an issue out of anything. But they all made me think that perhaps Wendy’s didn’t do their homework before jumping into this hashtag promotion thing (#MeatlessMonday anyone?). And others just made me wonder why promote a hashtag, anyway?

The new promotion that Wendy’s has going on is a perfect compliment to those 80’s commercials. They are answering the question that they asked all of those years ago.

But what is the point of promoting this hashtag especially when something like this happens or is even destined to happen? How could they have not known or predicted? Is there value for a company? In my view, it actually looks like this promotion is hurting Wendy’s today.

I love seeing when hashtags trend. Often times the topics are relevant and interesting. But mostly, they are organic. Many times they are hilarious (RuthBourdain) or promote a good cause or some form of entertainment. The hashtags trend because they were used over and over in Tweets. They are not paid / promoted hashtags.

Perhaps @Petabites said it best:

There are always going to be haters or people vehemently opposed to everything that you are about, especially when it comes to fast food. It can’t sit well with Wendy’s that they just paid for the pleasure of being mocked.

Looks like Wendy’s might have an actual beef with this Twitter promotion. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

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Stacie Haight Connerty, a social media consultant, is the Editor's Pick for Most Influential Southern Blogger from Circle of Mom's one of Cision Media's Top 10 Most Influential Mommy Bloggers and one of the HERoic: 10 Mommy Bloggers Who Rule Social Media.

Stacie is the Travel Expert for Vacation Rentals and Shares and a contributor to iBlog Magazine. Stacie founded Social Media Chicks, a collaborative social media consulting company and Georgia Social Media Moms, a group of 350+ social media/blogging experts in her home state.

An Atlanta resident and lifelong writer, Stacie is the mother of three children (12 & under), leader of two Girl Scout troops, an active PTA member and married to the love of her life. She is always planning the next epic travel adventure for her family.


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  1. October 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm — Reply

    Very well said Stacie. It amazes me how people can turn just about anything into a negative and unsavory situation. (“homo” remark.. unacceptable IMO). I imagine Wendy’s is kicking themselves in the butt a little bit over this but I really believe that as with most sticky situations, this will die down, and will not have as much of an impact on them as some may think. Great article! 🙂

  2. October 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm — Reply

    This made me laugh. My husband actually asked me yesterday what it mean when someone used a hashtag. I explained and he listened carefully, so maybe there’s hope for him yet 🙂

  3. October 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm — Reply

    Times have changed so much … some things that were funny or relevant in the 1980’s have obviously become twisted over time.

  4. Ann at Mundane Magic
    October 3, 2011 at 10:14 pm — Reply

    Reallly, we tend to forget that we are still in the infant stages of online marketing…and not doing your homework is a problem. I’ve noticed television shows doing this also. No one really owns a hashtag.

    Excellent, excellent post.

  5. October 4, 2011 at 12:22 am — Reply

    haha you did find some good ones!

  6. Teri
    October 4, 2011 at 8:23 am — Reply

    The hashtag selection from Wendy’s was poor. They have to imagine the good with the bad before starting a promo such as this. Though I am sure they have someone weeding through all of this mess; it is taking up needless time doing so that could have been prevented.

  7. ellen
    October 4, 2011 at 8:45 pm — Reply

    Someone in their marketing department HAD to know this was going to happen with that hashtag . Using #heresthebeef is almost as bad as them spelling burger wrong and tweeting something about boogers.
    This would make for a good “Oh Really” sketch on Saturday Night Live #justsaying 🙂

  8. October 4, 2011 at 9:58 pm — Reply

    I love seeing when hashtags trend. Often times the topics are relevant and interesting. But mostly, they are organic.

    THIS. THIS THIS THIS. So many companies are so ham-handed when it comes to social media. You can’t market your way into being a meme or trend. There are ways to do effective marketing on Twitter, but I think this sort of thing is just destined to backfire.

    I don’t know if you watch much TV (I do, ha), but Wendy’s also has ads where a “real customer” asks a question (I think via Twitter?) and then Wendy’s answers it in some wacky way. Those bug too. If you’re making TV commercials to prove how hip you are to social media, you really know nothing about social media.

  9. October 5, 2011 at 1:19 am — Reply

    Oh, boy, did that one ever go wrong!

  10. October 5, 2011 at 1:55 am — Reply

    Great post! 🙂

  11. July 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm — Reply

    This is one of the problems I’ve seen with Twitter. I’ve seen some hashtags get hijacked by haters. This is one of those campaigns that may have been better served on Facebook, where the conversation can be somewhat steered in the right direction.