For all that hashtags give brands, they can also take much more away.
"You need to be cognizant that hashtags dont belong to you," says Volpe. "A lot of brands think the things they create belong to them. They belong to no one, so they can easily be hijacked. The community can ... take it in a direction that you might not want to go."
For example, when the New York Police Department asked Twitter users to share photos with officers and tag them #MyNYPD, many posted photos depicting acts of alleged police brutality. The NYPD quickly shut down the campaign.
Applied appropriately, hashtags are a useful tool, but theyre definitely not the be-all and end-all, Volpe says. "You can be very successful in social using no hashtags - and even if you are successful in social with hashtags, you probably use them very sparingly for the right purpose."
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