Last Week the NYPD got hijacked...

Posted on: 6th May 2014 by: Dokoo

Social media marketers and editors have to be super careful when it comes to strengthening a campaign with a hashtag. While it could carry your message internationally, as we seen with #KONY2012, it can also backfire, horrifically. Last week it was the NYPD’s turn.

New York’s Police service were keen, like most organisations, to turn Twitter into a tool for good. In positive community spirit they posted this on their newsfeed:

Brandishing the hashtag #myNYPD, the social media team encouraged the public to get friendly with officers and support their police service. Unfortunately, some citizens were less keen to polish the badge and reputation than had been hoped, instead using it as a vehicle to attack or question the NYPD’s integrity. Within 24 hours it had become one of Twitter’s top trending terms.

Without doubt the NYPD’s social media editor learned a valuable marketing lesson, the hard way. In no way are they the first and we doubt that they’ll be the last. McDonald’s have had particularly bad luck navigating the Twittersphere, check out two of their hashtag hijacks that turned sour:

#McDStories In 2012 McDonald’s hoped to engage with customers by introducing the hashtag as a way for fast-food lovers to share their experiences. The ill thought out tag didn’t quite perform as planned…

#cheerstoSochi Hashtag Hijacking can be used for good. During the Winter Olympics in Russia, McDonald’s launched a tag that celebrated the athletes and send them good luck. LGBT groups within Russia, however, had different plans. Hijacking the social media campaign, activist groups brought attention to new Russian laws and police actions against the LGBT community. Up to 90% of Twitter conversation on #CheersToSochi was actually related to the protest of McDonald’s sponsorship.


Dokoo is an agency that specialises in digital marketing in Northern Ireland. Our award-winning services have helped many businesses optimise their marketing in Belfast. We also manage social media campaigns, get in touch today and learn more.

Tags: NYPD Twitter hijack, hashtag hijack, social media in northern ireland, social media marketing, twitter training, twitter advertising,