One of the central features of Twitter is its ability to detect trends through #hashtags. Once the preserve of protesters and campaigners, hashtags were seen as an opportunity to join the global conversation that communications professionals couldn’t resist.
This eagerness was responsible for some very public examples of what not to do as companies’ attempts to seize the initiative resulted in embarrassing own goals. In one notable case in 2009 tags used by Iranian pro-democracy campaigners were ‘piggy-backed’ by the furniture store Habitat to promote a sales promotion. This serious breach of hashtag etiquette resulted in widespread condemnation and served as a valuable warning of the pitfalls that issue-hijacking can present.