In September 2014, thousands of women took to Twitter to talk about why they stayed in violent relationships, using the hashtag #WhyIStayed. DiGiorno Pizza hijacked the trending tag with this tweet: "#WhyIStayed You had pizza."
"The fallout was significant, making national news and being featured on industry sites as a prime example of what not to do," says Mallory Oliver, marketing manager, SEER Interactive.
Following the blow-up, DiGiorno Pizza tweeted "a million apologies," explaining that the company "did not read what the hashtag was about before posting." The misfire illustrates why brands should understand the context behind a trending hashtag before trying to "piggyback" on it, according to Jarone Ashkenazi, account manager, PMBC Group. "Although social media is instantaneous, you must understand the conversation you're participating in."