In most circles, a hashtag takeover is considered a bad thing. It happens when a group of people decide to “hijack” a hashtag in order to disrupt brand’s marketing efforts, distort a message, criticize the creator of the campaign, or to tell the truth as they see it. This causes the hashtag to trend, but not in the way the creator had hoped.
You might remember when this happened to McDonalds back in 2012. They asked fans to share #McDStories hoping for cute, clever, and shareable tweets they could rebroadcast to the world. To their chagrin, however, they were instead flooded with horror stories and criticism from non-fans:
It was a #McFail of epic proportions.
This year the History Channel took a bit of a gamble, and decided to flip hashtag takeovers on their head. They encouraged fans to “ransack” popular hashtags in true viking fashion.
- First they attacked: #MCM (Man Crush Monday)
- Then they destroyed: #TBT (Throwback Thursday)
- Lastly they took over #Swag & #ReactionGIFs
The call to action was simple: Visit the hashtag raids landing page, choose a clever, funny prewritten post you like, and share it with the world. Fans could also create their own Vikings related content to participate in the raid.
The goal was to get the hashtags to trend AND use them as a platform to promote the season premiere of Vikings. It was a bit of a risk because they were essentially teasing those who use those hashtags for their intended purposes. They got away with it because the images and posts they created were super clever, witty, and perfectly matched the tone, voice, and spirit of the show. Further, they chose very popular hashtags that would be nearly impossible to truly dilute.
While I can’t speak to the volume of tweets or the number of participants, I suspect the reach for this campaign was huge. Plus, as a fan of History’s Vikings, it was really fun to watch fellow fans harmlessly “disrupt” the social media status quo. I love that The History Channel took a risk and inserted themselves into conversations they wouldn’t normally be found in.
Entertainment properties use hashtag campaigns to drive engagement and create a social buzz all the time. These campaigns have become extremely commonplace, so it was nice to see The History Channel spice up the show’s premiere for die-hard fans with a unique twist on an old tactic.