Is It Ethical To Hijack #ThingsIWishWereQuikr?

A look at a rather disturbing trend on Twitter - brands hijacking other brand-owned trending topics and why this is not a good thing

Twitter hashtags

A look at a rather disturbing trend on Twitter – brands hijacking other brand-owned trending topics and why this is not a good thing.

Yesterday, the Twitterverse was abuzz with #ThingsIWishWereQuikr. Now Quikr, as we all know is the Indian version of Craigslist, a free classifieds website where one can buy, sell, rent or find anything in categories likes cars, jobs, used goods, electronics or pets. With Quikr being a play on ‘quicker’, the brand has been weighing upon that in all its messages – do everything quicker.

From the ‘Quik India Movement’ on Facebook to the ‘#ThingsIWishWereQuikr’ on Twitter that trended yesterday, the concept caught on with the common twitteraties. The rage started with a tweet from Quikr emphasizing that slow is boring and urged twitteraties to tweet about things that needed to be quicker.

The brand started a revolution on Twitter which was trending at the top even today. I saw this trend in the evening yesterday and was instantly connected with the message like the scores of others. Besides there was the promise of exciting gift hampers to be won too.

I dived a little deeper to discover that Quikr had worked really hard to keep up the momentum of the tweets. With continuous updates and encouragement on the contest, the brand also ensured to connect with influencers and leveraged upon their massive follower list. The hashtag ‘#ThingsIWishWereQuikr’ sure had all the ingredients required to trend – a commonly relatable issue which is bound to be ranted about on a platform like Twitter, influencers participating and the brand pushing it further.

But then I noticed something disturbing. Comedy Store, a reputed comedy club with its wacky set of stand up comedians, tried to milk in the hashtag with this tweet: 

Comedy_store_india_tweets

And now Just Eat India joins the party along with NDTV Cooks. Just Eat India claims to be India’s no.1 online food ordering and table booking platform and NDTV Cooks is a review site of Indian and global recipes and restaurants. 

Just_Eat_India_tweets

NDTV_Cooks_tweets

There could be many more in the list of brands basking in the glory of ‘#ThingsIWishWereQuikr’, but I called it a day. The issue here is brands hijacking trending topics created by another brand and that I find hard to digest. This is a common phenomenon observed on Twitter but only for generic hashtags and not the branded ones. #ThingsIWishWereQuikr is clearly owned by Quikr and other brands should have steered clear.

Twitter buzz is about creating your own brand identity and that opportunity is lost upon you when you try to cash in on trends owned by others. Recently, we had a similar controversy raised with #YouAreABikerIf. The said hashtag was started by a bike oil brand as part of a contest and when it started trending, another brand jumped in to push its own contest with ‘#YouAreABikerIf’. However, the accusations were put to rest since no brand can claim a generic hashtag like ‘#YouAreABikerIf’ to be owned by them. But the takeaway for all parties involved was that brands should not replicate properties or hijack hashtags on Twitter.

Now this philosophy is clearly elusive in #ThingsIWishWereQuikr. What value does it add to Comedy Store, Just Eat India and NDTV Cooks other than gaining some visibility? Whatever happened to brand image, communication and connect? Does visibility weigh more than these?

I believe it’s about time brands devote some time to their Twitter communication. The need to develop industry ethics has grown even further now with the battles being fought on the social media space. What are your thoughts on this?