Is It Ethical To Hijack #ThingsIWishWereQuikr?

by Vinaya Naidu on October 5, 2021

in Insights

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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?

Vinaya Naidu

Co-Founder and Blogger at Lighthouse Insights. A student of life, art and building relationships. Love to read just about anything and strongly believe that books make a beautiful world.

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  • http://twitter.com/Dips_88 Deepika

    Hey nice post Vinaya. But sometimes, it is not just about creating content. Sometimes, it makes sense to use the existing content to the optimum. I remember of one other such hashtag- WhenIwas18 or something which was actually for a book launch by Chetan Bhagat. However, the hashtag was so popular that the entire twitteratti individuals and not just brands started to use it.

    It can be pretty good for brands as the recall quotient goes up drastically. Hashtags which are popular and used by wider audience is more likely to be remembered. See, how many hastags we could remember and trace them to the original brands?

  • http://tech-buzz.net/ Thilak Rao

    Hashtags are not owned by the brand, and hence it’s fairly ethical for any other brand to contribute in that hashtag!

    • http://twitter.com/oldfox004 Vinaya Naidu

      That is true for generic hashtags and yes they can be used by any brand but this #ThingsIWishWereQuikr isn’t a generic one!

  • Swapna Sanand

    Hey Vinaya,

    I just want to add some thoughts here.

    Back then when Twitter began, there were no rules of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ because the whole medium revolved around expressing one self. But the sense of enjoyment that began to seep into the activity began to define how tweeps began to change and contribute to how the medium called Twitter began to evolve.

    With more and more people hopping on to the Twitter bandawagon, it was a matter of necessity for brands to tune in to the potential opportunities in a contextual way. As you mentioned, the need for industry ethics is the next immediate necessity for brands leveraging Twitter.

    But just to play up this discussion like a Devil’s Advocate, the thing is that ground rules were are typically blurred on Twitter and probably subject to fragmented and fleeting instances of change. It may have to do with the changing nature, preferences and behavior of the users and consumers populating Twitter as a brand.

    Regarding the hashtag usage, the practice is so popular and probably opens up creative realms for even the most creatively challenged tweep out there. So much so that tweeps enjoy trying to ‘crack the hashtag’ by treating it more like a crossword or a sudoku or a jigsaw puzzle than as an attempt to hijack hashtags.

    But when brands are doing the hashtag ‘cracking,’ they are probably manipulating this contagion to their advantage and in the long term, that’s not going to be a game changer for them.

    My attention was also drawn to the questions you raised at the end of the post.
    1. Whatever happened to brand image, communication and connect? 2. Does visibility weigh more than these?

    Those who manage brands have to come together, present a clear analysis and reach an industry wide consensus on these two issues or at least consider formulating a plan to put into place to begin with.

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