We’ve warned marketers to be careful with this, as it’s become all too common to see these hashtag campaigns hijacked and used as ways to berate the company. Apparently, we should have been warning media companies as well.
The latest to have a hashtag campaign go awry is Sports Illustrated. On its most recent cover, the venerable weekly features New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin. The Harvard graduate has been putting up impressive numbers in his rookie season and, because of his Asian ethnicity, has drawn interest beyond the court. The cover includes the hashtag #SILINSANITY. “SI” is the magazine’s nickname, and “Linsanity” is its way of encouraging conversation around the Lin Hype Machine.
For sports fans, the SI cover is hallowed ground, and introducing a hashtag there is downright blasphemy.
The magazine has been hearing from Twitter users. (For instance, “#SILINSANITY is awful awful awful.“) Instead of conversation around Lin, it’s become conversation about the “stupid hashtag.” Sports’ snark enthusiasts have been having a blast with it, including the Gawker-owned blog Deadspin, which imagines the long-lost hashtags of several classic SI covers through years. Here’s a taste: