Promoted Trend Done Right – #CelebrateMJ

Promoted trends on Twitter are one form of the social network’s advertising offerings. However, time and time again brands test out this social media marketing with failure, generating negative engagements with users and bad PR. An infamous example is when McDonald’s chose to promote the hashtag “#McDStories”. Rather than get customers engaging with the hashtag positively, consumers chose to tell stories about their unhealthy food offering, the stereotypical people who eat there, and rumors about their food practices. It definitely was not something McDonald’s was hoping to do.

Luckily, Pepsi recently did a promoted trend right. They chose to promote the hashtag “#CelebrateMJ”, in reference to the late Michael Jackson. Pepsi used the hashtag to market their Summer Beats livestream on August 29th with artist NeYo. The livestream was to celebrate Michael Jackson’s music and influence on pop culture.

User engagement with the #CelebrateMJ hashtag was extremely positive, praising Michael Jackson for his work and asking all to remember his passing. Many tweets around the #CelebrateMJ hashtag also included information about Pepsi’s Summer Beats livestream, telling users to “CelebrateMJ on August 29th”. The end result was increasing awareness of Pepsi’s Livestream in a positive manner. While there could have been a consumer backlash against Pepsi for using Michael Jackson’s death as a means to promote its Livestream, because Pepsi used the hashtag in his memory, consumers actually embraced the hashtag. This is a great lesson for many brands, some of which have “accidentally” used trends on Twitter to promote themselves, only to find out the trend was about a negative and unfortunate event (one that recently comes to mind is the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, where some brands jumped on the hashtags before apparently checking the news).

What brands need to know about Promoted Trends on Twitter is that these trends are real-time. Consumer engagement can be unexpected. Brands must carefully think through all ways a consumer might engage with the hashtag, and readjust the promoted trend and marketing offer as necessary until a positive match is found. This way, they can avoid being the next #McDStories hashtag.

– Bryan Nagy