FRIDAY 14 JAN 2011 4:17 PM

CROYDON COUNCIL USES HASHTAG HIJACKING TO UNDERMINE TWITTER JIBES

Many is the time that Twitter users have hijacked a brand’s hashtag to wreak mischief at its expense, but Croydon Council in South London has now used the same tactic to protect its reputation.

This morning, online wags began to promote the hashtag #thatssocroydon, inviting Twitter users to suggest negative things they associated with the town. But within hours, the borough’s press office had spotted the trend and started to use it on their own @yourcroydon tweets.

The council sent messages such as “Volunteers wanted to help plant 2,011 new trees in a #Croydon field by Arena tram stop this weekend #thatssocroydon” and “Make space in your diary for 22-25 Feb for heats & final of Testing 1-2-3 #Croydon new musical talent search @clocktowerarts #thatssocroydon”, which were soon being retweeted by its followers.

Social media watchers were quick to applaud the approach.

Web developer @michaelpjames said: “the hijacking of #thatssocroydon hashtag for positive purposes is great example of #ORM by Croydon groups!” To which Simply Marcomms MD @KirstieColledge replied: “You noticed/pointed out a great example of #ORM by @croydonfeed @yourcroydon - We can all use this example now!”

Even the perpetrators of the initial campaign were converted. @MarkBMJ wrote: “Sorry Croydon, I hope we haven’t offended you. We’re just paying tribute to Bowie #ThatssoCroydon”.

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