I heard a great story on On the Media this morning (in the podcast from last weekend) where Intelwire.com editor J.M. Berger talked about a hashtag-jacking strategy that ISIS is using in their insurrection against the Iraqi government. They are exploiting the popularity of the World Cup, and the hashtag #worldcup to market their message.
But they are not just doing the basic “ISIS just took over Erbil #worldcup” like an amateur would. They are a little more social media clever than that. If you got the tweet “ISIS 5 Erbil 0 #worldcup” it would make you stop and think for a second. “What Group is Erbil in? Oh, wait a minute! I just got hashtag jacked !!”
Of course, you may not feel any better about a vicious terrorist group just because they have a clever social media strategy. But if their intention is simply awareness that they are winning, this is a solid way to do that. It engages just enough attention to get remembered.
Updated June 25: I forgot to mention that Twitter took down the account because this violates their terms of service. But when you have 10s of thousands of members in your organization, it is pretty easy to set another one up. Hashtags are a lot easier to jack than usernames for this reason.