This is how it goes on Twitter. Somebody tweets a hashtag that other people vehemently disagree with, and those people chime in to talk about how stupid it is, accelerating that hashtag—and its message—up Twitter's trending topics. Today's example? Obamacare.
If you're proud of Obamacare and tired of the other side using it as a dirty word, complete this sentence: #ILikeObamacare because...
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 23, 2012
Barack Obama sent out this tweet (see update below) encouraging his supporters to take back the term Obamacare. One hour later, the #ILikeObamacare hashtag was the number one Twitter trend for the USA, beating out a zillion and a half angsty Hunger Games tweets and, God help me, National Puppy Day. I mean, National Puppy Day!!!
Clearly, 2008 was no fluke and Obama still has Internet chops. But the thing is, that hashtag was largely driven to the top by tweets like this one, from people complaining about
— Nicole Daniel (@ndaniel2) March 23, 2012
It's a simple lesson people. If you don't like the message in a hashtag, don't use it. Otherwise you're just playing into someone else's game. Here's a brief litany of stupid.
UPDATE: That original @BarackObama message was sent out both as an organic tweet that would show up in his followers' timelines and as a Promoted Tweet (see the screenshot below) that could show up in the timelines of people who did not follow him or had not seen the tweet naturally. Basically this is Twitter's version of a paid political ad. (Confusing! But I confirmed with a Twitter spokesperson that this is how the process works.)
So, if you saw the message in your timeline because you follow Obama, or because you follow someone who retweeted him, it would appear normally, as an organic tweet. But, under some circumstances it was paid placement. To make things even more confusing, the trending itself was not promoted; that happened all on its own. But the tweet itself was. Which meant that regardless of why you clicked on the hashtag, the first thing you see when you click is President Obama's tweet, not the vitriol. It's an almost dizzying example of how complex messaging is going to be this season.