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My Embarrassing Hashtag Fail

I’m in the thick of our most successful promotion ever. And yet, something incredibly embarrassing happens, not once, not twice, but three times in front of thousands of people. My team could not believe what just came out of my mouth, and I’m going to share with you the entire story in this episode.

Big Ideas

My TRIBE Experience Hashtag Fail [2:03]

We had our TRIBE Experience launch and promotion recently, and while it went phenomenally well, something embarrassing happened right in the thick of this promotion. It all started the very first night. We did four separate live trainings that were all part of the buildup for our promotion for the TRIBE Experience. During these trainings, I was teaching my heart out. And so, one of the things I said during that was, “If you are with me live right now, I want you to take a picture of yourself and share it with me on Instagram.” In my mind, I’m thinking how there were 5,000 plus people watching me live, and this is a great experience to share with all these people simultaneously. I’m like, “Take a picture of yourself and share it with me on Instagram. Tag me on it,” and then I said, “And use #TRIBE2020.”

In my mind that made perfect sense, because obviously, our program is called the TRIBE Experience. But apparently, as soon as I said that, my team was like, “Nooooo!” like in one of those slow-mo movie type productions. I didn’t know or hear about this until after the fact. But apparently, when you go and search the #TRIBE2020, it’s used by a Brazilian Festival where you’d see a lot of half-naked women in very teeny-tiny bathing suits and bikinis. That was my first hashtag fail.

The #FML failure [4:46]

Next, during the whole promotion and buildup, I was teaching how to do a Founding Member Launch. And so hundreds and hundreds of people were using this during the actual promotion, they were getting crazy results, and so they started sharing those results in our free Facebook group. Sounds fine, right? That’s exactly what we want people to do. Well, then people started using the #FML, short for Founding Member Launch, and I’m like, “Oh, cool. We’ll use that hashtag.” Until I discovered that this hashtag also has another meaning. Apparently it’s also used as a short form for “bleep my life.”

So, here I am. I’ve used two hashtags that are complete fails. I thought the #TRIBE2020 was perfect. Nope, that’s half-naked Brazilian woman. Then the #FML short-form word for what I thought was Founding Member Launch. No, that’s also a short form for bleep my life. Hashtag fail again.

The Purple Pickle [6:43]

Now, you wouldn’t expect me to screw up a third time, would you? I got another one for you, probably the most embarrassing one. So, again, I’m getting myself fired up and ready to go live. Then I jump on Telegram to leave a message there for people to take action on it. I said, “Hey, if you’re with me live, go into the comments and then leave a code word,” then I would know that those people were hearing me on Telegram. So I thought, what words could I use that would be totally different, and then I said, “If you’re listening to me on Telegram, go into the comments right now on the live webinar and put in the comments purple pickle.”

I’ve used that before, particularly when I’ve been talking about our software platform, Searchie, because I always like to try to give people a code word to search and to be able to come to the moment when I’m talking about that very thing. And, boom, hundreds and hundreds of people are leaving the hashtag purple pickle. And I’m thinking, “Oh, cool. This is awesome.” Then I see my team doing one of those head smacks and saying, “Dude!” Somebody in the comments posted, “Has anybody searched the words ‘purple pickle’ before?” And my team is beside themselves laughing in hysterics, literally tears streaming down their face. Because if you did a search for purple pickle, I don’t quite know how to say this in a family-friendly way, but it’s a female device.

You get the picture, right? Here I go again, totally screwing things up with a code word that is absolutely unintended but terribly inappropriate. From that point forward, my team said to me, “Stu, you are banned from all hashtags and code words. You can’t come up with anything anymore. You need to be told what to do.”

The 3 Lessons I Learned From My Failures [10:08]

So, here are my three quick lessons. Number one, before you use a hashtag, do a simple search. Number two, before you use a hashtag, check with a friend or a team member that knows all the ways in which words can be misconstrued and used inappropriately. And number three, if you do use a hashtag, and it turns out to be a fail, just smile and realize that this will one day make a great story for another time, perhaps on a podcast episode of your own, perhaps from a stage presentation, perhaps just sharing it with a friend.

Memorable Quote

If you do use a hashtag, and it turns out to be a fail, just smile and realize that this will one day make a great story for another time.” – Stu McLaren


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