If you’ve ever considered making use of the Twitter hashtag as part of a social media campaign then you’d wise to consider the dangers of hashtag hijacking before putting your company reputation at the mercy of a cynical online community.

Sometimes it can almost seem that for every successful hashtag marketing endeavour there is another one that ends up going pear shaped in spectacular style.

Take, for example, the case of high-end supermarket Waitrose, which has just suffered a similar fate to the likes of McDonald’s and Starbucks by instantly becoming an online laughing stock following the launch of its recent ‘I shop at Waitrose because___’ campaign.

The supermarket was no doubt anticipating a broadly positive response to its call on shoppers to post their reasons for shopping at the upmarket retail chain.

But instead of the expected complimentary remarks about the quality of its products and its fundraising efforts for local charities, to its horror Waitrose found itself on the receiving end of a barrage of digs at the supermarket’s posh toff southern 4×4-driving image.

Pick of the bunch has to be the Tweet ‘I shop at Waitrose so people know that I’m filthy rich and therefore better than they are’.

On a similar line, a sarcastic Tweeter added ‘I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being surrounded by poor people’, while another commented that they shopped at the store because their ‘swan burgers were good enough for the Queen’.

But in the face of somewhat significant embarrassment, you also have to say that the PR red faces at Waitrose reacted brilliantly by publicly welcoming the online antics of its customers and saying that it enjoyed reading most of their Tweets.

And some may even claim that Waitrose has actually come up smelling of roses this time, as you cannot argue that the botched campaign has at the very least reinforced the brand’s image as the discerning shopper’s choice of grocery store chain.