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Cape Town brands look to profit off hashtags #CapeStorm and #KnysnaFire

With every tragedy comes an outpouring of love and support from social media. Thoughts, prayers and tangible help are all offered to those in need. But with the good comes the bad too, and businesses and social media opportunists often look to cash in on destruction with profit and likes.

These users take a hashtag, which others can view for information on events or for calls to action, and use it for their own personal gain, disregarding lives lost or homes destroyed.

Take, for instance, this Instagram post using the topical #CapeStorm.

The online phone case store used the hashtag to pull in customers, knowing full well that those viewing it were not looking to purchase original designs for their iPhones.

But Hey Casey wasn’t the only one to use the questionable marketing tactic: Real + Simple Denim, Ramble Bag, Milamu (which used #KnysnaFire as well) and Tan Leather Goods all posted to the hashtag for the purpose of selling a product.

And, like always, it’s not only brands looking to get in on the action: There have been a multitude of unrelated selfies posted to it as well.

The use of the hashtag, especially by local brands, is disappointing.

#CapeStorm and #KnysnaFire aren’t tags like #fitgirl that can be used to rack up likes and followers. South Africans have been using them to keep up with tragedies that have stolen lives and homes — and to use that intrigue for information as a way to sell a product that barely relates to the storm is sketchy at best.

#CapeStorm and #KnysnaFire aren’t tags like #fitgirl that can be used to rack up likes and followers

While there is no formal rule that says how and when a hashtag should be used, it does feel like there is an unspoken rule for decency in the wake of tragedy.

So if you’re deliberating on which hashtags to use to promote your latest product or selfie, maybe consider avoiding the ones people will be using to inform themselves on breaking news and horrible events.

And if you really must post a picture of yourself, it’s best to make sure it relates: like Dean Petersen’s post in the wake of the storm.

Author | Julia Breakey

Julia Breakey
Julia is a UCT film graduate with a passion for dogs, media, and dog-centric media. If she's not gushing about the new television show that you need to watch, she's rewatching The Good Place (which you need to watch). More
  • Martin Janse Van Rensburg

    Very late to the party here, but nobody seems to talk about the fact that the actual brand Cape Storm did not try to capitalise off this. They deserve massive kudos for their clear sense of humanity and respect for the suffering of others.

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