If you want to see the concept of “reverse psychology” in action but don’t know where to find it,  just check whatever hashtags are trending on Twitter today, and look for the ones that say “promoted.” 

When corporate marketing departments spend time and money promoting a hashtag for an advertising campaign, it’s usually successful—in the sense that the hashtag does indeed trend, as Twitterers throughout the world post little messages about it.

But it’s also a failure. The majority of those messages express the exact opposite of whatever concept the marketing folks are trying to promote.

It happened to Disney and Pixar earlier this month, when they promoted the hashtag #PeopleLikeUs to advertise their latest wholesome, heartwarming, family-friendly movie, and legions of mean-spirited misanthropes came forth to share extremely un-Disneyfied commentary. It happened to McDonald’s, too, when their promoted hashtag #McDStories inspired hundreds of unflattering stories containing words like “obese” or “diabetes”.

Now A&E has the become the latest network to fall victim to the self-promotional Twitter trap, when it sought publicity for the upcoming season of its reality show “Monster In-Laws” earlier today.

Jokes to the tune of “my in-laws are horrible people” are as old as marriage itself. And complaining is a popular pastime in the Twitterverse. So you figure the promotional hashtag #MonsterInLaws would be foolproof, right?

Nope. Turns out the Twitterati’s contrarian streak is even stronger than its love of complaining.