Over the past few weeks, I've attended a few media events who in their preamble, have recognised social media's presence - the fact that people will be checking in, tweeting or instagraming while in attendance. These events were also progressive enough to think of providing social media-savvy guests with the necessary tools (hashtags, handles) in order to generate a parallel online conversation to the offline event.
While it's great to see social media integration recognised for its effectiveness (or at least presence), there is no point doing it if you're doing it badly. Here are a few things I have noticed, Sydney.
Most people still don't know the difference between a Twitter 'handle' and a 'hashtag'. It's really very simple: A 'handle' is another word for 'username'. It's the name by which you are represented and referenced in the Twittersphere. A 'hashtag' is any word or series of words(withnospaces) prefaced by the '#' symbol. The '#' categorises or marks for reference a topic of conversation, like #FoodFilms, or #ShitMyDadSays.
Further to this, there is no point:
- Creating a handle that is so long or complicated that nobody will remember it. How can anyone remember @ConfXbitArtSumm2011? Clearly the longer Twitter is alive, the greater the likelihood your first preference will already be taken, but if you have trouble coming up with something memorable, hire a digital copywriter to come up with some options for you. Or ask for feedback from people outside of your ConfXbitArtSumm2011 for their opinion on whether they'd remember it.
- Using a hashtag that is too general. For example, #food. You might as well use #forgettable or worse, #untraceable: It's not specific enough to actually register any definable interest or conversation in a space where millions of people will be using that same hashtag to reference or describe a billion other things. Where public events are concerned, if you're looking for effective (and traceable) conversation, pick something simple, but specific. The likelihood of someone using #SydArtSummit (instead of #art, for example) for anything other than a Sydney Art Summit is unlikely. And while you can't own a hashtag, the likelihood of other people using it is slim.
Social media is dynamic, conversational and fun. But if you want to take it beyond those things and actually make it effective, relevant and traceable, simple tips like these will at least steer you in the right direction.