The other day when I wrote about social media marketing being about conversation, I was saying how social sites like Twitter work best when used for general conversation than for sales. I followed a conversation on Twitter yesterday during an event that I thought demonstrates this well, so I’m going to share it with you.
The event was the Social Housing Exhibition in Birmingham, run by the National Housing Federation, who announced that they would be using the hashtag #nhfannual12 to collate tweets about the event.
A quick interjection for anyone who doesn’t know about hashtags – a hashtag is a word preceded by a hash symbol (#) on Twitter to create a link for that word. Clicking on the hashtag triggers a search that displays all tweets from anyone who uses the same hashtag. It’s a great way to see content from people you are not following.
As the opening day of the Social Media Exhibition kicked off, the initial Twitter discussions were dominated by a few tweeters asking why the hashtag was so long, and that they preferred the shorter #nhf12.
Not the first to tweet about it, @HannahFearn complained that it was too long. Twitter only allows 140 characters, after all. Others including @CalumMercer and @Dylan_Voluntas had fun running a campaign to try to persuade @Natfednews to change the hashtag.
I shared this because it was a bit of fun, but it shows how conversations can be created out of the most unexpected things. About 30 or 40 tweets were just talking about the length of the official hashtag and the campaign to get it changed. That drove conversation around the event at a time when no news had yet been generated from it.
This is obviously a lesson about choosing short hashtags, but it’s also a lesson about how Twitter offers many opportunities to chat about anything to people who work in your industry.