A few social media lessons learn’t from the weekend at WOMAD – all blatently obvious I’m afraid to any regular social network user but I thought I’d document them anyway – if only for my own learning!
So here they are in list form – followed by the ‘story’ behind each:-
• Check your hashtag (#) before you use it
• Keep the # short and simple
• Decide which #your going to use, stick to it, encourage others to use it and publicise it
• Re-tweet with care
o and finally
if your using multiple accounts check which account your tweeting from!
If your after a good guide to tweeting mistakes to avoid try media snackers blog here
Check your #
My colleagues at Dartington International Summer School started tweeting about the current festival which is now on. I suggested they should use a# – so #DISS was born – or so we thought! On Saturday I checked in to see how #DISS was getting on. Twitter found me hundreds of messages but not all about the summer school. #DISS was already in use for subject matters which were many miles removed from a wonderful classical music summer school! (heres just one example – we don’t#diss them, we #dissmiss them from @tayxil)
Keep those # short
For a chuckle I started tweeting about the #besttshirtcompetitionatwomad however I quickly leant why #’s should be kept simple and memorable. For a start when you only have 140 characters a long # further reduces the length of your message. It also increases the chance of getting the # wrong or the # being unmemorable. During the festival I must have sent 3 or 4 different versions of the # (in instead of at, dropping the t in t- shirt, putting a the at the start etc).
All of which means when you do a trend search you don’t get the full picture – nor do you make it easy for others to use the #. Not really a problem when your having fun – but much more of an issue if you want to collect messages, updates, useage figures etc
Decide what your # is
Both #shifthappens and #womad / #womadatcharltonpark did this well (though I’d argue that the 2nd Womad # fell foul a little of lesson 2! Keep it short. I didn’t use #womadatcharltonpark because I couldn’t remember if the ‘at’ was there or not so I defaulted to #womad. #womadcp though might have worked – and helped to differentiate general messages about womad from messages about the UK2010 festival.)
Back to decide your #. WOMAD had signs everywhere announcing the #’s and mentioned it in the programme. The organisers used it to get important messages out to festival goers – they will also be able to use it to trap some really great (and unsolicited) feedback. As a punter you could easily search to find out what others were saying, what was hot, what was not – and where the best catering stalls were!
An example where it didn’t work so well was the recent (excellent) Milton Keynes International Festival. Here festival organisers themselves were using changing #tags – so as a punter it was unclear which to use. For IF itself it will now be harder to collate responses and analyse iimpact.
And the impact of a successful # can be quite considerable. The #shifthappens (an arts digital conference – see previous posts) started UK trending on twittter. According to Summarizr there were 4305 tweets marked with the #shifthappens hash tag from 777 tweeters – leading to one twitterer to ask ‘are people at #shifthappens actually talking to each other or are they just tweeting?’
Retweet with care!
A message which is no different to that internet age old adage ‘think before you send’!
At around 10pm on Saturday night (just before the wonderful Cerys Matthews took to the stage – if your quick you can listen again here!) I received a tweet from a trusted source about the headliner for a new festival in September. I immediately pressed ‘retweet’ (after judiciously – sic – removing the name of an individual) and posted the announcement to my twitter and facebook pages. Then my phone died (the G1 battery is not very festival friendly!!!)
The following morning my twitter feed was full of a barrage of (possibly) drunken insults, allegations and counter allegations involving friends, colleagues and a funder. All rather messy!
I’m still thinking through what I learnt from this little escapade. One clear thing is that its getting harder and harder to ‘break news’ officially. Social media thrives on the ‘seconds ago just confirmed ‘.. and unofficial rumours spread by individuals. Keeping big announcements under wraps is getting harder and harder – and possibly even counter productive.
This is clearly a trend that isn’t going to change and its interesting to see how many arts and festival organisations are beginning to go with the flow and either officially or unofficially using social networks to make booking announcements – even before teh box office opens. All of which begins to change the purpose and function of launch events and official programme launches. They clearly still have a place – not least to thank and acknowledge the contribution of significant partners and funders –but there function of unveiling a programme is becoming distinctly obsolete.
More tricky is the question of whether I should have re tweeted it in the first place – particulary as someone who tweets as an individual but with a professional hat on? Given that I immediately texted the festival director a congratulatory message I’d have been wiser to check at the same time whether I could RT or not. Above all its been a reminder to always think before re tweeting (after checking the links work!) and to take extra care when your maybe a little off guard (sun burnt and tipsy at a festival being a prime example!).
As I write this a story is breaking about a young Yorkshire cricketeer loosing his rag rather a lot on twitter (personally) but due to the public nature of twitter finding himself in hotwater with both the press and his employer!
if your using multiple accounts check which account your tweeting from!
On my android phone I use tweet deck to manage my various profiles. Its great to be able to tweet on the move, send pics and catch up. I currently run three different twitter accounts through it and the one down side (that Ive found so far) is that its just a bit too easy to send your message from the wrong account. Now usually its a problem that can easily be remedied – but just sometimes it can prove disasterous.
Now I have no idea whether the National Theatre’s account was hacked (as it later claimed) or whether indeed the twitterati were right in claiming that a NT tweeter had sent a message meaning it to come from a personal account and mistakenly sending it from the organisation account. The resulting tweet though was somewhat embarassing – see it here
AsSamScottWood put it ‘National Theatre… oops, tweeted from the wrong account did you? Hilarious. http://bit.ly/doKmoW and http://bit.ly/bOB0OB’ And later the following morning ‘Somewhere in the NT this morning some one is having to explain to some else who has never been on Twitter a relatively simple thing.many times.’
And a final word on Headstock
Finally if your interested in the festival – its well worth checking out. Headstock takes place just outside Nottingham in September headlined by Ash. You’ll be able to follow the progress of the festival on a fly in the wall documentary (Village SOS) to be screened by BBC 2 in association with the Big Lottery Fund.