#geloandthehashtag: a sequel

31 Jul


Today, the sacred words were spoken – help an NGO by means of a viral video.

Like. Like. Like.

Those words kept resonating in my head as my social media class professor disclosed our next mission. I definitely could see myself doing that in the future, from graduation to retirement even. It’s one of those delightful things I sincerely want to be an advocate for – technology and goodwill in sync. Lovely.

And no, this blog post wouldn’t be about how social media tools (i.e. the Like button) influence intrapersonal communication processes a.k.a. those silly moments we talk to ourselves voicing Facebook buttons while the professor is discussing in class. Obviously, I’m more concerned with how these tools can help non-profits. Not that I detest acad speak, but I’d rather stockpile those for my thesis.

So here it goes. The follow-up in the Gel-O typology of ways we can connect the online to the offline. The sequel to Gel-O 1.

In 5… 4… 3… 2…

Gel-O 2: Tag Online, Help Offline

Helping NGOs (non-government organizations) is not limited to making viral videos when viewed in the context of social media. There are a lot of online tools we can bring into play to craft a successful campaign – fan pages, applications, games, blogs, etc. But one that stood out recently is the hashtag.

A hashtag is similar to other web tags- it helps add tweets to a category. Hashtags have the ‘hash’ or ‘pound’ symbol (#) preceding the tag, like so: #traffic, #followfriday, #hashtag. Hashtags can occur anywhere in the tweet: some people just add a # before a word they’re using, like so:

Twitter___Lisa_Shea__Got_bored_listening_to_tra_....jpg

How, then, can we use hashtags to our benefit? Let’s learn again from experience, alright?

Everywhere, a social media communications company, raised thousands of dollars through a hashtag. How did they do it? Here’s how.

Everywhere came up with a social media experiment using the hashtag #BeatCancer.

…Don Lemon and I were talking about how the power of social media should be used for more than just marketing products. If Ashton Kutcher could get a million followers, couldn’t we take on a social cause through social media? My business partners who’ve watched as I’ve struggled with cancer suggested we try to beat cancer through social media. Thus #BeatCancer was born.

A penny will be given to non-profit cancer organizations everytime the phrase #BeatCancer is included in people’s tweets, blogs, and Facebook updates. The online community was given only 24 hours to make the project successful.

Amazingly, by the end of the 24th hour, #BeatCancer was mentioned 681629 times. Yes, almost 700 thousand times.

Thanks to all of you who have tweeted, put up Facebook Posts & mentioned #BeatCancer in your blogs. In the end, you helped raise more than a penny per tweet. In all, these four cancer organizations have earned over $70,000.

See, tags can be viral too. The #BeatCancer campaign is successful in setting a new Guiness World Record of being the most widespread social media message in 24 hours. It raised thousands of dollars one penny at a time, one tweet at a time. Now that’s powerful.

Even though the fundraiser is already closed, #BeatCancer still gains mentions. Amazing indeed!

So if you’re thinking of using hashtags for an advocacy or an event you want to promote, here are some of the basic things you should do before hitting Shift + 3:

1. Think about the word you’ll be using in your tag. The shorter, the better. People won’t use your tag if it eats up a quarter of their 140-character limit, no matter how noble your cause might be. Choose a word that’s not hard to remember and easy to spell. More importantly, choose a word that’s related to your advocacy.

2. Use your tag. Of course, why bother making a hashtag if you have no plans of using it? Promote your tag in other social networking sites and your other online accounts so people would start using it too.

3. Be consistent. Use hashtags for tweets that are related to your advocacy and the tag itself. Never put them alongside stuff that do not, in any way, help people know more about your event or advocacy. That’s spamming, my friends.

4. Locate hashtags that are related to yours. This will help you in tapping people that might be interested in your advocacy. Use these related hashtags whenever possible and engage in conversations. This will provide a human aspect to the meta-data. There are online tools like What The Trend that are very useful in this step.

5. Monitor your hashtag.Your hashtag endeavors will be useless without this last step. Know who are using your tag, when they use your tag, and how people use it. This will help you strategize and address the concerns of the tweeting community. You can use good ‘ol Twitter Search or third-party dashboards, like TweetGrid, to satisfy this need.

Good luck on your hashtag journey! May you find advocates and volunteers along the way. Kudos to social media advocacies!

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2 Responses to “#geloandthehashtag: a sequel”

  1. morethanscribbles September 20, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    I LOVE HASHTAGS! haha :p to be honest, i like them because i think they look cool. It’s like your tweet has become really nicer if they have hashtags :))

    But seriously, it is amazing that people all over the world connect through hashtags for whatever topics. What’s really noticeable is that Filipinos seem to have a huge control over hashtags and trending topics! One time i read a tweet begging Filipinos to stop tweeting about “majormajor” and start using hashtags for Pakistan’s condition 😦 It’s just sad that a lot of people don’t know how to use these taken for granted things to a more valuable cause just like yours 😥

  2. blahblahblogsheet October 1, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    Hashtags were really helpful during the viral vid days! It lets you connect freely to people who has the same agenda as you even though you are not really connected. I believe that it’s one of the collaboration tools being utilized in social networking sites, particularly twitter.

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