Tag Archives: 2.0

Hashtag Hedonism

Along with ‘tweet-up’, ‘@reply’ and ‘DM’, the term ‘hashtag’ has now entered the vernacular of switched-on technophiles and savvy social marketers worldwide.  But since its inception, the concept behind the term has evolved with alarming alacrity, meaning the humble hashtag is now a complicated Social Media construct in its own right.

Here are a few of the current uses – and misuses – that I have encountered over the previous 12 months.

Search Marketing

Effectively, this is the base use for hashtags.  By prefixing a word with a # symbol, Twitter turns this word into a hyperlink, thus allowing users to click this and see all status updates containing the same hashtag.  This has multiple uses, but from a search marketing perspective, increases the potential of your tweet being seen by a wider audience.  If you have 250 followers and tweet something containing ‘discount vouchers’, this may well be seen by 250 people and any followers that they RT it to.  Insert the phrase as #DiscountVouchers and your reach is exponentially increased.

‘Hashtag Bandits’

Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for this rather superb moniker, which was coined by Abi Signorelli following an engaging discussion at Courtenay HR’s latest Connecting HR networking event.  The premise of hashtag bandits is simple: communities that use a certain hashtag to communicate with each other, in this case, #ConnectingHR, have their conversations infiltrated by people loosely connecting themselves with the aforementioned community.

The ‘#ConnectingHR’ community is around 4 months old, yet we are seeing an increasing number of HR bloggers inserting the hashtag into their posts in order to obtain more readership.  Whilst this is a useful way to grow an online community organically, problems can arise when those using the hashtag community are not adding value to members of the group and using the channel purely as a method of one-way promotion rather than two-way conversation.

PR

If you work in Social Media and digital marketing, you’ll no doubt have heard ‘buzz’ cited as one of the latest emerging trends.  With the glut of Social Media now at marketers’ disposal, ‘seeding’ and ‘buzz monitoring’ have become full-time jobs in their own right.

Due to their natural searchability, hashtags have become an excellent PR tool and one that is easy for communications professionals to use effectively – events are an excellent case in point.  I have attended 3 different tradeshows / ‘events’ this year, and each have benefited from significant free publicity through Twitter, the adoption of a hashtag creating credible ‘online buzz’.

These have included the Internet World Show (#IWEXPO), the aforementioned Connecting HR (#ConnectingHR) and most recently, Marketing Week Live (#MWL2010).  Attendees employ these hashtags in their tweets in order to ‘be part’ of the community and get involved – and of course, this is self-fulfilling PR for the organisers of these events.

Promotions

In a similar vein to PR, many global brands are using hashtags to incorporate both PR and marketing activity.  ‘Tweet #XXX to win an XXX’ are becoming very much ‘de rigueur’ and many people are willing to compose a tweet in 15 seconds for a chance to win, say, an iPad.

Again, this generates huge free publicity for the brand in question, with the nominal cost of a prize resulting in thousands upon thousands of tweets pertaining to YOUR brand / business / company / event.

Humour

One of the last key uses of hashtags that I have noticed has been that of humour.  From self-deprecating to witty, hilarious to subtle, many of the people I follow use hashtags as a humorous quip to end a personal tweet.

To illustrate this with a fictitious example: “Not feeling good this morning #wishihadnthadthatlastdrink”.  Now obviously, if one was to search for other people that had constructed the hashtag ‘#wishihadnthadthatlastdrink’, the results would in all likelihood, be none.  The reason for writing a hashtag like this has been transformed from a functional construct to that of an ironic quip.  By the fact that common hashtags have such reach, obscure hashtags are constructed knowingly as a socially humorous construct.

These are, what I consider to be, some of the most prominent uses of hashtags currently in operation in the Social Media space today.  If anyone can think of any more, or has anything to expand upon, please add your comments to this post!

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Marketing & HR – In Bed Together At Last?

Despite the (unfortunately all-too-common) perception amongst my peers that all I do is ‘play around on Twitter and Facebook all day’, my day-to-day role at the Stopgap Group is in fact rather diverse and indeed, unique.

For those of you that are still unsure as to what I actually do (including my other half!), I look after the marketing and Social Media functions for Stopgap, Fitzroy and Courtenay; marketing, executive and HR recruitment firms respectively.  Whilst this variety in brands affords me an enjoyable amount of diversity in my day-to-day role, it has also allowed me to look at both marketing and HR from a holistic viewpoint.

If I look back to when I started in the Marketing department here in late 2007, I wouldn’t be alone in claiming that HR and marketing were separate entities requiring different methods of thinking, marketing and strategy.  Move the clock forward to 2010 however, and Social Media has been a huge catalyst, I believe, in bringing these two functions closer together.

I first gained my first real glimpse of this at the well-received Connecting HR event in March.  I attended the event in a professional capacity representing the marketing function of Courtenay HR, but soon found I had more in common with the HR community than I had previously thought.

Several insightful conversations with various HR practitioners caused something of an epiphany for me.  Listening to these HR professionals discussing the role of Social Media from a human resources perspective, I found that this new medium has blurred the lines between marketing and HR exponentially.

Employees are now much more accountable in terms of ‘employer branding’ than ever before.  Traditionally, it has been marketing departments that have set the agenda for controlled communications.  ‘Digital Democracy’ however, has given all workplace denizens a voice – and thus an opinion that audiences listen to.

Similarly, ‘brand advocates’ within an organisation are being increasingly used to market the company.  In our own organisation, we have several prominent Social Media users whose primary function within the organisation is not marketing.  Nevertheless, their blogs, tweets and LinkedIn interactions have all combined to create an additional Social Media marketing / branding function that has undoubtedly complimented the more ‘established’ marketing efforts coming from my direction.

HR and marketing have so many similarities.  Both aim to engage groups of people.  Both functions wish to market an organisation in the best possible light.  Both look at new ways of communicating and engaging – the list is endless.

Now these similarities are not ‘new’ – these principles have been fundamental to these two disciplines for a long, long time.  However, the way we as humans communicate is shifting dramatically – and this can be ascribed almost wholly to the advent of Social Media.

As long as HR and marketing remain intrinsically about connecting and communicating with people, I have no doubt that Social Media will be the catalyst that draws these functions even closer together – and why not?  Marketing and HR are natural bedfellows and I believe it’s crucial for early adopters of this way of thinking to champion this union and achieve some very big things.

Social Media Revolution – 2

You may remember that I posted a video on the Social Media revolution a few months ago. Well, such is the speed with which SM progresses, Socialnomics, the company that produced that first video, has had to create an updated one.

Even if you’ve watched the first one, this is vital viewing – plenty of new stats that are of considerable interest.

Enjoy.

Connecting HR – The Tweet Smell of Success…

Aside from several lesions to my shoulder courtesy of lugging stands and promo materials halfway across London through rush-hour (thanks @garelaos!), there’s plenty that I took away from last night’s inaugural ‘Connecting HR’ event.

The Square Pig in Holborn played host to a noisy cacophony of HR and social media enthusiasts, all casting avatars aside and emerging in the flesh (they live!) to network and solidify relationships that until now, have been nurtured online. Hats certainly need to be doffed in the direction of Jon Ingham and Gareth Jones, organisers of the event, as well as sponsors Courtenay HR, who put on a terrific evening.

From various conversations, I’m sure that the Twitterverse and Blogosphere will both be saturated with talk from last night, all of which I look forward to reading immensely. But for meantime, here are a few of my thoughts on the event.

First off, I’m not an HR professional, which is somewhat ironic considering the theme of the event! Nevertheless, I attended in a social media / marketing capacity, which is how I support the Courtenay HR brand and wider Stopgap Group and earn my crust. Nevertheless, after three hours chewing the fat (and consuming various imported beers!), I came away from the event with a thousand fresh perspectives and ideas buzzing around in my head. Here are a few of my findings:

i) Social Media is NOTHING without people

Forgive me for stating the bleedin’ obvious, but ‘social’ media really is all about human beings. I am a huge technology geek and make no secret of my love for social media. However, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – every one of these revolutionary platforms is absolutely nothing without people driving it. We love Twitter – which is why we ran ‘Connecting HR’ – but it’s easy to forget that the reason we love it, is because real people are behind it. Social Media is simply the channel – people are the content and the reason to keep engaging with the platforms.

ii) HR and Marketing are intrinsically linked

I started the night (rather foolishly) thinking that marketers and HR professionals are very different creatures, however as the night and various conversations progressed, I realised in a true moment of epiphany, that HR and marketing are natural bedfellows. Marketing is about connecting with people. HR is about connecting with people. Social Media can be employed by either industry to build credible and lasting relationships with people. As Forrest Gump would say, ‘that’s all I have to say about that’.

iii) Marketers and HR functions need to be FOUND

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and although this sounds highly anachronistic, the Romans are all using social media. Employees are people too (yes, it’s true!) and the majority of people now use some form of social media in their daily lives. One of the most effective ways of reaching people is to connect in a way that’s familiar to them. People are comfortable operating within LinkedIn, using Facebook, talking on Twitter, so why take them out of this environment? The advent of social media has meant that we as marketers / HR practioners no longer find people, they find us. Social media is one of the ways you can ensure that your business can – and will – be found by the right people, at the right time.

So as I wrap up (from a personal perspective) last night’s inaugural Connecting HR event, these are simply three key points that really shone out for me. Feel free to agree – feel free to disagree! But if you’re all as talkative as you were last night, I hope you’ll leave some interesting and insightful comments, here, on Twitter, on LinkedIn – hopefully I practice what I preach and you’ll all be able to find me in the way that suits you best.

Callum

@callumsaunders
@courtenayhr
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