Friday, August 12, 2011

Best Practices: Setting Up a Hashtag

Hey church,* remember to name and claim a hashtag (#) for your conference, convention, assembly or whatever you call formal meetings where people of faith gather to talk about church and faith.

These gatherings can be at the national, regional, or local level. A hashtag is also useful to expand reach for workshops.

I believe this is one of the best social media "best practices" you should adopt. After all, texting and tweeting has become SOP (standard operating practice) for communicating in real time.

In a follow-up post, I'll explain how to use a hashtag during an event. Here, I'm focusing on what needs to happen during the organizing phase of any event.

Establishing a hashtag:
  • allows you to "brand" content and conversation as being from your event
  • makes it possible for like-minded and hearted folks to find your content and conversation
  • provides another mechanism for publicity
  • helps catalog and archive tweets
  • will validate your credibility for using church social media wisely and well
As a practical matter, create a hashtag that identifies the event in memorable (enough) terms and won't suck up too many of the 140 characters allotted on Twitter.

During the Episcopal Church USA's  General Convention in 2009, many attendees used #gc2009. Next week, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of American will be using #CWA11 and ELCA for tweets from its 2011 Churchwide Assembly. Roman Catholic bloggers attending the Vatican Blogger Meet-Up on May 2, 2011 used #VBM11.

Timing matters, so you'll want to create this far enough in advance so you can:
  • publicize the hashtag in printed and online materials
  • generating interest in your event by alerting people on Twitter at least one month in advance
  • discover and fix any weirdness with the hashtag

That's it! Easy peasy. Sites like What the Trend will help you monitor how and when the hashtag is used. Although we're using #chsocm for a weekly chat, click here to see how it was defined and established using What the Trend.

    * Church = everyone, not only clergy!

    1 comment:

    Penelopepiscopal said...

    We had to test a couple of tags before we got to #chsocm. The first try turned out to have an unfortunate meaning in Spanish which was discovered by following in on Tweetdeck and seeing all the suggestive links. So testing helps!

    And so does getting a consensus from a few folks. Since I'm not Methodist, nobody asked me, but my first response upon seeing the #methconf tag was that it was a conference for meth heads.