Connecting for Nature

A Biodiversity Partnership for Ryedale, Scarborough and the Howardian Hills

Hashtags and Twitter Hours

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Red Campion is a sign that summer is just around the corner. This image might be tagged with #Springwatch, #wildflowerhour, #wildaboutgardens to coincide with specific awareness events or more generic tags like #pollinators, #flowers or #bees.

Spring has sprung and awareness weeks abound – from #NationalGardeningWeek and #WildAboutGardens to #HedgehogWeek, #Springwatch and #30DaysWild….So how are you at engaging with these social media events?

 The use of a hashtag groups together tweets on the same topic. Used in this way they can link all the people who are talking about that particular tag, whether or not they follow one another. So it is a good way to find new followers with a shared interest. A ‘Twitter Hour’ is a slightly more planned use of hashtags, the basic premise being that people with a common interest can arrange to be online at the same time of day to exchange opinions, share news and promote one another etc.
I say slightly as some Twitterhours are more planned and led than others. A fun introduction to the hashtag concept is to type in #Springwatch to your twitter search function whilst watching the show on TV. You will see a live feed of tweets from all over the UK as the audience interacts with the show. Its quite an immersive experience and gives a nice barometer of audience reaction to the show. This is almost what you might call a twitterhour by default. Lately I have taken part in #BloomHour (tweeting on behalf of my alter-ego @SBIB_bloom). BloomHour is a recent ‘twitterhour’ experiment on Tuesdays 8-9pm for community groups in the Britain in Bloom movement to come together through Twitter and share ideas. I can tell you its quite hard work maintaining multiple conversations on twitter and harder still on a phone keeping track of likes, retweets, replies and mentions in real time. Of course the mistake I made was to try to do all this in the Twitter app itself. A much easier interaction is possible using a free social media dashboard like ‘Hootsuite’ or ‘Tweetdeck’. This enables you to set up several concurrent feeds of ‘#bloomhour‘, ‘mentions’, ‘replies’ etc. in the same view, all shown in columns across your screen. It doesn’t have to be on a PC, as a decent sized tablet or a large-screen smartphone will run Hootsuite as well. You need an account and to give Hootsuite permission to read your tweets and post on your behalf, but essentially you remain in control.
Another lesson if you want to participate is to plan ahead so that you have thought about what messages you want to put out, what questions you want to ask of this specific twitter community and what you hope to gain from being present. It could be mere profile visibility, more followers from a specific niche interest group or swap experiences, tips, advice with other accounts /groups in similar situations. It is also possible and a good idea to prepare some tweets in advance, so that you have them waiting ready to go when the twitterhour starts. This is possible on Twitter mobile app. – you merely compose your tweet then touch the back button – it will offer you discard or save tweet. Then when ready to recover your draft, hit compose tweet button and beside your profile there should be another little quill pen icon representing your drafts.
In Hootsuite composing drafts is easy too. Whenever you compose a new tweet, you can post immediately or click schedule and pick a day and time to go out. If you put a date in the future it appears in a column ‘drafts’ in date order. Simply select a draft to edit it, amend its scheduled time or even ‘post now’.
Do you use hashtags yourself when composing posts? Have you taken part in any tagged events such as #Springwatch?  I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences about real-time interaction with events using hash-tags.
This post originally was conceived as a part three of a set discussing some social media topics, “Social Media- part III  – Hashtags and Twitterhours” You may like to see the other two related posts here Social Media MOT: part 1 -Twitter hats and here Social Media MOT: Part 2 -Scheduling
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Author: Tim Burkinshaw

I work in ecology and biodiversity in North Yorkshire. I'm often found outdoors snapping nature and landscapes or spotting birds. In the garden I enjoy having my hands in the earth and striving for the perfect mix of greens and browns in my compost! As a Daddy I'm used to endless questions about the world around us, and generally have an answer up my sleeve for most things. If you spot me and my hat in real life or on social media do say hello!

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