Monday, June 3, 2013

Hashtags 2.0

Twitter provides us with a  comprehensive definition for hashtags - one most hardcore social media pros can recite by heart - and how they are used. But often when I'm teaching the mystical ways of the Twitterverse to the uninitiated, I find myself describing not just the basic definition but the different forms a hashtag can take. Earlier this year, I included a well rounded definition for each form and some examples of them as I was writing an official Twitter guide for my company. As Carahsoft social strategy evolves, these guides are already becoming an important aide as our social media team grows and we train more of our c-suite level employees on how to get the most from the platform as individuals.

Not only did I take the time to define these hashtags, but I've also implemented a style preference to coincide with each. You'll notice a big fan of AP style and journalistic brevity (given my background) and that carries over into the "Titles" section. Read each of them below:

Two or more words that have been compounded into a singular hashtag. Like common compound prefixes, these words should not be capitalized. The exception for this rule includes those used in Titles. See Titles. Unlike common compounds, no hyphens are necessary.

                 #bigdata – Big Data
                 #cybercrime – Internet Crime
                 #opensource – Open Source
                 #dataanalytics – Data Analytics


A group of initial letters used as an abbreviation for a name or expression. All such hashtags should include the capitalization of all letters. Exceptions include initials such as “of” in the hashtag #DoD which is the abbreviation for the U.S. Department of Defense.

                 #BYOD - Bring Your Own Device
                 #CIO – Chief Information Officer
                 #CISO – Chief Information Security Officer
                 #DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service
                 #GIS – Geographic Information Systems

All singular words, whether they are nouns, adverbs, adjectives or suffixes, which are used as hashtags should be lowercase. The exception for this rule includes those used in Titles. See Titles.

             #virtualization Virtualization
                 #collaboration – Collaboration
                 #mobility – Mobility
                 #cloud – Cloud

As is with the AP styling of publication titles, all composition, webcast and on-site event titles should include capitalization for all principal words as well as prepositions and conjunctions of four or more letters. This includes capitalization of all hashtags, including those that are used in truncation. See Truncation.

.@Pentaho webcast today at 2pm ET - #BigData Analytics for the #FedGov w/ #MongoDB. #GovIT

Typically embodies the abbreviation of a word in a format which consists of only the first part of the word. In Twitter hashtags, this often consists of multiple words combined. These types of hashtags should normally be all lowercased. The exclusions for this rule include unique interpretations, proper nouns and the use of titles. See Titles.

                 #digitalgov – Digital Government
                 #infosec – Information Security
                 #mobilegov – Mobile Government
                 #opengovOpen Government
                 #GovTech – Government Technology
                 #GeoINT – Geospatial Intelligence
                 #HigherEd – Higher Education
                 #TechTalk – Technology Talk

Varied Abbrev.
Some hashtags include a mixture of truncation and initialism style abbreviations. If the truncation precedes the initials, then the hashtag should always begin with capitalization. If the initials precede truncation, do not capitalize the truncated portion. Single initialism followed by truncation should begin with a lowercase, followed by capitalization. See Initialism and Truncation for comprehensive style descriptions.

                 #GovIT – Government IT
                 #Gov20   – Government 2.0
                 #EduIT – IT Education
                 #CAgov – California Government
                 #ITsecurity - IT Security
                 #INgov – Indiana Government
Singular Initialism-Truncation:
                 #eGov – Electronic Government
                 #mLearning – Mobile Learning
                 #oGov – Open Government

I certainly recognize that Twitter is an unrestricted culture and these guiding definitions are purely applied as a means to establish a consistent voice in Carahsoft's own brand. With that said, I'd love to know what rule of thumb you go by in your organization's Twitter messaging. Feel free to share them in the comments.

Thanks for reading!


Go to market plan said...

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PLMR London said...

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Anonymous said...

@Complain2Them : I very much agree that this is just the kind of really useful snippet of info that everyone can use to achieve success with the medium of twitter.

I'd just like to add a little of my own thinking here, in hope it might just add some very small but significant extra value to this excellent piece, is that nlocking the top tips, such as contained here, is one thing, however, identifying and applying an almost algorithmic approach, as here (I'm sure we can all play with this a bit) to make it work for us, is inspiring.

Now all users need is the keyword, the hashtags that will rouse, to unlock success and inspiration; The question? Is it newsworthy? That's the only question -just a binary split here; just Y/N?

Technique I use to ensure adequate reflection on what I am writing is to ensure as long a wait after composing as it is possible for me to allow before decision time: If Yes, then post: if No, then delete.

This is similar in many ways to going down the runway in your aircraft and discover there is a fault. A wait and avoidance of impulse provides at least a space by which you can avoid committing to take-off. This guidance mustn't interfere in achieving fast newsworthy stuff, but always delay opinion to achieve your ideal target audience who will recognise you as a thougthful restrained poster who's information is worth reading. My rule is ask questions rather than make statements. You can slant your question against yourself if it will rouse the target audience.

To schedule the time (if not perhaps using Hootsuite to schedule) is something that still puzzles me. I like the idea but as others have queried, how is the schedule time decided by Hootsuite. No-one is asking for that algorithm to be disclosed but merely a reasonable explanation at what is sought to achieve and is that achievement for the benefit of Hootsuite, the networks or you?

As someone from mail order marketing 20 years ago, there was a scheduling rule. It was that we had to post mail on a day to reach the recipient when they are most likely to have been paid. However, it won't matter however many poor messages you send out to your target audience, only the good ones count and only those achieve success. In mail order you might be out of business with a 0.9% response rate. Without volume you simply cannot do it. Today would be astronomical cost and could only work for premium or high ticket items.

The great wonder and power we now have in our hands presents us with a complete paradox; that you can reach anywhere at any volume with nothing more than the slightest effort and thought. This is why not to tweet just to fill time.

Much different to the struggle we used to go through mailing every week a total of three quarters of a million letters a quarter.

Thank you to this poster. You can see it was thought-provoking, comment, inducing hopefully useful information. That's all that counts in the end.

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