Some of the most common questions (and debates) that come across my desk involve Twitter hashtags. What is a hashtag? Should I create one for my event? How do I use it? What should my hashtag be?
I’m going to attempt to give a fairly comprehensive guide to hashtags, and how to use them at the University of Michigan.
WHAT IS A HASHTAG?
According to the Twitter Help Center (support.twitter.com), the definition of a hashtag is:
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.
- People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets to help them show more easily in Twitter search.
- Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all the other Tweets marked with that hashtag.
- Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet.
Using hashtags correctly:
- If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet.
- Don’t #spam with #hashtags. Don’t over-tag a single Tweet — Twitter best practices recommend using no more than two hashtags per Tweet.
- Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic.
I’ve been toying for MONTHS about the best way to get great U-M photos all collected in one place. I tried using the #UMInstagram hashtag (which is still kinda cool, but I hadn’t truly found a good use for it).
Storify is cool, but it’s just not as powerful as I want it to be.
And then today it hit me: The @umichstudents media grid.
It couldn’t be a more perfect visual representation of student life at Michigan. It’s photos taken BY STUDENTS, and they’re all in these beautiful Instagram squares, which is just perfect.
To be honest, I haven’t figured out all the ways to leverage this yet, but I did update the background of the @umichstudents page, and I think it looks pretty cool. What’s a better way to show a day in the life of our students than their own photos?
With a $14 million sustainability initiative http://www.annarbor.com/news/university-of-michigan-launches-major-environmental-sustainability-initiative/ and President Coleman’s clear commitment to furthering sustainability on campus, the University of Michigan is primed to be “the leaders and the best” in a whole new arena. And, as an alumnus who writes about sustainable business and leadership, I’d love to be able to report that Michigan will be the FIRST university to offer sustainability courses through the new Coursera partnership.
As the Erb Institute put it in a recent Tweet, let my HuffingtonPost piece be a “call for Erb contribution” (and for contribution from the many other UM sustainability resources). As I wrote the post and considered the possible educational game-change potential of the University’s involvement with Coursera, I kept in mind the words of President Coleman, who said when she announced the multi-million dollar sustainability initiative last September:
“I want the message to be clear: Sustainability defines the University of Michigan,” Coleman said. “Combine maize and blue and you get green.
(The following first published on the HuffingtonPost, May 8, 2012)
Where should we be looking for sustainable business change today? Perhaps it should not be toward the usual corporate suspects, many of which are slow to decide on even minor operational and product development shifts. The more compelling view may instead come from looking in the entrepreneurial direction.
I’ve been covering corporate sustainability for a while now, but, admittedly, my passion for it has waned. What most big companies can achieve in their attempts to change centuries old operational systems struggles to compare with the game-changing energy, ideas and commitment I’ve recently come across in the young entrepreneur community. The potential sustainability impact of what those in Seattle (my own city) and those of similarly innovative minds on many other college and university campuses across the nation/globe is what strikes me to the core of my ever-hopeful, change-through-business soul.
A week ago I spent a day with representatives of the Pacific Northwest’s emerging generation of sustainability and socially-minded entrepreneurs, and it blew me away. To fully disclose, and though the thoughts I share here are my own, I participated in this event in my social media role for the University of Washington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, covering their Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC). After being at this gathering, I realized that corporate sustainability likely has nothing better than the potential for paradigm shift that bubbles inside the men and women now attending our colleges and universities.
But, back to the actual event. As the 23 student teams made their two-minute pitches early on, it was all my Twitter-happy fingers could do to capture each of their cool ideas and smart thinking. And, I was not the only one impressed. Even the highly experienced Seattle-area entrepreneurs who judged the challenge seemed to have the same feeling as me, which was that our economy will do just fine — as long as we identify, support and encourage this generation of student sustainability innovators. (Many also said something like “Darn, why wasn’t I this smart when I was that age?”)
Commencement is so big. Not just in size. It’s big in importance. It’s the day that we get to celebrate hard work, scholarship, and the success of our students.
It’s also a day full of stories, so here’s a round-up of how we told them.
We started with this Instagram shot from one of our staff members, which was featured on our Facebook page:
At the ticket pick-up, the Alumni Association had the graduating seniors pin a map of where they’re going after graduation, and tweeted a link.
The Ross School of Business encouraged its graduating students (and those celebrating the graduates) to use the hashtag #michrossgrad, including printing the hashtag in their commencement day materials. The day was kicked off by a tweet from the dean, and the tweets and photos that came through all day told a great story.
The School of Art & Design has been focusing more on posting photos on their Facebook page, and they created a special album, including photos of their outgoing Dean, Bryan Rogers, in a special helmet given to him by his colleagues. It was so representative of the feel of that particular school.
The Office of University Development set up two photo booths at the grad gathering area, and posted the photos to Facebook, encouraging students to tag themselves in the photos. They saw a 17.5% increase in likes and a 9500% increase in daily page engaged users. One of their photos was also featured on the main U-M Facebook page.