Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Power Of Hashtags

One of my work tasks is to reach out via social media and try to engage with the public in the study of our topic. While this is often interesting work (finding quotes and presenting them in an engaging way), we struggle at times to get our voice heard.

I have always been hesitant to use #hashtags because of their connection to poor speech and a lack of well reasoned thought on the part of a writer. I have always been taught that text language and similar methods are less than academic and should be avoided. I forgot however one key lesson of anything you are presenting, consider your audience.

By incorporating hashtags to the end of our tweets and posts, we reached a significantly bigger audience than our previous attempts. For example, on average about 20 people would read a post on Facebook and about 1-2 would retweet or add us relative to any one post. By including hashtags as a change, we received 4 retweets, 2 favorites, and 5 new followers on Twitter. This is a dramatic increased our success rate. On Facebook, our post was explored by over 60 people within a matter of a couple of hours.

Who cares? Well the reality is that we are becoming more successful in our outreach and helping to generate interest in our topic. By incorporating hashtags, we've made our postings easier to find, access, and less daunting to a reader. With such a simple change a historian is capable of, in a military term, force multiplying, or making their efforts exponentially more successful by reaching more people.

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