Tag Archives: Social media

Hashtag Rules

I didn’t think this post was needed but apparently so.

What is a hashtag? It is a word, or group of words with no spaces or punctuation, preceded by #. On Twitter, and now on Facebook and Instagram, soon the entire world (but please not verbally), it allows you to tag your tweet or post with a searchable term. That is basic function no. 1. Say you are watching a TV show and tweeting. You end each post with #MurdochMysteries. Sometimes you need to put the broadcaster in there because there are different Canadian and US broadcasts so #FPCTV vs #FPIon (for Flashpoint). Then other fans can search the hashtag and see all the posts whether they are following you or not. That works great for tweeting television and for attending conferences or following along with CRTC hearings.

Who comes up with a hashtag? Conference organizers set it, broadcasters and producers set it but for the rest they come about by consensus. If the ones that are set don’t work then consensus will find a new one that does work so you might want to think of the rules of hashtags if it is your job to set it.

The Rules:

1. They are short. You are asking people to remove possible characters from their 140 character limit so keep it as short as possible. Stick to what’s necessary. If it is absolutely necessary to have your broadcaster in the hashtag then keep it (eg. #FPCTV) but if it’s not the fans will likely drop it (eg. PlayedCTV). If it is necessary to put the year in do you really need to put 2013 and not 13? But do you really need that year??

2. Search to make sure that your hashtag isn’t already being used by something else. Remember the purpose. You want people to search the hashtag and follow along. That doesn’t work if you want to talk about Canadian TV but the hashtag is already in use for US chat shows, for example.

3. No punctuation. Only the letters before the punctuation will be an active hashtag.

4. It should make sense for what you are trying to identify with the hashtag. If you are a small group, say those following a CRTC hearing, you can be a bit obscure like #91h or #GLR but if you want a wider audience you need to be really clear.

5. Consider an already acceptable hashtag that is in use. Is it necessary to reinvent the wheel or specifically brand your exercise? If you adopt one that is in use you will become part of an existing conversation instead of trying to start your own from scratch. Easier, eh?

What about all those long hashtags or strange ones like #whatdoyoumeanitsFridayalready or #wheelsup. These would be for advanced users ;). They give flavour to a tweet and aren’t intended to be searchable. Sometimes they become searchable re-used hashtags through use (like #loungesoup or #wonkcake) but usually they are one time only hashtags used to add emotion to a tweet, which can often read emotionless. I’m partial to them myself.

If I’ve missed any of the rules or uses of hashtags, let me know.

Update:  For a little hashtag and grammar fun check out this post:  https://medium.com/we-live-in-the-future/1bb14533fbfd (h/t @elizadushku – another fan of hashtags).

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Social Media Musings – Personal Rule re My Industry

As I have mentioned before, I don’t believe in a set of social media rules that should apply to everyone.  I think however that everyone should create their own set of rules that govern how they interact in social media and some of those rules might be universal but others will be very specific.  I’ve talked about my personal rule on politics and now I’m going to talk about my personal rule on how I tweet about my industry.  If you also work in film, television and digital media this could be directly applicable to you.  If you don’t then think about how you could adapt this rule to your industry.  If you play the role of an advocate, whatever your sector, then I think my rule might be helpful.

I have spent my entire career working on or advocating for Canadian content film, television and digital media.  Social media gives me a great platform to talk about Canadian media, promote it and advocate for positive change.  Positive is the key word here.  I take a very positive approach to my social media activity.  I will sometimes question whether a policy or program is the right one but even then with the utmost respect and politeness (I think).  I will not be negative about media that I have seen but if I love it then I will shout it from the rooftops.  You may think that this is a biased approach and it is but hear me out.

It is tough to work in Canadian media.  We could all be making more money easier – I am convinced of that.  The vast majority of us who work in this field, whether we are creators or administrators or even wonks, do so because we have a passion for Canadian media.  We work hard to get the best content possible in front of Canadian audiences.  So I hugely respect the work that people do, even if sometimes I don’t like the outcome.  It’s all a crapshoot and sometimes the elements that kill a project are outside anyone’s control.  The broadcaster didn’t promote it or the producer couldn’t get enough financing for a decent budget or the wrong actors were cast or the script needed a rewrite.  What are you going to do.

If it’s great then it needs help to get seen.  That’s just a reality in our world.  I did my best with “Michael Tuesdays and Thursdays” but it needed more than me and the other handful of advocates.  Sigh.  I’m a Listenerd and a member of the Clone Club.  And I’m a big, vocal, fan of a few other shows that don’t have cute names for their fans.

There is a place for critical review of media, both by regular people and professionals.   There have been many conversations about how we need to be more critical of our Canadian media – it isn’t all great and some of it needs to be much better.  Sometimes it makes sense that a television show is cancelled or a feature film doesn’t get a big audience.  I just feel too close to the content and know too many of the people involved to have the necessary distance to play that role.  So I don’t.  And sometimes, I have to tell you, it’s really hard.  But that’s my rule.

[Note – I have also been called an incurable optimist so this ‘rule’ may just be who I am.  You decide.]

 

 

Social Media Musings – Politics

As some of you might have guessed, I was totally biting my tongue (or my virtual tongue) on Twitter during the federal cabinet shuffle today.  It occurs to me that it might be useful to explain why I do that so readers can decide how they want to approach moments like that.

As I mention in my social media training workshops, I don’t have a set of rules that I share but principles that I encourage others to consider as they create their own rules.  First, there is no such thing as a personal-only Twitter account.  Tweets are public and can be found by anyone looking to see what you said.  Your audience is not just your followers.  It is very easy for your tweets to reflect on you and your job.  You should have an idea of the persona that you want to have in social media and you should consider whether that persona could in any way impact your ability to do your job – before you start tweeting or posting.

What that means for me is that even though I have definite personal political perspectives, I keep them off my main twitter account.  That’s the decision that I have made.  I totally respect those who include partisan tweets in their feed but it is not something that I am comfortable with.  I would like to be able to advocate on behalf of whoever engages me with the government of the day.  If I, or my clients, have problems with a specific policy then that is fair game but partisan tweets are not.   [Now and then one slips out but this is the rule that I TRY to follow.]

So while I tell people that they need to share their personality on Twitter in order to build trust and engagement, there are limits to how much personality you may want to share.  Where you draw the line is up to you.

If my social media musings are useful, then I might share a few more over the summer.  It’s hot and I don’t want to get into anything terribly wonky in this weather.

How I would like you to use LinkedIn

[Remember – this is my blog so I can muse about whatever I want.]

I think that we’ve all noticed that LinkedIn usage has jumped in recent months.  According to LinkedIn itself, membership grew by 16 million to 225 million in the first quarter of the year.  That’s a 7.6% increase in just one quarter.  It is the 22nd most visited web property in the world.

LinkedIn is an ‘old’ social network since it launched in 2003.  Many people (myself included) built a profile and then ignored it.  Many of you still are ignoring your profile because you think that you are not job-hunting so don’t need it.  I am posting today to ask you to update your profile.  Please.  For me.

There are two things that I use LinkedIn for now and neither is job hunting.  One is to publish blog posts.  Links to a blog post go out simultaneously on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  If you miss it the moment that it goes out on Twitter, you can find it more leisurely on LinkedIn or Facebook.  That is, if you are connected with me in either place (and note that I have to know you pretty well to connect on Facebook – not so much on LinkedIn).

The other thing that I use LinkedIn for is to check out people’s profiles before I meet with them.  Before in my previous job and even more now, I frequently meet with new people.  I like to check out their profile first to see what they look like (it helps when meeting for coffee in a crowded café) and get a better handle on what they are doing now and what their background is.  This is why I would like you, all of you, to post a photo and update your LinkedIn profile so that it tells me what you are doing now and the essential things that you have done in your past.

And yes, I also use LinkedIn to build a network because you have no idea where the next consulting gig is going to come from.  And when I was hiring in my last job I always checked out the applicant’s LinkedIn profile.  So for independent consultants and job hunters or engagers it is essential.

But for the rest of you – please update your profile!

Prime Time 2013

I won’t go through the whole two days – that’s what the tweets are for (search #PTiO).  I just want to share some impressions of the CMPA Prime Time 2013 conference with you.

First, I think this was the most tweeted Prime Time.  Sure, I was tweeting up a storm and so were a number of the usual suspects but there were a lot more newbies including, I was pleased to see, a number of producers.  (Self-promotion aside – if you would like to become active in social media yourself, I have developed a Social Media for Media Executives workshop that I am currently making available to companies.  Contact me if you are interested.) So you may be thinking – is it possible to just stay home and read the tweets?  In my opinion, no.

Tweets are good if you can’t make it to Prime Time but you miss out on a lot if you’re not there.  Prime Time is half panel discussions and half networking.  There is no facilitation of the networking (see my earlier CrossmediaTO post) but it is a great place to build relationships with most of the top television producers, broadcast executives, funders, guilds and associations and a smattering of government people in attendance.  And of course a number of independent consultants such as myself.  There also seems to be a growing number of digital producers.  One year soon, there will be no such distinction and we’ll be talking only about screens.  (And on a personal note, if you’re going through another transition in a fairly long career, Prime Time is a great place to spread the word and feel the love.)

There were two big buzzwords from this year’s conference – disruption and destruction.  Disruption of business models (is international licensing dead?) and outright destruction of markets (video game rental certainly is).  Panelists sometimes disagreed (is it a disruption or just a challenge – does that distinction matter?) but the theme of the conference was that the world has changed and we all – from cable companies to broadcasters to producers to talent – better start thinking creatively if we hope to ride the wave.  Some in attendance already know this and are out in front but there were plenty in the room who need to hear this message oh, a few more times probably, before it sinks in.

Jean-Pierre Blais, Chair of the CRTC, continued the theme with his keynote speech.  It was quite a surprising speech.  Blais told producers that they need to be creative  in their business approach.  He told them to be discontented with the status quo in order to be truly entrepreneurial.  Find new partners and new markets.  He coined a new word when he told the room that under his watch the CRTC would not be ‘protectionist but promotionist’.

There were some key messages here that I think we all should keep in mind over the next little while.  The Canadian independent production industry is very well funded right now with the BDU contribution to the CMF,  the hard won CPE (Canadian Programming Expenditure) requirement and a rather large amount of benefits money.  Benefits will expire and the walled garden that is regulated broadcasting is being disrupted.  I think Blais is telling us here that we need to find new business models and new partners or five years from now we will wake up and find ourselves without CPE or CMF or benefits and there will be no way to finance Canadian television.

The other key message revolved around another buzzword of the conference – discoverability.  In a regulated world with scheduled programs and a TV guide, the audience can find our programs, if they aren’t moved around too much.  But when content is available on multiple platforms without regulation to protect and ensure access then ways to enable the audience to discover Canadian content becomes key.  I am not sure what tools are at the CRTC’s disposal to allow it to be ‘promotionist’ but the message is an important one, and one that carried through to several other panels that day.

‘So think big.  Give us WOW.  Help us discover what we want to watch.’ – Jean-Pierre Blais

P.S. I’ve been asked to finish my Bell-Astral2 post now that the PNI is out and I will get on that shortly.  There’s also a request for a post on the new co-pro policy framework and I’ll get on that one too soon.  But first – some work that pays the bills!!