Twitter Power – Hashtags
If you are a regular twitter user in Sri Lanka, you would have noticed by now a few local hashtags such as #sajje and #FASL being used by tweeps regularly. Firstly, hashtags are fun cause it gives a common topic for tweeps to tweet about. It also allows us to connect with new people who are outside of our friend circle since we notice the tweets via the hashtag search. Thirdly, hashtags also educate us about certain topics and open our eyes to how we think or even change the way we think (hopefully for the good). Fourthly…. nah the above 3 reasons are enough to justify the importance of hashtags. So what now?
Social media have eaten into the regular traditional media such as the television set (aka the ‘idiot box’) and this is showing even in Sri Lanka since we see more smartphones (equipped with inbuilt social networking apps) coming into the market and more people viewing content online (via youtube). Though facebook is still the number one networking site used by Sri Lankans, there is growing use for twitter with its own unique features and simplicity.
With twitter users growing exponentially, why don’t the television stations look at the new media optimistically to increase viewership? How you may ask? ‘Hashtags’ is simply the answer. This is how it could be done:
- As a starting point, a television network could pick a popular programme or a controversial programme to test the hashtag proposition.
- Say we pick ITN’s ‘Doramadalawa‘ which is a good pick to use a hashtag since the programme itself is opinion orientended and could really drive the tweeps to have a live discussion amongst themselves. All that the programme needs to do is to mention the hashtag ‘#Doramadalawa’* during the programme on one end of the corner of the screen.
- With more and more social media companies mashrooming in Sri Lanka, a team (more realistically an individual) could monitor the statistics for the use of the hashtag on twitter during the programme. From past experience in running hashtag promotions I would say 100 tweets (with hashtag ‘#Doramadalawa’) every 5 minutes could be considered as a success for phase 1 of this experimentation.
- So with phase 1 a success, the social media ‘guru’ (as every Sarath, Varuni and Hashan who has tweeted a month in the social media world is called nowadays) can proudly present these statistics to the programme head or director if needs be and get approval to start the important ‘phase 2′.
- With an audience now watching the programme and also tweeting about it, its time to make a connection to the programme by introducing a ‘twitter marquee’ onto the screen displaying the real time conversations happening. This will also encourage engagement and viewership: engagement via viewers who will turn on their smartphones and viewership with twitter users switching on to the channel to see what all the fuss is about when tweets are noticed. Which ‘programme head’ with the right mind wouldn’t want such an outcome for little effort and cost?
- The programme itself could have a twitter handle and update important discussion summaries as the programme is playing. (This is actually one way to initally start the engagement if it needs an artificial push to get things going.)
- Phase 2 should pretty much take care of things to spread the word about the programme and increase viewership and be the talk of the town. Back up plans could be to have incentives like gift programme merchandise or even pick audience for live recordings (For programmes like ‘Derana Dream Stars’ or ‘Obada lakshapathi’).
Which television network in Sri Lanka would start the #hashtag revolution and get the country going towards a more educated connected society? Dear Television network, this is for your awareness.
Maybe the regular twitter user could start the trend too? Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
* – Instead of #Doramadalawa, a hashtag could be created for the topic in discussion but this might be more appropriate if the programme has its own twitter account and has a good following, but keeping in mind that there is no 1 way to go about things on twitter when it comes to driving in traffic and getting people to converse.