In social media, you can write about something and include a phrase preceded by the '#' symbol to let other people know that your post is about that subject: a hashtag. For example, I might write "I like cheddar #cheese". This means that anyone who searches for posts relating to cheese may come across what I have written, even if they are not connected to me directly (via friends in Facebook or follows in Twitter, for example).
The hashtag is often used for events or at specified times so that people can come together to share information with each other even if they don't know each other. An example of this is #CharityHour.
What is #CharityHour?
Between the hours of 8pm and 9pm (UK time) on a Wednesday, you will be able to join in a discussion on Twitter by including #CharityHour in your tweets. The idea is that people working for charities, or those that support them (such as us!), can share hints and tips, but also learn about the work of other groups and provide a platform for networking. To see what people are saying, you can simply search for #CharityHour in Twitter's search bar and watch the conversation unfold.
To learn more about #CharityHour, who set it up and why, please visit http://harrisonmann.co.uk/news/harrison-mann-launches-uk-wide-charityhour-twitter/.
Part of #CharityHour is structured so that relevant questions are asked (by those that run #CharityHour) and people respond with their experiences (along with '#CharityHour', of course). As an example of how this can act as a valuable learning exercise, the questions and responses from #CharityHour on 27th August 2014 have been included below, along with the Twitter name of those that responded (begininng with '@'). All questions are asked by @CharityHourUK.
Question: Q1 What has been your most recent achievement/milestone and how did you mark/celebrate this? Big or small let us know :)
@PipManchester: A1 #charityhour we had 2 people interested in doing some serious research - put them together - abt to kick off something big
@fairybricks: A1 Our online raffle raising enough to support 18 hospitals. That was the target for the entire year! #charityhour
@giftofawedding: A1, took a chance and asked for help and got the charity in the news this week. Had an ovewhelming reaction #charityhour
Question: Q2 Thinking of milestones/achievements how can charities communicate these to others?
@ParentsVoiceWor: A2 We do an annual report but really need to put it on our website (haven't done that yet). And we tweet! #charityhour
@Spell4Unwell: A2 Social media is probably the best route, we often get too excited about milestones to keep them to ourselves. It's not about bragging. Our milestones are a product of everyone who supports us so it should be shared! #charityhour
@PaulDuxbury: A2 - have a simple newsletter on their website which they send out to supporters once a month/quarter - using paper.li
@fairybricks: A2 Be happy and announce achievements but show some humility with it. We are British after all ;-) #charityhour
@PipManchester: A2. we post on f/book when someone new learns about #polandsyndrome as it's one more than yesterday :-) small steps #charityhour
@PaulDuxbury: Just a thought #charityhour if you want to create a newsletter for your Charity take a look at @scoopit
Question: Q3 What milestones do you/should charities keep track of? E.g. volunteering hours, queries resolved etc.?
@Spell4Unwell: As much as possible. We're very careful about keeping track of incomings, outgoings and who we have helped.
@giftofawedding: A3 - also 1st of everything should be documented as you can see how far you've come, e.g - 1st fundraiser #charityhour
@fairybricks: All hours are voluntary but for us, accounting obviously, hospitals visited and value of LEGO donated #charityhour
@PipManchester: for us at the moment it's about reach means we get the message out #charityhour but we do need to do better! thinking abt ways 2 do this
Question: Q4 How should volunteer milestones or achievements be promoted and recognised? E.g. v100 award, getting job etc.?
@CramdenTECH_UK: Create PR buzz and place volunteers front and centre in any media pics generated around milestone events. #charityhour
@spell4unwell: @CharityHourUK A4 We've not had any yet but they should definitely be celebrated as much as possible cause volunteers are integral!
@ChildSocGM: @CharityHourUK currently looking into ways to recognise and reward without taking the spirit of volunteering. Regular events and thanks?
@CharityHourUK: @ChildSocGM free food and occasional volunteer socials can do trick! alongside that, weekly/fortnightly volunteer updates with thanks etc.
Question: Q5 What key best practice have you learnt from past milestones/achivements?
@PIPManchester: @CharityHourUK A5 #charityhour record them all no matter how small on difficult days bring them out for a bit of #motivation
@LearningCurve2: @CharityHourUK Keep staff/volunteers/other stakeholders updated regularly so they all share in success and know what's going on
@SovaSupportLink: @CharityHourUK continuously consult with the people you support in developing your service
@giftofawedding: A5 - learn from them and repeat them as often as you can #charityhour
As you can see, if used well (and sparingly), hashtags can be much more than something to clutter up the written word! Thank you to @CharityHourUK and Harrison Mann for their input, as well as everyone at #CharityHour itself. We hope to see you all there very soon!
Still have questions? Just give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07949 248119.