Sustainability of the #Hashtag – Who Is Making Fun Now?

It is here…it works…and it is not going anywhere. I just received my latest edition of Fast Company magazine and I was reminded why this community technology is continually transforming the way we converse.

Even this article #UNPLUG surrounds the conversation of turning off electronics so we can “power back up.” An oxymoron that is using the hashtag technology to connect people and conversations meant to fuel the need to disconnect digitally. The irony…using hashtags to fuel conversations about disconnecting from the mere technology fuels connectivity.

That is my point…the hashtag platform is beyond flexible…it is now integrated across¬†multiple¬†social technologies.

It was Spring 2011 and I was meeting with one of my clients as we were planning a series community events. A part of the strategy to aggregate and engage conversation, I recommended using a branded hashtag to engage regular Twitter chats.

I remember sitting across the room from another vendor who was coordinating this event. Their statement…no one uses hashtags and it will not work. They actually made small chat with comments under there breathe making fun of the idea. Then…they looked at me and asked about my contract with the client. I guess they had not been watching all the #TEDxGVL events. This Greenville community was engaging in conversations during these TEDx events…chatting from the event on Twitter along with those watching from the live stream.

That same year…that same month in 2011…regular chats from health care to blogging were powered by Hashtags connecting millions of people. From #BlogChat, #HealthCareChat, and even Major League Baseball’s #postseason chat…people were connecting, engaging, and sharing conversations.

Now...Google Plus is using Hashtags as a way to connect and engage conversations. Have you used Google Plus lately…well, I have and it is amazing the difference a few years has allowed this community platform to grow and innovate powerful conversations.

Take a look at Facebook’s announcement integrating hashtags into status updates, creating conversation portals.

Hashtracking.com has now moved out of beta and provides a powerful tool for monitoring and measuring the conversations during and after hashtag chats and conversations. They are placing metrics on the number of tweets, engagement, reach, most influential, and more.

I look at the hashtag as another technology connection people and providing a platform to record the documentary of the community conversation. We can now watch conversations evolve; see videos, pictures, and links shared based on a time stamp.

I wish I was back in that meeting from 2011…I would love to give the group of naysayers a simple lesson: don’t make fun of what you don’t understand.

FastCompany: “You Must Be A Storyteller.”

Fast Company’s Kerrin Sheldon wrote a wonderful blog last month titled “Why Short-Form Video Is The Future Of Marketing” and I have to agree.

Let’s Talk Audience
Kerrin went on to make a powerful statement: “To create truly high-quality content, you must be a storyteller. You must be able to pull together a large selection of shots and content and pare it down into a manageable short-form video that will engage an audience.”

This conversation takes me back to a dinner I had with Bob Dotson of NBC. Bob is what I consider a master storyteller and his reputation is obvious from the numerous awards and speaking engagements across the country. He took me to dinner after we worked together on a story in Charlotte. I took this opportunity to become a human sponge and soak up as much knowledge as possible.

Let’s Talk Purpose
Bob explained anyone can tell a story…but if you really want to tell a story that engages an audience, you must find an tell stories with layers. As the storyline progresses in a video…the audience peels back the layers, revealing each little nugget of the storyline. Stories using video are visual communication tools…you just have to know how to find them, especially inside/outside you branded organizations.

I love this short little video interview with Bob:

Bob’s comments get you thinking, why we tell stories and how to find those stories with layers. But back to Kerrin Sheldon’s point about short video content.

Kerrin continues in the Fast Company article to share about this growing market of storytelling:
“I predict the next 5-10 years will be huge for video marketing online. Brands are moving further away from direct advertising, whose metrics that are hard to calculate, and into original video content–content that is created not to sell but to engage. They tell a story and they create brand loyalty. The days of direct consumer advertising is dwindling, and the advent of marketing through storytelling has arrived.”

Let’s Talk Delivery
Let’s at the numbers, here is an online video consumption from June 2012 (Based on ComScore Report):
1) 84.8 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
2) The duration of the average online content video was 6.8 minutes.
3) Video advertising reached another all-time high in June as 11 billion video ads were viewed.
4) Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in June with 154.5 million unique viewers, followed by Yahoo! Sites with 51.5 million, Facebook.com with 49 million, VEVO with 46.2 million and Viacom Digital with 38.9 million. Vimeo moved into the top 10 ranking for the first time at #10 with 21.4 million viewers.

So let’s look at the channels to share your content:
1) YouTube: “Everyone knows YouTube and it continues to dominate the market. But unless you’re a professional musician or are looking to score the new huge viral video showcasing your friends firing off bottle rockets from a made-at-home cannon, there are plenty of other places to showcase your videos. “

2) Vimeo: “Vimeo.com is the finest collection of artistic videographers on the web. Without outwardly deleting poor-quality content, Vimeo’s homepage and search results make it easy to find awesome content and avoid the endless amounts of useless crap that often plague the YouTube experience.”

3) Pinterest: “Along the same lines, Pinterest’s new video feature gives curators great opportunities to pin videos to their boards. Even more so than Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has created a sharing experience so simple and effective, it makes the potential or virility even higher.”

So as Kerrin says, “With ever-increasing YouTube lunch breaks and Vimeo dinner dates, online video is becoming a constant companion–one that every brand is rushing to take advantage of. “

***Image from epicamexico.blogspot.com