I have a long history with hashtags.
A LONG history.
Fires and parades
Back on October 23, 2007, I used my then-active Twitter account to tweet about the #sandiegofire. The San Diego fire was arguably the first mass adoption of hashtags, building upon pioneering work by Stowe Boyd and Chris Messina and acted upon by Nate Ritter and others.
The tinyurl link directed followers to my post detailing how the aforementioned San Diego Fire was displacing sports teams, including the San Diego Chargers. (Yes, kids, the Chargers used to play in San Diego.)
So while I was there at the beginning of hashtags, I’m proudest of the post that I wrote a couple of months later, entitled “Hashtagging Challenges When Events Occur at Different Times in Different Locations.” It describes the challenges of talking about the Rose Parade when someone is viewing the beginning of the parade while someone else is viewing the end of the parade at the same time. (This post was cited on PBWorks long ago, referenced deep in a Stowe Boyd post, and cited elsewhere.)
Hashtag use in business
Of course, hashtags have changed a lot since 2007-2008. After some resistance, Twitter formally supported the use of hashtags, and Facebook and other services followed, leading to mass adoption beyond the Factory Joes of the world.
Ignoring personal applications for the moment, hashtags have proven helpful for business purposes, especially when a particular event is taking place. No, not a fire in a major American city, but a conference of some sort. Conferences of all types have rushed to adopt hashtags so that conference attendees will promote their conference attendance. The general rule is that the more techie the conference, the more likely the attendees will use the conference-promoted hashtag.
I held various social media responsibilities during my years at MorphoTrak and IDEMIA, some of which were directly connected to the company’s annual user conference, and some of which were connected to the company’s attendance at other events. Obviously we pulled out the stops for our own conferences, including adopting hashtags that coincided with the conference theme.
And then when the conference organizers adopt a hashtag, they fervently hope that people will actually USE the adopted hashtag. As I said before, this isn’t an issue for the technical conferences, but it can be an issue at the semi-technical conferences. (“Hey, everybody! Gather around the screen! Someone used the conference hashtag…oh wait a minute, that’s my burner account.”)
A pleasant surprise with exhibitor/speaker adoption of the #connectID hashtag
Well, I think that we’ve finally crossed a threshold in the biometric world, and hashtags are becoming more and more acceptable.
As I previously mentioned, I’m not attending next week’s connect:ID conference in Washington DC, but I’m obviously interested in the proceedings.
So I turned to Twitter to check if anyone was using a #connectID hashtag in advance of the event. (Helpful hint: hashtags cannot include special characters such as “:” so don’t try to tweet #connect:ID; it won’t work and will appear as #connect.) Using the date-sorted search https://twitter.com/search?q=%23connectid&src=typed_query&f=live, I was expecting to see a couple of companies using the hashtag…if I was lucky.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that nearly two dozen exhibitors and speakers were using the #connectID hashtag (or referenced via the hashtag) as of the Friday before the event, including Acuity Market Intelligence, Aware, BIO-key, Blink Identity, Clearview AI, HID Global, IDEMIA, Integrated Biometrics, iProov, Iris ID, Kantara, NEC and NEC NSS, Pangiam, Paravision, The Paypers, WCC, WorldReach Software/Entrust, and probably some others by the time you read this, as well as some others that I may have missed.
And the event hasn’t even started yet.
At least some of the companies will have the presence of mind to tweet DURING the event on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Will yours be one of them?
But company adoption is only half the battle
While encouraging to me, adoption of a hashtag by a conference’s organizers, exhibitors, and speakers is only the beginning.
The true test will take place when (if) the ATTENDEES at the conference also choose to adopt the conference hashtag.
According to Terrapin (handling the logistics of conference organization), more than 2,500 people are registered for the conference. While the majority of these people are attending the free exhibition, over 750 of them are designated as “conference delegates” who will attend the speaking sessions.
How many of these people will tweet or post about #connectID?
We’ll all find out on Tuesday.