Hashtag Art

Hashtags look like this; #

Hashtag Art looks like this;

Image from MissPixels via flickr, as part of her Hashtag project.

Hashtags are used on twitter to categorise your tweet, and it’s this frequency of hashtag appearance that leads to the trending topic on twitter. They’re simple to use, just type it into your tweet or post. The use of the hashtag has spilled into other forms of communication, although it seems to be frowned upon by facebook pedants.

People get really creative with the use of hashtags, adding them to tweet about events, conferences, company failures (the infamous #fail), games (check out artwiculate), news and tv programmes. Humourous tags have emerged – such as #FirstWorldProblems

I love the creativity people put into their hashtags, and some have developed into memes (#durftevragen – dare to ask in Dutch is a great example), but MissPixels hashtag project seems to be a rare example of applying the hashtag to the visual. Given the trends of increasing images used in presentations, increasing use of social media and increasing use of text/image combinations I’m surprised. It could be a fun project for a team or group as well.

Image #imagine – fun in the sunset – Hashtag project© /MissPixels/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Revolution 2.0

Revolution 2.0; The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power: A Memoir

I heard Wael Ghonim speak at the Dublin Web Summit last week, and before he’d finished talking I’d purchased the Kindle edition of Revolution 2.0; the power of the people is greater than the people in power – his memoir of the uprising in Egypt.

About a day after the conference I’d finished reading it, and I’m still thinking about it. It’s the story of a growing political awareness of the author, a revolution in a country that had had the same ruler for decades, and the huge power unleashed by social media.

Ghonim applied his marketing skills to build a following by;

  • making sure he connected with similar groups to build momentum,
  • using the language of his audience (the language of Egyptian youth rather than formal Arabic)
  • asking the community for their input, and acting on it
  • including and linking to content from similar sources
  • integrating online and offline by promoting and supporting other protests including the silent stands

His account also points to some online dilemmas, although the Internet started out with the possibility to remain anonymous, that’s not really the case any more and Facebook requires a real person to be behind admin accounts. But if you’re inside a country where the state of emergency has existed for decades or where the state security machine is active against dissidents you want to remain anonymous. Ghonim countered this by having a supporter based in the US listed as the real person, while a small group of activists had the password to the admin account. He also discusses some tools used to disguise where you’re posting from. I suspect that government security teams around the world will study Ghonim’s book, and the relevant social media accounts in order to be ready for the next revolutionaries using social media.

It’s very much an “on the ground” account.The writing is raw, it was written quickly so that the launch would co-incide with the 1year anniversary of the 25 January protest, and as he concedes at the end of the book, outcomes are still unclear.

There is much discussion around the impact social media has in a revolution, is it the beginning of a brave new world? Yes, and no.

Yes – for two reasons; firstly, it enabled smaller disparate groups to connect and start to see the scale their actions could have. Secondly, at least initially, social media took the place of a free press, reporting – almost in real time – the events on the ground. This reporting went global thanks to Egyptian expats who translated some of the content, countering the official press accounts.

No – at a certain point, probably around the first large scale protest on Tahrir Square on 25 January, the real world took over. Without this the social media conversations could be ignored or dismissed by the government.

Social Media acted as a catalyst, sparking a revolution. But it was the men and women on the streets who made the revolution, without their courage to act it was a theoretical discussion.

I was left with deep admiration for the author, for taking his commercial skills a dose of courage and building a foothold for the revolution. A sadness for all those families who lost someone in the revolution, and hope. Hope that the future is brighter.

Twitter Olympics

When Danny Boyle included social media in the opening ceremony did he couldn’t have known that the downside of social media would be thrown into the spotlight by the athletes.

First, before the games had started, Voula Papachristou who was due to compete in the triple jump tweeted

“With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”.

She was promptly banned from the Olympics – before she’d even left home.

Then yesterday a young soccer/football player Michel Morganella of Switzerland posted a tweet after the Swiss team lost to South Korea that according to the Daily Mail

The star posted the message shortly after the game, saying that South Koreans ‘can go burn’ and referred to them as a ‘bunch of mongoloids.’

The twitter account has since been deleted and Morganella has been banned and sent home, he won’t be helping his team in the upcoming games Athletes competing at the Olympic know that they’re being watched, they know that twitter is public, and that they attract large number of followers because of their role in sport.

The IOC has set out guidelines for acceptable social media behaviour by the athletes. Unfortunately the supporters have not signed up to a code of conduct. Morganella claims his tweet was in response to various tweets directed to his account after the Swiss loss.

Another supporter tweeted to Tom Daley’s account. Tom Daley is competing at his second Olympics and in the synchronised diving event yesterday he and his dive partner came forth following a mostly great performance. Unfortunately for the pair the standard is so high that one “off” dive puts you out of medal contention. It was a big disappointment for them, and the supporters of Team GB. One of whom tweeted his disappointment earning him a RT from TomDaley1994

After giving it my all…you get idiot’s sending me this…RT @Rileyy_69: @TomDaley1994 you let your dad down i hope you know that

His 770,000 followers took up his cause creating a #GetRileyy_69Banned hashtag. The Rileyy_69 account has tweeted more than one apology, and declared that they’re “actually a really a nice person”. That may well be true, but the twitter account is full of abuse, racist comments and swear words masquerading as banter so I’m doubting.

It’s a bit of a storm in a teacup, and I hope it doesn’t detract from Tom Daley’s training.

But all of this is a good reminder about using social media guidelines. A set of well constructed guidelines should;

  1. encourage people to use social media
  2. help people understand what behaviour and comments are acceptable
  3. specify what behaviour is not acceptable (even under provocation)
  4. specify consequences for unacceptable behaviour

Most people representing your company will want to do the right thing, but there will be occasions where it goes wrong – perhaps as a simple mistake or a thoughtless comment made in frustration rather than maliciousness. But all cases require action.

The biggest thing to remember is that anything put on social media is permanent and public.

(Image from mashable)

Change is Good

This is the first time in two years I haven’t started my day looking at twitter.

I’m not talking about my personal account, but a work account.

I started the company’s corporate twitter account two years ago initially as a channel to promote our company’s press announcements and features. At first no-one was listening and certainly no-one asked any questions. But it started to pick up about a year ago, and now it’s growing steadily, OK the follower numbers aren’t Lady Gaga big, but they’re growing. We also know with the increased use of twitter and other social media tools we need to be listening to what is being said, answering questions and finding ways to help our customers.

It’s been fun running the account, but it’s becoming far more than I can do in between the rest of my job, so there’s a new role in our department – the only new position to be approved in the climate of cost-cutting we’re in – to start working with social media full time. This is a move to make it a professional service and it’s going to be great.

It’s also an indication that this social media craze is being taken seriously in the board room.


Twits on Twitter

Earlier this week I was looking for a way to contact RTL (a TV broadcasting company in the Netherlands) and tell them that their online television guide wasn’t showing the info for all channels – a very distressing proposition for me, as it will result in the phenomenon knowen as “random viewing” where I end up channel grazing for hours.

I couldn’t find an appropriate email address on the site so I turned to twitter,  that fab new tool that companies the world over are embracing to use for the customer contact. It seems that a lot of other people thought that RTL would be the company, and have tweeted questions and comments with @RTL in the tweets, instead it’s someone in fukuoka, with a locked account so I don’t know how active he/she is.

There are loads of tools out there to monitor tweets, so I wondered if perhaps RTL was picking up on these questions and responding somehow. Further digging revealed the offical RTL Netherlands twitter account @RTLNL, with zero tweets.

Lots has been said about how companies should set up their twitter accounts, how they should be used, how it’s vitally important to staff them etc, so I won’t go into what RTL could improve. In any case someone managed to get in contact with them – because the programme data is back today.

But I’d like to point out that users could also help by checking that the account they’re sending comments to is one that will provide an answer. In this case @RTL is a random person in Japan who’s getting messages in languages he can’t read.

To increase the chances of the company helping you via twitter check;

  • does the company have a twitter account?
  • are they actively using their account?
  • if the company has more than one account, which one is relevant for your question?

3 ways to have more fun with Twitter

1 Grade your tweets

Yet another way to assess your influence in the twitterverse, from Tweet Grader.

They’ve had fun with this and it’s worth trying just for the “while you wait” messages.

Those with a higher influence get listed as “twitter elite” for their location. No, I’m not yet in their exalted ranks – something to aim for perhaps.

Oddly I found this because I was trying to find out when I joined Twitter, and it’ll give you that information and a summary of your profile.

2 Time your tweets

Find out when your followers are most likely to be online via tweriod.

Apparently the activity for my followers on twitter is mid afternoon and evening. I’m mostly on twitter for fun, so this has less impact on me than on someone tweeting professionally. But I will try scheduling my blog releases for the afternoon and see if I can detect any impact.

For those using twitter professionally there are plenty of tools around to schedule tweets throughout the hours where you’ll get the most attention.

There are several tools out there to send timed tweets, my tweets are real time apart from when I tweet about a blog post.

3 Who’s following you?

Every so often I take a look through my twitter followers, I want to know who’s following me, it’s always interesting to see who is new on the list. I also would like to compare that to who I follow, and I’d like to know if some accounts have changed or died. Twitter Karma lets me do that.

It also lets me unfollow accounts very easily (ouch!) which I did test and the change is instantly picked up on your twitter count. I unfollowed about 10 accounts that seem to be inactive; housekeeping, nothing personal.

There are lots of tools out their for the professional user, to set up timed tweets, to monitor followbacks, to automatically unfollow people. But for my use, which is at a much simpler level, these are some of the tools I need.

Starting with Social Media – The Discussion

I had the opportunity to be one of the experts in a round table discussion on Social Media last Friday with young artists as part of the Realisme event. The other expert, with more claim to the title then me, was Martijn Verver.

At the end of the round table sessions the advice we had could be summarised in to two phrases; “just do it” and “tell your own story”. So much for expertise!

But the discussion was really interesting and some of the questions were really pertinent and I’ve tried to summarise the answers here (with links I hope are helpful).


There is a real and understandable temptation to focus on the technology, to go straight to the tools. But it’s worth keeping in mind that social media is about how you behave online; it’s about connecting people.

1) You need to be yourself online.

2) You can connect to others – even people you haven’t met before. You can ask them to also “friend” or “follow” you. It will take time to build a following.

3) Should it be in English? If your target audience is international then you probably need your content to be in English; but you can rely on visual content, you don’t need a lot of written content.

4) I’m not comfortable promoting myself, how can I use social media? (This came following a discussion of how social media can be your “marketing department”) You don’t have to describe your work in glowing terms; you can just post pictures of progress or inspiration, and say what you’re working on – let others praise you!

5) You may get negative comments – they will probably be outweighed by the positive ones – but be prepared for it. If you have a mature following your followers may defend you, but you may have to decide whether, or how to respond. Generally speaking discussion is a good thing.


Perhaps the most questions were about the tools themselves – here are the most interesting.

1) Should I use facebook if my audience doesn’t?

Probably not – at least not to address that audience but you, or the gallery you work with, might want to use it to promote an exhibition.

If you’re using facebook think about setting up a separate fan page for your art, rather than using your personal page. ING Art Management has a fan page for example. This means that you won’t be promoting your new exhibition right after lamenting that you burnt the spaghetti.

2) Should I be on linkedin?

Linkedin is particularly relevant for business, so if you run your own company, or are a freelancer you should be on linkedin, it’s a question of reputation.

Linkedin offers ways of sharing content; you can connect to your blog, a slideshare presentation or display your portfolio.

It’s also worth looking for connections via the groups function, which does give you the opportunity to have a discussion in a ‘closed’ group, and the chance to email members of the group.

3) How can I share my work?

There are a lot of different tools out there; the easiest and most used one for images is flickr, on the site you can share your photos – including with a creative commons licence if you like – and you can contribute to relevant groups, or start your own.

Other tools worth considering to store your content are tumblr, wordpress or blogger or posterousyoutube.

Look for “post to many” options on tools, for example I can update my twitter and linkedin status at the same time – in fact I could update facebook at the same time but choose not to. Being smart about the content can save you time.


1) What content can I use?

Profile your work, update this often even if you draw on older works, perhaps saying how you’ve developed since creating that works.

Photographs , poems, stories or articles that inspire you.

Progress updates of your work – this is fascinating for a non-artist, particularly if you’re working on a bigger project

Behind the scenes – take the visitor through the creation of a work, perhaps as a slideshow or a video. This is really time intensive for you you but it would create a piece of content that could stay on your site/blog and be re-used regularly as showing how you work.


Mashable – good resource for discussion on the latest tools

Problogger – tips on writing, maintaining and thinking about content

PR squared – tips on promoting yourself online

Etsy – great resource of supplies and artists

Cool Hunting – a group blog promoting great design, get ideas on how to present your content.

Style Cowboys – a Dutch site about design, again with great ideas on presenting your content.

The summary of our advice stands – “Just do it” and “be yourself”. On reflection I’d add “connect”; connect to other artists, connect your content, connect your tools (to be more effective). Have fun!

What other tips would you add? Do you have other questions? Add a comment below.

image connection /Sara Lando/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Follow a Museum

Or rather #followamuseum. Today is Follow a Museum Day started by Museum Marketing.

A surprising number of museums are using twitter, certainly more than when I last looked into this for a presentation I gave in October, so today I created a twitter list of Dutch Museums so I can keep up with them. If you’re trying to find museums who tweet near you then followamuseum.com is the place to go.

It seems to have been a success, some museums made special offers for their new followers for example the Willet Holthuysen Museum, other museums (many!) thanked and welcomed their new followers, while the Afrika Museum thanked their followers and reported on the growth in their number of followers.

But there were some fails as well; not all museums reacted to the day, the fail whale for the Rijksmuseum. They’ve got 119 followers, but no tweets – not even one to thank those who started following them today.

A fail whale for the Rijksmuseum

Why start an account? If there is no strategy and no resources don’t go there.

Postscript: Thanks to @NickMoyes who pointed me to this tweet from Peter Gorgels who is the web manager at the Rijksmuseum. It seems their twitter account was hacked and it took around two months to get the account back – which they seem to have achieved on 29 January – although there are still no tweets on the account.

History via Twitter

The Guttenberg Tweet, from HistoricalTweets.com

There are lots of games or humour memes on twitter, my current favourite is “Historical Tweets“, and the above is one of my favourites of the favourites.

The basic premise is to encapsulate a historic moment in twitter’s 140 character limit, most, like this one, use the contrast of the historic moment and the modern technology to raise a laugh.

You can follow them on twitter, and you can submit your own attempt at a historical tweet.

Oh and there’s a book coming – but not until April 2010.

Hacked Twitter Account?

It’s happening to all the best people, even BBCClick announced with typical humour that their account had been hacked.

The best way you can prevent your account is to choose a complicated password; and if you’re worried about creating one that you can remember here’s how;

If your account is hacked, there are fairly simple steps you can take to claim it back – as outlined by the Efficiency Coach on her blog.

If you get spam DMs, or see nonsense tweets from a normally sensible twitter, contact them and let them know what to do to fix it. I’m off to toughen up my password.