Things naturally happen on the Commons. Someone posts about an upcoming event, a job opening, a conference proposal, etc. As a community facilitator, I then take that information and try to share it with as many folks as possible using social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Why do I do this, well obviously to entertain and edify, but to also help build community and generate awareness around the Commons itself.
What makes the Commons great are our members, so promoting what they do is something that I both enjoy and look forward to. There is always something interesting going on around the site, and while it is relatively simply for members to engage around any particular activity, they might not know about it until they see it appear on their Twitter feed. That is why I don’t see other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as competition. Sure, they have a lot more users than the Commons ever will (so there’s really no competition anyway), but they serve different purposes – and different audiences.
While I cannot speak much on the numerous other ways that CUNYites get their information (i.e. – Google Groups, Diigo Groups, listservers, Blackboard, etc.), I can speak a little about a nifty feature of Twitter (and more recently Google+) that allows users to connect to information and people. I speak, of course, of the #hashtag. If I had to pick the number one reason why I prefer to use Twitter to get information is simply because it’s relatively easy to find specific information using hashtags. Just as entering search terms in a search engine can yield results via the World Wide Web; hashtags allow Twitterers to access real-time tweets around a particular person, place, or thing. And, since most people’s tweets include hyperlinks, you typically have access to a plethora of diverse resources.
When I post on Twitter and Google+ (get with the times Facebook!), I can categorize certain posts with hashtags such as #cunyevents or #helpwanted so folks know what the post is all about. And, by clicking on the hyperlinked hashtag, they can access other tweets that include the hashtag. Likewise, if I want to search for upcoming conferences I can type #cfp into the Twitter search bar and add deadlines to my Google calendar for the conferences that spark my interest. By clicking on a hashtag, you can also connect with the people whose tweets include that hashtag. For example, by clicking on a conference hashtag you can meet people that you normally wouldn’t have connected with face-to-face.
By using the site tweetstats.com, I was able to determine the top five hashtags of the @cunycommons: #cunyevents, #cunyit, #helpwanted, #cfp, #cunydhi. I was also able to create a HashCloud image based on an aggregation of tweets from the @cunycommons Twitter account. (OK, I really like word clouds and wanted an excuse to post an image.)
Did your hashtag make the list?