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#hashtag lessons from the Women's Marches

written by: Susan Mumford Jan. 22, 2017 Sunday blog - The art world in bite-sized stories 1326 views

#hashtag lessons from the Women's Marches

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On 21st January 2017, approximately 700 “Women’s Marches”* took place around the globe, with representation on all continents. As an outspoken gender equalist, I joined the event in London, England, along with 80,000 – 100,000 others, including many “misters for sisters” (as one sign read), and people across the age and ethnic spectrum.  

Reflecting upon the occasion, I concluded that the use of social media for such a momentous occasion** teaches us important lessons in using social media today for everyday use.  

After arriving at Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, having squeezed through jam-packed crowds of thousands thanks to sheer will and determination, I had an immediate question: “What hashtag is being used?”*** As no one in the group had a clear answer, I searched online to see what was being used. There seemed to be confusion on the social media front, and I eventually concluded that the best hashtag for the London march was #womansmarchlondon and the one for events taking place across the globe was #womensmarch. Though the difference in singular and plural seemed odd, such inconsistency does happen, and it was important that I used the official hashtags. Why? Not only does this show you’re paying attention, your posts are also more likely to be discovered as people will be searching for the main hashtags.

The importance of using both hashtags came to mind when a friend started posting images, only using #womensmarch. He thought to use the main tag as it was being used worldwide in conjunction with the marches, noting that by evening time in London on 21st January (still afternoon in the States) the use of #womensmarch was automatically generating the emoji symbol for ‘female’ in tweets (see the example below). However, much like keywords in a search engine, this central hashtag was general, could be lost in the noise and might be getting in front of the wrong audience. In order to be noticed by people looking for the London event, along the lines of using a keyword phrase, he started to use both #womansmarchlondon (in addition to #womensmarch). So when I wanted to see the action from my home state’s march in Little Rock, I searched out the correct hashtag and concluded that #womensmarchlr was it.



[See the 'female' symbol after #womensmarch.]

What’s the lesson? Don’t be slapdash with the use of hashtags for events you attend! Do your research and use the official hashtags (as well as handles). And should there be sub-events in addition to a central occasion, be sure to use both in your own posts, enabling you to be part of the bigger occasion while also narrowing down the audience who finds your posts.

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* The Women’s March website, www.womensmarch.com, representing the central march in Washington, D.C., states the Mission & Vision as follows:

“We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

** According to this piece by Jason Easley in PoliticusUSA, Women’s March Is The Biggest Protest In US History As An Estimated 2.9 Million March, (21st January 2017).   

*** Best practice ahead of events where you’ll be partaking in social networking is researching relevant hashtags and @ handles (for organisers, venues, speakers and the like). Having them at the ready enables you to jump into action when it’s time.

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