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Torch Tweets - Hashtags

For the past week I've been following the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay around the country through the text, pictures and video posted on Twitter by local authorities, the Police and other agencies. This page displays a timeline of live content and you can use it to follow the Relay as it progresses.

Initially I did this to prepare for when the Relay reaches Berkshire, as then the live page will display content from local organisations and residents, or Torch Tweeters as we're calling them; you can read more about this here. It has however given me an invaluable insight into how social media is being used to cover this event.

Over the next few weeks I'll post my observations and my first is on hashtags.

Despite being a national event (international if you include Dublin) I couldn't find any attempt to join everything up on Twitter. Some counties have sensibly used a common hashtag, #GlosTorchRelay for instance was used to tie together all the tweets from the Police, district and county councils in Gloucestershire but there seems to be no one hashtag throughout all the areas the Relay visits.

This might have something to do with the main hashtag used by @London2012 being so long, #London2012TorchRelay takes up a lot of characters so some have shortened it to #TorchRelay or have used #OlympicTorch or #OlympicTorchRelay.

Those who are using other hastags are generally adopting phrases suggested by LOCOG such as #linethestreets and #momenttoshine and the former has been also used by @London2012. These are great for traditional press releases but can create confusion when used as hashtags.

Some councils used one hashtag in one tweet, another in a subsequent tweet and yet another in a following tweet. People often follow an event by searching for one specific hashtag rather than following all the accounts that might be tweeting about it so if you're using #London2012TorchRelay in some, and #linethestreets or #TorchRelay in others it's likely that some of your audience will miss quite a bit of your content.

So what have I learned? If you're creating an event, pick one reasonably short hashtag, stick with it and publicise what it is. If you're narrating someone else's event and they haven't or won't specify one, talk to others covering it and agree a common hashtag.

What are do you think of ths and the Olympic Torch Relay coverage in general on Twitter so far? I'd be interested to know and you can find me at @PhilRumens.


  1. Locog encouraged partners - council, police etc - to establish appropriate hashtags. We agreed on #OlympicTorch, adding a geographic tag: #NDevon, in our case. We stuck to that in the two weeks leading up to the day, on the day itself and afterwards.

    It got traction. #NDevon is already an established tag though #NorthDevon (too long) is used to a lesser degree. #OlympicTorch seemed to get a fair amount of use through Cornwall.

    However, in the last few days before, the local paper publicised #TorchNDevon. That made following more challenging.

    Conclusion: very difficult to control hashtags. But, there's scope to start using hashtags on all publicity: news releases, ads, stationery etc.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I was surprised that LOCOG didn't specify one hashtag to use given that they've stipulated quite a lot else media wise. You're right, it can be difficult to get everyone to use the same hashtags but many areas seem to have done a good job. #torchrelayworcs was used by most media, councils and other government agencies in that area for instance. It's just a bit disappointing it isn't joined up nationally.

      Adding a geographic tag is an interesting point. Only two tweets of the hundreds I've seen have had coordinates tweeted with them. Perhaps that's a post for next week.


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