I had a great (and exhausting) time at the Internet Technology Summit on Wednesday — I was thrilled to host/emcee the event on behalf of Growing Bolder, especially because it gave me a chance to meet some amazing people like:
I learned a lot about what goes into putting on an event of this size and scope, and overall — it was a success. The speakers had a lot of really great insights on technology today and technology of the future. I was able to spread the story of how one 89-year-old woman became a viral video star (“Romancing the Road“). And people all over the Central Florida area were able to come together to prove that we’re a growing community of smart, ambitious people.
There was just one problem. And I think it’s a lesson we can all learn when it comes to thinking things through.
(Keep in mind that while I had no role in planning this event, I really respect the hard work that went into it!)
The event planners chose the hashtag #ITS2011 for promoting the conference, and had collateral printed up and posted all over the room, encouraging people to share their thoughts. They did — but so did others. Because it turns out, the event actually highjacked a hashtag that was in use.
Look again at #ITS2011 — which in the event’s case, stood for “Internet Technology Summit 2011.” But given so many people’s love for using hashtags as commentary, #ITS2011 also makes sense as “it’s 2011.”
Which led to these tweets mingling in (and even getting posted on a big, live screen):
Those are just a few of the examples, and the PG-13 ones at that.
Hugely embarrassing? It could have been, had this been a conference about Twitter, or had the hashtag been more actively used in the event. Hilarious? To me, yes.
Lessons to learn:
- Always search Twitter to see if your hashtag has been used before
- Read your hashtag aloud to make sure it doesn’t inadvertently sound or look like something else (double entendres?)
- Have someone else look at the hashtag, too
- If you announce a hashtag and find out later that you’re actually highjacking someone else’s use of it, consider changing it — even if it means having to do a bit of mea culpa work