When a housing comms officer wondered if a Twitter event about public housing would work he floated the idea on Twitter and sought support. It painted a picture of the work that went on in the sector and the people who work in it. And yes, it worked with the #housingday hashtag trending on Twitter.
By Adrian Capon
On 13 November the UK Housing industry used 140 characters to tweet about the work that goes on every day, singing off a single hash tag hymn sheet - #HousingDay
In the build up to the day, there was significant support and promotion from across the housing UK Twitter universe. Announcements were made on Comms2Point0 and our Yorkshire Housing Communications team blog. The media via Guardian Housing, 24 Dash, and Inside Housing featured the day. The National Federation of Housing, Chartered Institute of Housing, Northern Housing Consortium and Tenants Advisory Service proceeded the day with tweets and emailing news about the day to members.
It’s fair to say they got right behind #HousingDay.
How far did tweets travel?
First of all, let’s look at the numbers.
Based on local government’s #ourday 2012 – 10,161 tweets reached a potential audience of 768,227 people. And 3,967 accounts tweeted or retweeted the updates.
This year’s #ourday achieved 11,000 tweets which reached a potential audience of 3 million, from 3,500 contributors.
#HousingDay achieved 10,045 tweets on 13 November 2013. It reached a potential audience of 1.8 million people, from 2,625 contributors and had 11.6 million exposures. (Source: TweetReach).
This is a useful guide for an understanding of TweetReach definitions.
Identifying and engaging influencers summary
Top contributors’ shows the top Twitter accounts talking about #HousingDay. @JRF_UK earned the highest number of impressions from their tweets promoting the day with 676,997. Followed by @CommunitiesUK (449,093) and @YHousing (274,299). The largest individual accounts were @Jonpopham (202,429), @nickatkin_hht (171,372) and @AsifChoudry (155,865).
What do these numbers mean? Exposure is the total number of times a tweet is delivered to Twitter streams, or the overall number of impressions generated. A high exposure means that account has a lot of followers, and tweets from that account were delivered to lots of other Twitter accounts.
But more importantly – what was tweeted?
We aimed to celebrate the work of housing organisations up and down the country. Even tweeting about the most trivial activity will show the difference we make and sometimes life changing impact we have. We have produced a Storify from the day. And given the volume of activity only presents a snapshot, using those posts with mainly photos as the story line.
A quick scan through the list of tweets quickly shows the range of activities: homelessness and rough sleepers, housing fraud, young leaders experience, improving health and wellness for older people, servicing gas boilers, helping people find a home, fire risk assessments, free money and debt advice, administration, customer service, IT department, customer stories in their own words, inspecting new build schemes, welfare reform, recruitment interviews, supporting families at risk of eviction due to anti-social behaviour, handy person schemes, residential, supporting migrants, partnership working, staff induction sessions, showing tenants around new flats, recruiting tenant volunteers to become digital champions, helping tenants overcome barriers to employment, sending out annual digital reports, creating jobs and training, supporting apprenticeships, job fair, and home swap event. The list is not exhaustive.
Record tweets made
#HousingDay started to trend on UK Twitter at 8.02am, shortly after trending in Liverpool, Leeds and London.
The final day’s tweet was made by Robin Ridgley (@RobRidgley) who summed up the day nicely – ‘what an awesome day for #UKHousing, just imagine what we could do if we kept this going.’
What are my takeaways?
It was a great experience to move an idea to reality and a brilliant day. Each tweet building a real buzz and sense of excitement. Reading other contributors posts I feel they also felt proud to hear the heart warming stories and the personal contributions each one of us makes.
The idea was simple. The support from the whole sector was tremendous and exceeded my expectations. As the timeline developed more and more tweets started to tell the housing story, sharing tenants’ views and the impact we are together having on their lives. It is the unique sense of social purpose that unites and binds us. A powerful and emotive trigger we need to pull more on.
It was also useful for those with experience of twitter and those new to Twitter to make new connections and tighten those bonds. I believe we can build momentum and change the story of UK Housing.
The day achieved to show case the brilliant and unsung work that goes on. We have a good story to tell in housing; we can continue to be passionate and proud to tell it.
- Creating a national supported campaign – gave it credibility for other staff to get involved and wanting to join Twitter to be part of it.
- First ever time that housing trended on Twitter. Shows the power that 1,000 individual tweets an hour can trend and create awareness.
- By working together on single campaign issues we can harness the power of Twitter to have impact. The day has put a marker down to learn and build upon.
- Created a massive buzz and excitement across the day for those involved and those sharing in it. Many feeling proud of their contributions.
- I believe, along with other communication practitioners that the true power will lie in local by social – having people, particularly customer facing spearhead our engagement with local networked communities. Although written for local government in 2010 – I would urge the housing sector to read this publication produced by Nesta.
- What else could this approach be used for? I see nothing wrong with blazing the trail here for others as well as themselves. Everything has to start somewhere. Same again next year 14.11.14?
Thank you for your support - without it I am sure the day wouldn't have been a success.
Adrian Capon works in the Yorkshire Housing communications team.