Back in the day the 24-hour Twitter event was groundbreaking. But have they moved on? And what do they need to do?
by Dan Slee
I’ve been thinking for a while that 24-hour Twitter events have driven up a bit of a cul-de-sac.
You know the sort of thing. An organisation tweets what it is doing for 24-hours and shines a light on unsung heroes. You learn things you didn’t know and then the timeline moves on.
Back in 2011, I was part of an award-winning team at Walsall Council that ran this first one in local government called #walsall24. We encouraged teams from across the council from 6am to join in. There was a countryside ranger talking about what she was doing, scheduled road repairs and events at libraries.
We created a wall of noise and we didn’t even bother to tell the local papers. We just did it. It was the first time it felt like we siezed the channels off production and just did ikt ourselves. I’m still hugely proud of that.
We wanted #walsall24 to be like an Atari ZX81 game. Amazing at the time but quickly outdated. A social Pong, in other words. Pong being the basic computer tennis game with two lines anfd a ball. I’d been thinking just lately that this model hadn’t moved on all that much.
Answering the ‘So what?’ question
The big question that any such event should face is ‘So what?’
In other words, you did all this, but what has changed?
Ideally, what did people do that made a difference? Maybe even how this saved money.
Two impressive grassroots campaigns
Two things just recently have impressed me. Firstly, the #Iminworkjeremy hashtag. Something which evolved ad hoc without organising. This was prompted by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s comments that consultants don’t work at weekends. So, working consultants tweeted pictures of themselves working. It was Twitter at its best.
The obvious ‘so what?’ of that is to challenge a statement and to reach out to others who are in the same boat.
The second thing that impressed was the Remember Srebrenica campaign in the UK which has strives to ask people to remember the genocide of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys murdered by Serbs in the bloody Balkans civil war. It was a simple ask. Pledge that you’ll remember them and an online and offline campaign co-incided beautifully.
NHS and commscamp
Several weeks back Amanda Nash pitched a great session at commscamp where she crowdsourced ideas for an NHS-wide event. She and others will make a success of it whatever they do. They’ll find solutions and make it fly.
The session spoke of the need to let people inside and outside the NHS join in. It also mentioned that sometimes they may need to shadow staff to give a flavour of what they are doing.
But I wonder, is there an NHS thing that can galvanise people, bring people together and make an appreciable difference?
Is there a pledge? A call to action? A promise? Something that answers the ‘so what?’ question?
But at the same time, keep it simple.
That’s for those doing it to work out and for the people behind houjsing day and any social event.
Answer the 'so what' question and you can move mountains.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.