Hashtags & Google Alerts

9th Feb 2012

It’s a funny old world. Last week my Dad made a photo book with an online publisher. It was simply for him and my Mum. A single copy. Within minutes of the book being ‘published’ I had an email in my inbox telling me about it. No, I wasn’t logged with the publisher. It’s a little but more sinister than that. I have signed up to Google Alerts so that whenever the word ‘Heason’ appears on a new webpage anywhere on the net I get an instant update! I use it to monitor people posting about my business. I called my Dad and congratulated him on his new book. He was rather taken aback that I knew anything about it. Makes the idea of a surprise present or part organised over the internet a little pointless I suppose.

I also have alerts set up for ShAFF and Cliffhanger, the two main events that I run. It’s invaluable getting to see when people blog about something I am doing. I usually then post a reference to it on my websites and Tweet it back at them, completing the loop and hoping that others will pick up on it in the process. It works really, really well. But it has its funny side too. ShAFF is not a unique acronym. In fact it appears to be a reasonably common surname, so every day there tends to be a few non festival related items to have to filter out. Some of these are quite amusing. There’s a politician in the States who made a bit of a fool of himself when he ordered a town’s drinking water reservoir to be completely emptied after somebody was caught on CCTV weeing into it! Then there was this one: Mouth-foaming robber arrested on Arden Way. A strange world indeed!

It’s all very well me monitoring for instances of ShAFF, Cliffhanger (that brings up so man references to Stallone’s film you’d be amazed, not to mention the number of references to film and TV programme endings), but it wouldn’t do to just re-tweet them to all my followers. They’d soon un-follow. That;s why I use hashtags to prefix stuff that I encourage people to follow. It doesn’t entirely eliminate the possibility of picking up on some random #ShAFF reference as you can’t secure exclusive use of a given hashtag for obvious reasons, but it certainly cuts down on them. If you’re interested in following any of the stuff that I do you could try these tags:

#shaffcwiff – a new one that I am promoting in conjunction with the Climbing Works who are organising their masters (the CWIF) on the same weekend as ShAFF again this year.
#cliffhanger – brings up quite a bit of unrelated stuff
#cliffhangersheffield – a lot more specific

Oh, if you're interested here's the archive of 'ShAFF' related Google Alerts since Jan 2011.