The #BCSM Community continues to grow and expand its reach each and every day. With this increased exposure and use, now’s a great time to review some twitter hashtag basics and best practices for engaging with the #BCSM Community.
The #BCSM Community has grown from a simple conversation on Twitter to a global support community. In July 2011, when the first scheduled conversation took place on Twitter, the messages were tagged with the #BCSM hashtag. BCSM – Breast Cancer Social Media – was a way to tag these conversations in a meaningful way.
The 15 Second Twitter Lesson
At the heart of the #BCSM is the Twitter platform. Twitter is a real time messaging service that can be accessed from a web browser or a smart phone. Tweets are 140 character messages that are posted to the Twitter network. You don’t have to be a twitter user to view and read the twitter stream. With millions of tweets posted to the Twitter network everyday, a streamlined way to search for relevant information was needed. Enter the hashtag.
What is a Hashtag?
A hashtag is a way to mark a twitter post to make it very easy to search for messages relating to the tagged content. For example, if you were interested in finding other twitter users talking about hockey, you might search in twitter for tweets tagged #hockey. Hashtags help identify the subject of the content to make is easier for people to find information relevant to them. For an excellent review of how hashtags as meta tags came about, check out the comprehensive Wiki article on hashtags.
#BCSM – A Hashtag Community
To help others looking for breast cancer information, we launched #BCSM. This hashtag is a collection of relevant breast cancer information that’s shared on Twitter. However, the #BCSM designation goes one step further – it identifies a community of men and women looking to learn and share more information about all stages of breast cancer AND develop stronger networks of connections. When you share information using #BCSM, you’re immediately tapping into and connecting with a global audience that’s learned to search and follow this unique community.
We’ve already covered the origins of the #BCSM Chat in more detail. With this post, we hope to help shed light on the importance of building the #BCSM Community when we’re using the hashtag to share content for the other 167 hours a week we’re not meeting for a scheduled chat.
Respect the Hashtag
To help build the best community and catalog of information for the breast cancer community, the network needs to look for the best possible information to share using the hashtag. As the community grows and expands its reach, it’s important to consider the best way to share information. If you’re a breast cancer blogger, please share your posts and content by including the #BCSM hashtag. If you find a great article on breast cancer research, feel free to share that information too.
However, if you uncover information that could be considered sensationalist, inflammatory, or over-hyped, consider holding off from sharing that information with the larger community. Thinking about the value and context of information shared with the community will benefit us all.
Repeatedly sending tweets tagged with the #BCSM hashtag that have nothing to do with breast cancer decreases the value of the information and impacts the reputation of the whole community.
Best Practices for the #BCSM Hashtag
So, after numerous twitter chats, we’ve created the #BCSM Hashtag Best Practices Checklist:
1) Please DO share relevant, evidence-based articles and research reports on breast cancer treatments with the #BCSM. Please DO share blog posts written by you or others – we can all learn from one another.
2) When using the #BCSM hashtag, make sure you ask yourself, will this add value to the breast cancer community? Or will this information confuse the community?
3) If you represent your organization or corporation on Twitter and want to interact with the #BCSM community, feel free to do so. Make sure to introduce yourself to the community so we know who’s behind the brand! Tag relevant content with the #BCSM community, but don’t overly promote or spam the hashtag.
What would you add? Please let us know. Add your comments and thoughts, and join the #BCSM Conversation.