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Special Event Hashtag for Resource-Routing

Aspiration just got back from Barcelona, Spain working with Mozilla to put on the 2010 Drumbeat Festival around the intersection between Open Education and the web. It was a blast filled with people from around the world, Serrano ham and a lot (possibly too much) Spanish espresso. One of the things that we helped with was the social media surrounding the event. In addition to having our standard Social Media for Events methods in play for the Mozilla Drumbeat accounts, we also introduced the idea of using social media for “resource routing” during the event itself.

Drumbeat Logo

So imagine the event. 400 people running around three different venue buildings, learning about open education and the open web. On top of that, 20-30 volunteers and staff trying to stay on top of something that by design was chaotic.

How do these people get the help that they need when they need it?

Enter #drumhelp, our tag for routing help and resources to those who needed them.

It worked like this. The Drumbeat festival used the standard Mozilla Drumbeat hashtag #drumbeat for the standard tag of the event so that people could tag their tweets, photos and posts and be found in the festival stream. On top of that, we introduced #drumhelp for organizers and partcipants who needed help throughout the event. The idea was that the feed for #drumbeat was going to be overflowing with tweets and posts so if we had some way to pull out the questions/problems (i.e. another tag for just help) we could better address them. If someone needed a supply, more information, to find out where something/someone was or was just lost, they could tweet a question and tag it #drumhelp. Then, I, who was monitoring the RSS feed for #drumhelp through the Drumbeat Social Media Dashboard, saw the tweet and then routed the question/problem to the appropriate person. And, believe it or not, it actually worked out surprisingly well.


I was monitoring the feed and anytime someone would tweet a question or problem, I would either Retweet the question from the official Drumbeat Twitter account if it was something that the community might be able to help with (e.g. “#drumhelp Desperately seeking dongle (mini DVI) in Storming the Academy tent. Need to connect a Mac to a projector. Help?”) or use my walkie talkie to route the question/problem to the appropriate person.

This worked well for this event for a few reasons:

  • A large proportion of the event participants were on Twitter
  • The organizers/staff/those in charge were linked through walkie-talkies
  • We had the staff capacity to both monitor the #drumhelp feed and do runs to solve the problems

Overall, I found #drumhelp a great addition to a social media strategy for a large event. We were able to solve a lot of problems very quickly and keep them out of the hair of the higher-ups who had more important fires to put out. In addition, it’s just fun to look back at the tag’s stream and remember what was going on throughout the event. 😀

Have you tried anything like this for your event? What was your experience?

Would this technique be feasible at your events? Why or why not?

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