Should We Customize the SQLSaturday Hashtag on Twitter?

The question was posed on Twitter recently (or perhaps more along the lines of “why can’t we”), suggesting that our current/default hashtags of something like #sqlsat151 might be more useful and more marketing friendly as #sqlsatorl or #sqlsatorlando. I thought I’d share some thoughts in longer form than Twitter allows, keeping in mind that Kendal Van Dyke is the decider these days as the owner of the SQLSaturday portfolio for PASS.

Back in the early days of SQLSaturday I tried to set repeatable and useful patterns, and of those one of the best ideas (not mine) was to include the event number in the event title to show velocity. Incredibly effective in my view, and so it was soon incorporated into all things SQLSaturday, including the Twitter hashtag. I’m sharing that so you can see the mindset, which was data driven and velocity focused, not necessarily usefulness driven. In my own defense I think I did put the tag in a column so it could be modified if needed!

The pattern is important, but is it always important? I think numbering on the site is important, using the SQLSaturday site is important, but when I get to the hashtag, I think it’s less important and one of those places where an initial default doesn’t mean it was or is a good pattern. My thought is that as long as we stick to the #sqlsat prefix,adding text instead of the number is an easy win. Maybe some events will go with the number suffix,maybe some will use the city or airport code, and I can definitely see where it would make sense to use the state or country name for locales that only have one SQLSaturday each year.  Potentially we could even do multiple tags; “#sqlsatflorida #sqlsatorlando”.

Things could go wrong. Maybe cities with the same name. Or multiple events in a state and one wants to use #sqlsatstatename. I think we can figure those out if or when they happen, not sure we need any rules, just commonsense. Not sure this is a good idea? Try it for a few events and see. Think about how to measure success so you can come to a final decision.

At the risk of aggravating all involved, I’ve got a couple thoughts on the Twitter discussion:

  • Twitter isn’t the easiest place to communicate, sometimes email or a call will get things to a conclusion faster and better
  • It’s hard to know what things are ok and what aren’t – when do you break with tradition?
  • Usually not everyone agrees, so the key is to make sure both (all) sides are heard and understood

In the end I come down on the side of being in favor of experimenting and taking measured risks, combined with as few rules as possible. Lots of gray in there, and hard to know, so try things and see.