This short post is mainly about #cake.
#cake was created by my friend as a treat for his developer buddies. It was a chocolate cake with the words #cake written onto it. I say was because I believe it has now disappeared into the bellies of aforementioned developers.
Hashtags and surfing twitter feeds
However the key bit for journalists is not the calorie count but the fact that I found this out through searching popular hashtags and looking at trends amongst my twitter feeds.
While most people are talking about #Newmoon or #googlewave on twitter I noticed that the phrase #cake was repeatedly appearing in my friends twitter feeds, and in the feeds of his friends.
Hashtags lead to good stories
Now the fact that my friend can pipe icing onto a cake in a funny way is not something that is worthy of a breakfast news bulletin, but as Twitter grows in popularity more campaign groups and companies are using it to spread their messages.
This means that in the same way that a journalist listens in a pub to the locals to try and understand his/her audience, so they should surf Twitter and #hashtags to follow trending conversations in their patch.
For example in Southampton there is a big campaign developing on the university campuses which neither the Daily Echo or BBC Solent have yet picked up on. More and more students are starting to use the hashtag #savesotonchap in response to a viral campaign to save the Southampton University Chaplin.
This campaign and others are being coordinated through this website . Looking through the lists of hashtags it shows how easy it is for a journalist to keep on top of any campaigns developing in their areas, and to develop conversations with their audiences around certain hastags.