Following days of speculation, U2 have announced that due to an injury sustained by the band’s frontman Bono, they will no longer be able to perform their planned headline set at this year’s Glastonbury festival. Devastated, delighted or frankly ambivalent, the announcement itself is not the subject of this post (sorry U2 fans) but the emergence of a debate on Twitter about who should replace the band in this prestigious slot – all through the use of the hashtag #shouldheadlineglastonbury.
To utilise Twitter’s own definition – "A hashtag is similar to other web tags- it helps add tweets to a category. Hashtags have the 'hash' or 'pound' symbol (#) preceding the tag, like so: #traffic, #followfriday, #hashtag."
The creation of the #shouldheadlineglastonbury hashtag traces to Lauren Laverne’s Twitter account @laverneshow for her BBC 6 Music radio show.
Following an announcement on the official Glastonbury website, and subsequent Twitter announcement from festival organiser Emily Eavis at around 12 noon, Laverne tweeted “Ok Twitter. U2 are out. Who #shouldheadlineglastonbury ?”
Within an hour, I spotted the hashtag on Twitter’s UK trending listings.
Whilst the creation of a hashtag is nothing remarkable in itself,
what’s interesting here is how quickly this particular tag gathered
momentum. For a Twitter account with only a relatively modest following
of c. 15,000 followers (we’re not exactly talking Stephen Fry or Ashton
Kutcher proportions here), the speed at which the Glastonbury hashtag
propagated and starting trending is quite impressive.
Even Laverne herself seemed surprised at how quickly the hashtag had caught on:
Also, unlike the majority of popular hashtags, this is a real-time example of creation and propagation. We don’t always get to trace back the origins of hashtags – usually only cottoning on to them when the people we follow use them or we see them in the trending topics.
What appears to have made this particular hashtag popular is that whether you’re a Glastonbury regular or have never been to the festival, you can have an opinion on this topic. Consider #NoLongerWantTicketToGlastonbury or #SellingGlastoTicketNowNoU2 as alternatives and the vastly narrowed responses these might have evoked.
Also interesting and slightly disappointing is that this is an opportunity for generating a conversation with their audience that Glastonbury themselves clearly missed.
At the time of submitting this post, the #shouldheadlineglastonbury is trending at number 2 for UK tweets. Track the progress of the hashtag over the coming days here
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