Today we tried a bit of live twittering on an event – the State Opening of Parliament (read all our tweets). There were two web editors and a producer involved: writing text, checking text and shouting at the BBC coverage for not showing what we needed to know.

We prepared tweets and associated links in advance, trying to link back to our main site and Flickr and YouTube channels where we could. Inevitably we had to edit some messages down for length, change the tone, or jump in and do more off-the-cuff updates as things happened.

It would have been good to have created a microsite along the lines of Number 10’s G8 Summit site, but we didn’t really have the internal access to make it work. Maybe next year. Feedback on what we did was good overall, let us know what you thought in the comments below, or via Twitter, and whether you think it’s worthwhile doing an event microsite on State Opening or other parliamentary events like japang8.number10.gov.uk/ – or if you prefer having feeds from YouTube, Flickr, Twitter kept separate.

And a word on hashtags…

We added the hashtag #state08 to all of our tweets and invited our followers to do the same if they were commenting on, or asking us questions about State Opening.

Since Twitter acquired the search tool Summize, which has massively improved the ability to search Twitter effectively, there’s been some debate on the usefulness of hashtags, when keyword searching works well now. But we’ve found it a useful way of grouping information and responses together – I guess the essential thing is consistency with the hashtag or keyword you use and ask your followers to use. You can compare the search results and make your own mind up of which is better: using ‘state opening‘ and using ‘#state08‘.

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