I’m preparing a presentation on the European Online Public Sphere (see previous post in German). When I read on Twitter during the week that Jon used the #SOTEU (‘State of the European Union’) hashtag as a success story in one of his recent presentations, this reminded me of the relatively young history of the #EUCO (‘European Council’) – which I would like to use tomorrow.
As you can see above, my initial proposal for the hashtag in October 2010 included numbering the EUCO’s annually. Dana (back then working at the EU Council, now in the European Commission) was wise enough just to use and promote the basic #EUCO in the end instead of the longer and more complicated version I had proposed. It’s definitely this simplicity and shortness that has made the actual success of the hashtag.
As far as I remember, the very first use of the #EUCO for the October European Council in 2010 was not a big deal. The hashtag only gained track after Jon tried to get it trending – and succeeded (I mean: really succeeded). Blogging about Twitter during European Councils one year later, quite a number of EU journalists with different nationalities were using the hashtag already, but as you can see in the comments of that post, not all did so yet.
These days, the hashtag has kind of established itself in a wider circle, with 5000 tweets/day during the European Council on 22-23 November 2012 as measured by Topsy.com:
The #EUCO hashtag is quite clearly associated with the European Council by now, and the chart above leaves no doubt when it was happening this November. Trying the same with “Barroso“, European Council President van Rompuy on Twitter (“@euhvr“) or “Merkel” clearly shows the distinctiveness of “#EUCO” to structure conversations and tweeting about the European Council as a special event.
There are very likely many more conversations about European Councils on Twitter where #EUCO is not used, but the use of the hashtag is a quite explicit choice of those who would like to be part of a common European conversation about this political event. 5000 tweets/day is still not huge (if you look at the figures on the mentioning of “Merkel” in comparison), but taking into account that almost nobody knew what “#EUCO” was two years ago, this shows that the European Online Public Sphere has clearly moved to a higher level since then.
It will be interesting to see whether the European Parliament elections 2014 will trigger an even wider common European conversation than that we can see around #EUCO today. I remember quite well the rather limited community of people tweeting with the hashtags #eu09, #ep09 or #ue09 three years ago (see also Michailidou/Trenz 2010 on the EP elections 2009 on the web, p. 8).
If the European Parliament elections 2014 will be huge, this could bring also the common conversations about them in the online public sphere to a new level – and setting a common hashtag such as as #eu14 early on will probably help to structure the discussions into one bigger debate.