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The days the #EUCO hashtag was born (and starting the #eu14 hashtag)

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

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.

5 Responses to The days the #EUCO hashtag was born (and starting the #eu14 hashtag)

  1. avatar Joan says:

    At @VoteWatchEurope, we’ve been using #EP2014 for the past months :)

  2. avatar Ron says:

    Every character you can save is good. :) #ep14 or #eu14 seem to be the frontrunners seeing the discussions on twitter.

  3. avatar Karen says:

    I agree that #EP14 or #EU14 is shorter, but I’ve seen #EP2014 used a lot, so I took to using that. Now it seems I need to be using all 3 for a while.

  4. avatar Ronny Patz says:

    I actually don’t mind what hashtag will be used. I wrote this blog post almost six months ago, so it wasn’t me who brought the discussions up again… :) If in the meantime a “consensus” has/had emerged on what to use, that would have been in line with the argumentation of this blog post.

    In fact, I didn’t even argue about why I chose #eu14 as this was more about the #EUCO hashtag. During the last EP elections, I also used and argued for the #ep09 hashtag but I realised back then (and the Topsy statistics seem to confirm this) that #eu09 got a much better traction.

    I think #ep14, #eu14 and their roman language equivalents #pe14, #ue14 may work better in the end because people will use second hashtags for specific candidates, or parties, or topics, in their tweets and having a short general one may fit better the limitations of 140 characters.

    But probably it won’t matter because the elections will be discussed on Youtube, LinkedIn, and Facebook (or The Next Big Thing) much more relevantly than on Twitter. Who knows. :)

  5. avatar Karen says:

    In many ways a discussion about which hashtag to use is much ado about nothing as long as one is aware that there is more than just one that people use. Otherwise you might end up cutting yourself out of interesting conversations

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