As a publication founded within the home town of Nottingham, it was safe to say we didn't expect to see such a place become one of the top trending cities on Twitter.
And then you see #NottinghamRocks at the top of the list in your browser, and feel what has been a long lost sense of pride for the place you have lived and creatively thrived within. After over 15,000 tweets mentioning the hashtag, a huge amount of local community, business and celebrity support, May 29th 2012 became quite a social day for the city. But far from being a coincidental event, this fascinating movement was brought together by businessman Tony Bates, who brought forward all the sometimes unseen efforts and achievements of Nottingham and put them in front of the world, in the space of 24 hours.
We asked him about reasons why he would pursue this; but also questioned deeper into his social media strategy. Our interview with the man who got Nottingham trending goes as follows...
New Rising Media: How did you come to the idea of getting Nottingham trending?
Tony Bates: It all started with an idle tweet on a quiet Tuesday morning but after a brief tweet conversation with Jo Dean of the Nottingham CVS, with whom we agreed to set a date in three days time, which local MP Lilian Greenwood then declared was “officially” Get Nottingham Trending Day (April 20th). Whilst this didn’t work I was prompted to try again, with more time and preparation on May 29th.
NRM: What did you aim to achieve from this campaign, beyond getting Nottingham trending in the UK?
TB: To reignite local passion for the city and spread this to the UK and maybe even the world, the legacy being an end to a long period of negativity.
NRM: What 'parts of the plan' did you have in place to push the word out onto social media about Get Nottingham Trending Day?
TB: We build a following on a bespoke Twitter account, had the full support of the Nottingham Post, had a website, social media specialist support, good coverage from Radio Nottingham, the official backing of Nottingham City Council and many other organisations and companies, a banner campaign and announcements on Nottingham City Transport buses.
NRM: How many mentions of the hashtag were there by the end of the day?
TB: Around 16,000. And how does that compare to what the city normally achieves? #Nottingham usually gets around 3,500.
NRM: How do you feel about the huge amount of local community engagement this received across Nottingham?
TB: The excitement this caused on the day was amazing and way beyond what I could ever have expected. Nottingham remembered its pride.
NRM: What do you feel was the most effective part of your efforts, that really got the word of #NottinghamRocks out there?
TB: Building the Twitter account following to almost 2500 by the day.
NRM: Any plans for the future of the city on Twitter?
TB: As a result of the campaign there will be a Festival of Nottingham later this year, fully supported by Twitter.
NRM: What advice would you give to someone looking to leverage the power of social media like this?
TB: It’s hard to think of an alternative media as fast moving as this but it is vital you think and act very quickly as seize the moment.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.