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Tweets connect Pittsburghers with the world, each other in 5 words

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, May 27, 2015, 3:31 p.m.

Describe summer in five words.

Then share it with more than 300 million people.

Seem silly? It is, but that's why the hashtag #MySummerin5words spread like a heat wave.

Nearly 50,000 people shared their summer plans in five words on Twitter on Wednesday, including folks around Pittsburgh.

“Oh god, I'm so bored. #MySummerin5words,” tweeted Angelica Walker, 18, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh living in Downtown and missing friends who left town for the summer.

To bring the uninitiated up to speed: Twitter is a social media platform that limits posts to 140 characters. People use hashtags — a # symbol followed by a word or phrase — to include their tweet in a universe of similarly themed tweets. Tag a tweet with the hashtag #pghtraffic, and it will join the conversation of people grumbling about traffic around the city.

“It's fun,” said Heather Starr Fiedler, an associate professor of multimedia at Point Park University. “The very definition of social media is to connect with other people and to find things in common.”

Starr Fiedler said part of the reason a benign hashtag about summer plans — or its trending counterparts #5WordWeddingToast and #ItsAGoodMorningBecause — becomes popular is that it offers a look into other people's lives around a common theme.

“It lets us see it on a personal level,” she said, “whether our summer is a Kim Kardashian summer, where we're spending it on a yacht, or whether we're spending our summer in a classroom trying to finish college.”

Starr Fiedler said her summer in five words is “Spend time with my kids.”

Companies used the hashtag to promote brands. The North Face tweeted, “Taking every opportunity to explore,” a five-word riff on its slogan, “Never stop exploring.” The athletic clothing company Under Armour tweeted, “We don't take vacation days.”

Locally, GetGo, Giant Eagle's gas station arm, tweeted, “GetGo coffee and GetGo subs” for its summer in five words. NuGo Nutrition, an Oakmont-based health bar company, tweeted, “Have fun and eat healthy.”

Tori Mistick, owner of Marketing with Style and a social media consultant for Pittsburgh-area small businesses, said playing with trending hashtags can help companies relate to customers.

“Social media, I always tell people, you just have to treat it like a party. You want to be fun and engaging, and you just can't talk about yourself and what you're selling all the time,” Mistick said. “I wouldn't say participating in this hashtag will make your month, but it's just a fun thing to do.”

Lindsay Patross, who blogs about Pittsburgh at www.iheartpgh.com and runs the popular Twitter account, @iheartpgh, said she starts hashtags with the hope they spread a conversation about the city. She tried to popularize #votepgh last week during the primary election and hashtags about shopping local, none of which has spread.

This past December, however, she started the hashtag #PGHSavesXmas to call attention to a toy shortage at Toys for Tots. The hashtag spread around the country, Patross said, and donations and offers to help poured in.

“These hashtags can be really powerful,” she said.

Patross' plans for the summer: “Mon, Ohio, Allegheny & Jail Trail,” she tweeted.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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