Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Detroit Stand Up Comic Jeff Dwoskin Launches Twitter Hashtag Games App

Twitter, the social network known for its 140 character limitation, has been in the news a lot lately. Much of the media attention has certainly been driven by President-Elect Donald Trump who tweeted his way to an election victory over the past year. Trump will, no doubt, be the first President to tweet his thoughts and policy decisions without a filter on social media when he takes over the @Potus Twitter handle on January 20.

The other reason Twitter has been making headlines in recent months has more to do with the company that was founded a decade ago in San Francisco. Created by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass, the company today is valued at around $10 billion; far less than its $40 billion valuation just three years ago. While Twitter has over 300 million monthly active users, many have questioned its health. Further, businesses have long been concerned that Twitter doesn't provide marketing value the way other social networks do.

Detroit Stand Up Comic Jeff Dwoskin of Twitter Hashtag Roundup
Jeff Dwoskin, an entrepreneur, stand up comedian and creator of Twitter's Hashtag Roundup

One local Metro Detroit stand up comedian and businessman is positioned to change that. The Internet is no stranger to Jeff Dwoskin of West Bloomfield. Over twenty years ago, Dwoskin, together with his brother Jonathan and another business partner, launched Online Marketing Company, an internet development company that was quickly sold to USWeb. Today, the 46-year-old has been taking the Twitter world by storm and making the social network relevant again by infusing it with his creativity and comedy.

Dwoskin was not always a major player in the Twitter network. In 2012 we were sitting together at an Anti-Defamation League conference in Washington D.C. waiting for a speaker to take the stage. I saw Dwoskin posting another funny joke to his Facebook profile from his laptop computer and I asked him why he wasn't more active on Twitter. I explained that as a comedian, he would draw a much larger following on Twitter and enjoy much more engagement with his audience. I gave him some tips to grow his Twitter following and over the next year he quickly took his Twitter activity to new levels.

Dwoskin's @BigMacher Twitter account went from about 1,000 followers at that time to more than 43,000 followers today. His humorous tweets are now retweeted hundreds of times and are frequently mentioned in mainstream media publications and websites. In September Dwoskin made it to the top position of Evan Carmichael's list of Detroit's Top 100 Twitter users. The official Detroit Red Wings Twitter account jumped back into the top spot, but last month Dwoskin's new endeavor, @HashtagRoundup, found itself in the second spot on the list with Dwoskin's personal Twitter account at #3. Suffice it to say, Dwoskin has become a Twitter guru, built a significant following, and is now revolutionizing the way people use the social network.

Hashtag Roundup came about after Dwoskin realized the popularity of the Hashtag Wars game started by the Comedy Central TV show "@Midnight." The show's host Chris Hardwick announces a hashtag and then Twitter users have to create funny responses to it with one winner's tweet being mentioned on the show later that night. The first hashtag game he played was #MakeAMovieJewish, and from that moment the comedian was hooked. Dwoskin used his quick wit and creative humor to play this game daily and then began creating his own hashtag games for others on Twitter. Eventually, he came up with @HashtagRoundup in November 2014.

This month, Dwoskin, together with his wife Robyn and business partner Scott Fischler of California, launched the Hashtag Roundup mobile app for iOS and Android. Remarkably, the endeavor creates over 200 top trending hashtags each month, meaning the Hashtags Dwoskin and his partners come up with are almost guaranteed to be among the top ten trending terms on Twitter in the United States (and sometimes in other countries). Major international brands began contacting Dwoskin in amazement that his hashtags were on the trending list multiple times a day and said they would love to have even one of their hashtags on the trending list once in a month.

With the mobile app, users receive a notifications at game time (even if they're not using Twitter at that moment) and they then copy the hashtag and begin to tweet. Recent games on Hashtag Roundup have included #ZenAFilm, #FakeAstrologyFacts, #PunctuateFilmTVOrSong and #NotGreatProducts. Each month these hashtags are included in millions of tweets and over 7 billion Twitter timelines are reached.

Now, Dwoskin regularly works with major companies and brands for promotion using his hashtag games. He found that a lot of companies don't know how to effectively use Twitter to their benefit, so drawing on the success of his hashtag games, Dwoskin now works directly with the marketing departments of these companies to help them apply their voice to Twitter. In addition to large for-profit companies and television shows, he's also begun working with organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and the Surgeon General who want to sponsor the game's hashtags on Twitter.

For this marketing maven and stand up comic, Facebook just wasn't doing it for him. He realized that Facebook was fine for posting family photos and political rants, but he wasn't able to develop an engaged audience for his pop culture wit on the social network. Turning to Twitter, Dwoskin found his base -- people around the world plugged into the zeitgeist who were eager to engage in quick, fun games to show off their cleverness and humor. While many will continue to question the value of Twitter, Dwoskin has found his niche and will continue to tweet his way to fame with his creative hashtag games.

Originally published in the Detroit Jewish News

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