Ever since the hashtag appeared on Twitter for the first time in 2007, the crosshatch has become one of the most common symbols in the English language. The popularity of the hashtag has turned it into a powerful social media marketing tool. A well-chosen hashtag can become a highly successful part of your event-marketing strategy. As a bonus, it encourages people to promote your event through their own conversations.
How do you put together an effective event hashtag strategy that your guests actually want to engage with?
1. Choose the Right Hashtag
To get your hashtag to work hard for you, you need to pick the right one. It’s harder than it sounds! Before you brainstorm hashtag ideas, consider that your hashtag should be:
Unique: Ideally, your hashtag is one nobody else is currently using—and has never used before. You should especially avoid hashtags that have been used to promote other events or have been used by competitors. Verify that your hashtag is unique by checking the hashtag dictionary.
Memorable: A great event hashtag is easy to remember and is likely to be associated with your event even after it ends. The easier it is to remember, the more likely it is to get used. Keep it simple and short—no more than two or three words total. The Twitter character limit was doubled to 280 characters in 2017, but even so, shorter is better!
Relevant: Your hashtag should be relevant to your event. More than that, it should evoke your event in the minds of confirmed and potential guests.
Take the #OCCarshow, for example. There’s no mistaking that this hashtag refers to the Orange County Car Show. It’s the perfect choice because it’s short and simple, easy to remember, and related to the event. Even people who don’t know it’s the official hashtag of the Orange County Car Show might use it if they tweet about the event.
2. Promote Your Hashtag
No matter how well-crafted your event hashtag, it won’t work its magic if people don’t know about it. Make hashtag promotion part of your event-marketing plan by using your hashtag in every channel that can reach potential attendees.
This should include your:
- Social media channels
- Event website
And any marketing materials you send out on behalf of the event, including emails and printed materials. Use all the social media channels available to you: You can hashtag events not only on Twitter, but on Facebook and Instagram too. You also have the option to hashtag events on LinkedIn.
Give your hashtag to any exhibitors, VIPs, influencers, and speakers attending your event, and encourage them to use it whenever they talk about the event on their own social media channels. This broadens your audience easily and organically.
In addition to using your hashtag in all social media posts during the event, keep promoting it as well. Display it in multiple locations, including on banners, promotional items, and printed materials. You can even have MCs and speakers mention it!
3. Listen to Pre-Event Conversation
Once you deploy your hashtag, monitor the social media conversations that spring up around it. In the days and weeks leading up to the event, monitoring the conversation ensures you answer attendee questions or address their concerns speedily. If people have problems with any issue relating to the event, such as ticket sales or the event website, they may tweet at you using your hashtag. Keeping an eye on it ensures you resolve any problems quickly. This is not only useful for the person who posed the problem; it shows that you’re active and involved with your event when other potential attendees search the hashtag on social media.
Monitoring conversations about attendee’s specific concerns, needs, or desires for your event might even result in changes that make the event better!
4. Keep Listening During the Event
Your hashtag marketing strategy doesn’t end when the event is behind you. During an event, attendees love to use hashtags to offer their thoughts and feedback as they experience everything that’s going on. Exhibitors use event hashtags both to keep up with what’s happening and to promote their own trade show booths, widening your hashtag’s reach.
This gives you a valuable opportunity: You can monitor the buzz around your event in real time. You’ll get ongoing feedback about what the experience is like, both for attendees and exhibitors. And since people often take to Twitter to provide feedback when they have problems, this also gives you the chance to find out about small problems as they arise. You can solve them before they turn into bigger issues that might affect your reputation.
Monitoring hashtags also gives you the opportunity to improve the event as it happens. For instance, you might discover that a certain speaker or general session is more popular than you anticipated. By acting quickly, you could organize a second session that gives more people the chance to attend.
5. Build User Engagement
Before and during the event, monitoring a hashtag isn’t just about listening; it’s also about interacting. Using a hashtag for events provides you with a place to start building attendee engagement. This is perfect for engaging people who have already committed to attending. And for people who are undecided, any means of building engagement has the potential to tip the balance and convince them that they need to attend.
Within the space the hashtag creates, you have a wide range of options for engaging with users:
- Comment on content posted by people using the hashtag, for instance on Facebook or Instagram.
- Retweet people who use the hashtag on Twitter.
- Use the hashtag to start social media conversations or to join the conversation with others who are using it.
- Use the Repost app to repost photos and videos on Instagram.
Even after the event, comb through the hashtag for great posts, tweets, and user photos and videos to share on your business accounts and pages. This is a great source of consumer-generated content. It’s particularly valuable not just because it’s free, but because it’s a form of social proof. Authentic and positive content from real attendees is like marketing gold!
6. After the Event: Do Hashtag Analysis
Once your event is over, you can glean plenty of useful data by analyzing tweets, posts, and other content that uses your hashtag. Don’t limit your analysis to Twitter only. Facebook and Instagram will provide lots of valuable information too.
To get more value from your data and organize your information-gathering, use a hashtag-tracking tool such as hashtracking.com. It allows you to monitor hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, to get detailed information about who said what—and when—during your event.
Use hashtag tracking to find high-quality tweets and other content, and you can compile the best ones into testimonials to use in promoting future events.
You can also use a tool like Hashtracking® to track other aspects of the event experience that you might have missed during the event itself. There’s a lot of potential to find useful feedback and information that you can use to improve events you hold in the future.
Short and Sweet: Hashtags Are Powerful for Event Marketing
Deploying a hashtag for your event provides event attendees and exhibitors with a place to join the conversation surrounding what you’ve planned, but it can be so much more than that. A simple hashtag for an event can provide you with valuable data that aids in event promotion and improves not only the event you’re planning but future ones too!