Hashtags (#) are one of the cornerstones of communication on social media. Julius Solaris, author of the Event Manager blog, calls the hashtag ‘the universal currency in our fragmented social media world’ in his post The Hashtag Revolution. Sounds lofty, but it’s true. Hashtags tie us together around common topics across a range of social platforms – and this means they’re a stellar opportunity for events professionals hoping to spread the word about their events.
Here are 10 crucial tips for building your solid-like-The-Rock hashtag strategy. If you’ve got any more suggestions, leave us a comment below as we’d love to hear them!
Channel this guy when building your hashtag strategy
Pick Your Hashtag Early
Your hashtag should be one of the first things you decide when you’re planning your event communications. Make sure you follow platform conventions – for example, on Twitter, hashtags made up entirely of numbers won’t register. Commit to using your hashtag on your tweets, add it to your brochure, to your slide decks, to on-site branding. Add it your email signature. Put it every damn place you can think of.
Do Your Research
Make absolutely sure your hashtag isn’t already being used for something else by running a quick search on Twitter. Keep it short and sweet so that it’s not taking up too much room, and make sure it’s easy to spell. If you run multiple events, you can use a brand hashtag and an event-specific hashtag – for example, #RFIDconf and #RFIDconf13. But stick to the conference hashtag when you’re telling people what the official hashtag is.
Communicate The Hashtag Consistently
Get as many people on board with using the hashtag as possible. Firstly, make sure your internal team is prepped and don’t forget the golden rule of internal comms. Tell them once (in person), tell them twice (via email), and then tell them again (a poster on the fridge works well we find!). If you are approaching media to cover the event, include hashtag information in your pitch or press release. Make sure your hashtag is known to speakers, sponsors and exhibitors – make it part of their welcome pack!
See What Hashtags People Are Using For Your Event
For all your careful planning and communication, people will still arrive at your event and start using a heady cocktail of hashtags that will probably be similar to the one you proposed. Monitor your feed and if you see specific hashtags start to gain momentum, start tracking those too. You don’t need to use them, but they will still be a good way of discovering conversations related to your event and measuring buzz.
Tap Into Industry-Specific Hashags
As well as your own hashtag, each industry will have its own set of well-used hashtags that people use to share content and conversations relating to their profession. For example, #eventprofs and #bizbash are both well-utilised by events professionals. Check out http://tagdef.com/ for hashtag suggestions and definitions or take a look at 15 Events and Meeting Industry Hashtags to Follow.
Remember – don’t just look for events hashtags. Look for hashtags related to your audience. For example, if you’re hosting an event for social media marketers, #mmchat and #smmeasure would be useful. Share useful content using these hashtags to get your event in front of all the right people.
Look For Twitter Chats
Hashtags are used on Twitter to organise regular chats around particular topics. Twitter chats are a great place to connect with a ready-made audience of interesting, engaged people – and if there isn’t a good one for your event topic yet, you could always start your own! For maximum effectiveness, connect with the chat organiser in advance to see if you can get a list of the questions being asked, and craft some great tweets linking to useful content that you can share when the time is right.
Hashtags Aren’t Just For Twitter
Twitter may have been the place where it all began, but it’s not the only place where hashtags reside. Facebook plans to introduce hashtags and Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and Tumblr already all use hashtags to help organise content. We use an app called TagsForLikes to find great hashtags for sharing visual snippets. And whilst hashtag stuffing is frowned upon on Twitter (go for 1-3 hashtags per tweet) it’s great for getting discovered on Instagram et al. Stuff away!
Hashtag stuffing is encouraged on Instagram
If your event features a large amount of speaker sessions, keynotes and workshops, you can encourage the use of session-specific hashtags to give you an insight into which speakers are really rocking the socks of your attendees. This also gives speakers a chance to see what people are saying about them and gives them an easy way of identifying potential new fans fast.
If you have screens available to you at your event, think about including a live Twitter wall of your event that shows what people are saying using your hashtag. This is something of a leap of faith as this opens you up to potential hashtag hijacking – if you’re nervous about taking the plunge, some services build in an approval process before tweets go live on the wall. Check out Twaterfall, Epilogger or ask your app provider for suggestions.
One of the great advantages of using hashtags is that you get to see exactly who was talking about your event and what they were saying. Use both quantitative and qualitative analysis of your hashtag to learn more about your event. How many people tweeted? What did people like? What really bugged them? You should also be keeping a close on the hashtag before, during and after the event itself so that you can quickly respond to questions or comments. Hootsuite allows you to track specific hashtags within the dashboard so that you’re able to stay on top of your event conversations and we like Tweet Archivist for storing and analysing tweets post-event. Grin is a new tool on the market that focuses on influencer marketing and reaching influential social media users.
So there you have it – 10 top hashtag tips for events professionals. Found this useful? Tell us using the #NLBlog hashtag. We’ll be watching!
About Noodle Live
Noodle Live brings a seamless social experience to events, conferences and exhibitions using a combination of mobile applications and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) swipe cards to streamline information sharing.
This post was written by Clemi Hardie, founder and MD of Noodle Live.