Are you planning an event? If so, you’re probably already working on your communication strategy and planning. What social media platforms have you considered using to market your event? Chances are you have chosen at least a few of the most popular ones. Have you created a hashtag for your event? More often than not, an event hashtag is thought of late in the game or is an afterthought after people attending your event created one for you.
Hashtags are a necessary and powerful marketing tool for any event, small or large. Why should you use a hashtag? There are many reasons, however I’m going to start with what happens if you don’t create and use one.
What happens when you don’t have a hashtag for your event?
Looking at the history of hashtags, they were popularized by Twitter users as a way to group conversations together, then to find conversations during live events. If you don’t have a hashtag for your event, this is how that will most likely play out:
People will make up their own hashtag.
Although this isn’t the most horrible thing that could happen, it could be a hashtag that isn’t a good representation your brand or your event.
People won’t use a hashtag for your event.
If they don’t know what it is, some people will use topic or trending hashtags, but not use one to let people know they’re at your event. Attendees will not be able to find conversations before, during, or after your event. It’s a missed marketing opportunity.
You’ll have multiple hashtags.
It’s difficult to follow several conversations at one time, so people will more than likely follow the hashtag they (a) thought of or (b) found on another post. Many great posts about your event may be lost in cyberspace to a low traffic hashtag, or worse, no hashtag.
Now that you know what could happen if you don’t use a hashtag, let’s discuss the benefits of having and using a hashtag.
Why should you have and use a hashtag for your event?
There are so many good reasons to have and use a hashtag. If you’ll notice, I did say “have” and “use” in referencing a hashtag to your event. Just having one isn’t enough, you’ll also have to use it. Here are the whys:
What are people saying about your event? Before the event, you can find out what people are excited about and what they’re looking forward to. During the event, you can find the takeaways and things people like best about your event. After the event, you can see what people thought of it and if there are any changes you should make.
Participate in conversations.
You can join in on conversations about your event or the topics relevant to your event. It’s important to know what people are thinking and what they like. This is also an opportunity to provide more in-depth info you may not have had time to share during the event.
Connect with people.
You can connect with groups of people or individuals that have attended or are following your event. This is useful in networking, connecting with people that have similar interests, and sometimes leading to new friendships or customers. You may also have the opportunity to connect with other influencers in your field of expertise. You can build a community of like-minded people around your event.
Reach people that didn’t attend your event.
You can have a global reach, even for a local event. If people are interested in your event but they couldn’t be there for any number of reasons, they can still participate. These non-attenders can participate in the conversations and may possibly be your future attenders.
It adds a human element.
It’s sometimes argued that a hashtag is just a keyword with a pound symbol in front of it. Although that may be true, keywords are words that are indexed by robots. Hashtags are real conversations created by humans that can be accessed in real-time. It’s what real people are saying about your event.
Find and follow your followers.
People attending and talking about your event are the people you want to follow. When people follow you, they’re wanting more discussions, tips and media on your topic. When you follow them back, that says, “I see you, I value you, and I’d love to keep the conversation going.”
Find and share user-generated content.
You can find pull quotes, photos, videos, and conversations about your event and share them with others. People love to see what other people are doing and learn from other people attending your event. You will more than likely find some new and unique perspectives. Share the love! Retweet and repost!
Thank attendees and get feedback.
The best way to find out what people think about your event is to see what they’re posting about it. This is a great way to gain insights to what people think of your event, what they liked, and what they thought you may have done better. You can also personally thank attendees by tagging them in a post.
Build an event interest list.
The people using your hashtag are the people that are interested in and creating a buzz about your event. If you have an ongoing event, you can connect with these people to invite them to your next gathering or give them additional info about your event.
Promote future events.
If you have a recurring event, use the same hashtag so people can find it. If it’s an annual event, some people will choose to add the year on the end of it. #event16 then next year #event17, and so on.
Are you ready to create a hashtag for your event? Here’s a process and some tips to help you choose the best possible hashtag for your event.
How to create and choose a hashtag for your event
And you thought naming your kid was difficult? This might be about the same, or worse. Once you start promoting it, you have to live with it.
Make a list of possible hashtags for your event. Write them all down, even if they’re not your favorites. Sometimes seeing them in writing helps and you won’t have a lot of duplicate hashtags to throw out.
Narrow it down to your favorites.
Pick between 5 and 10 of your favorites then answer these questions about each one of them.
Does it represent your brand standards?
Is it descriptive of your event name or topic?
Will people be able to easily relate it to your event?
Make it simple.
The best hashtags are short, easy to understand, and easy to remember. If it’s not easy for people to use, they won’t use it. Get rid of any on your list that don’t meet this criteria.
Make it unique.
Is it a common hashtag? For an event, you want a unique hashtag that others are not using. If it’s been used a little bit, that’s not too bad, however make sure that it’s not referencing a topic that conflicts with your event. I was in charge of promoting a women’s ministry event a few years ago and they chose a hashtag and started using it before researching it. The tag had been used for a recent event at a nightclub club. Needless to say, that got some interesting responses from the attendees. #reckless13 “Get drunk and get wrecked!” #CommunicationDirectorNightmare
Research, research, and research.
This goes hand-in-hand with the last point about it being unique. You cannot research too much. Look on Twitter, Instagram, search engines, hashtag websites. Here are some helpful tools.
Weed out any names or phrases that have bad associations or meanings. You would be amazed at all of the cultural connotations, slang, and definitions of what seems like harmless words and you had no idea they were bad. Geez, even my name, Jody, has a bad association. (you can look that up if you’re not familiar with it) Check your hashtags by:
Google search. Look at the web links and the images. This will give you a quick warning if inappropriate, awful associations exist.
Ask a few people what they think. I find this to be very effective in finding hashtags that might not be the best options.
Take your family to Pen Island!
Hashtag: #penisland Make sure your hashtag words when placed together don’t have an unfortunate message other than what you intended. Enough said.
Now it’s time to choose one. Narrow it down to your favorite. Now try to shorten it again if possible.
Creating a hashtag strategy
No, you’re not done yet. Now that you have a hashtag, you’ll want to put it to work. Create a communication strategy for before, during, and after your event. Your hashtag strategy should tie in with your overall marketing strategy to reach your target audience.
This is important for branding continuity. Should you use some CAPS or make it all lowercase? Honestly, this is a personal preference or a branding preference. Whatever makes it easy to read is what you should do. Our company is Atomic Design & Consulting. We’ve landed on #atomicDC for our hashtag. Some could argue that is should be #AtomicDC, but readability is a tad easier for the lowercase “a.”
Marketing and visual media.
All communication, advertising and marketing for your event should have the hashtag on it. All print collateral, swag, and digital marketing. Don’t forget to add your hashtag to all images and videos.
People love to take photos at events. Give them a place to do it! Have signs that tell people what to hashtag, and you can even have the hashtag as part of your photo set.
Include your hashtag in all social posts about your event.
Include in the registration process.
Include your hashtag as a reminder as part of the registration process. If your registration allows people to share on social, include your hashtag so people can find and follow others that will be attending your event.
Invite people to your event.
Find people using topic-related hashtags and comment on their posts with info about your event, including your hashtag.
Provide event details.
Share details about your event as they become available such as schedules, changes, or new happenings.
Be part of the conversation.
Comment and like posts by your attendees.
Monitor your hashtag.
Do some social listening on Twitter and Instagram. You can also use the tools listed earlier to monitor your hashtag.
Share all hashtagged posts.
Use something like Tagboard to show on screen so people can see other’s posts and see their own posts. This usually encourages people to post during your event because they’ll want to see their own posts show up on the screen.
Retweet and repost.
Share as many hashtagged conversations and posts as you can.
Get a photographer.
Station a person to take pics with people’s phones near the photo set. Hire a photographer to get candid shots, B-roll video, and event highlights.
Assign a social media coordinator.
Hire a social media person to post media, join conversations, and do social listening, all using your hashtag.
Find hashtagged conversations and retweet and repost them. Tagging the authors.
Keep the conversation going.
Use surveys, polls, and ask questions. Include your hashtag so people can find them.
Recap your event.
Do event recaps or find others that have recapped your event. This is great for people that couldn’t attend and may encourage them to attend in the future.
Creative media recap.
Find user-generated content to create photo and video recaps using stop-motion or slideshows.
Send thank you posts.
You can do posts thanking your attendees for coming or you can tag them, thanking them individually.
Invite them to your next event.
This is a great opportunity to advertise your next event. This should be done soon after the event while they’re still hyped up from attending your last event.
We hope your event is a huge success! Please share your event hashtag with us in the comments. We would love to follow your event and share ideas with our digital marketing community.
Event Hashtag Worksheet
It’s easy with the worksheet.
We know that’s a lot of information to process and remember. Would you like an easy way to create and strategize using an event hashtag? Download the worksheet! It has all of the planning tools, checklists, and resources you’ll need to decide on the best hashtag for your event, and help you in adding it to your marketing plan.