Hashtags are an essential part of your event marketing toolkit – but as with any tool, you need to know how to handle them correctly for maximum effectiveness. Used right, they can benefit everyone involved in the show, and possibly go viral in the social media world. With hashtags now appearing on Google+, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and even Facebook, there is no reason not to invest your time in learning this social media skill.
Attendees following your event hashtag can generate new connections, interact with speakers or exhibitors, and share their own commentary, images, videos and other highlights of the show, offering a fantastic stream of content that can maximize your event visibility within their industry. Exhibitors and speakers can generate extra buzz around their appearance at the event and draw more visitors; people who aren’t attending the show yet can view a stream of persuasive testimonials that might just compel them to sign up for days 2 and 3.
Of course, as an event marketer, you can see the buzz around your show, hear what’s working – and perhaps what isn’t – and engage directly with your audience in real-time. This insight can help with on-the-spot improvements, reveal industry information and news that could potentially succeed in other parts of your marketing (such as PR), allowing your audience to develop a personal connection with the event, bringing them back year after year.
5 Tips for Using Hashtags in Event Marketing:
1. Keep it short
While not such an issue on Google+ or Facebook, the character limit on Twitter means it pays to keep your hashtag short. Users may want to post commentaries or quote speakers at your events, so every character counts. With long event names, it’s best to go for an acronym or a shortened version of the name – for example, we minimize Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo down to #EVTechExpo
2. Keep it unique – do your research
With the benefits of event hashtags being seen by a steadily-rising number of marketers, there’s a good chance your hashtag of choice may already be used for a different event. Avoid confusion or intrusion on another event’s space – do a search beforehand and make a change if necessary. Adding a location can be a good way to do this if the other show is located somewhere else, for example: #CeramicsExpoUSA.
3. Monitor using social media marketing tools
The inbuilt Twitter search function is great, but chances are you want to monitor other things too –mentions, replies to your tweets, your Twitter timeline…and it can be fiddly switching between them all and starting a new search for your hashtag each time. In this case, tools such as Tweetdeck can be indispensable. Simply set up a stream that monitors your hashtag, and you can see what your audience are saying – while also viewing your other streams alongside it. Think of it as an easy-to-use ‘control panel’ for your Twitter feed.
Want to monitor your hashtag use across multiple networks, not just Twitter? Use Tagboard and you can see where your hashtag is used across Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Vine and Twitter, all on one page.
Both of these tools also have app versions – so you can keep up with the conversation even when on the move.
4. Set an example – use it yourself!
Start using and promoting your hashtag in your messages in the run up to the event, ideally at least 1 month before doors open. If you have a big enough community, you can even use it year round to organise relevant industry conversation. Don’t be afraid to directly ask participants to include it in their posts – a short message such as “Attending [event name] next week? Tag your posts and images with #EventHashtag to join the conversation!” is ideal.
It might seem obvious, but if people don’t know your hashtag exists, they won’t use it – and for some users, it might be the first time they have even participated with event social media in this way. Set an example and even the less social media savvy of your audience will soon be sharing their best content from the show.
So, to recap:
Keep it short
Keep it unique – do your research
Monitor using social media marketing tools
Set an example – use it yourself!
Following these tips consistently, you should soon have a successful digital stream of audience-generated content for your event.
Any other tips, tricks or tools for managing event marketing hashtags on social media? Please feel free to share the best in the comments below.