Hashtags are everywhere, and I do mean everywhere!

You can now find them on every major social network (excluding LinkedIn), and more than likely, your customers or clients are already using them in some way or another.

There really are many ways that you can use hashtags for your business’s social media marketing, but in the interest of time, I’m going to focus solely on how to create and use a hashtag for your next event.

Why should I use a hashtag for my event?

As a small business owner or nonprofit professional, you are putting on all kinds of events to show your expertise, acquire new clients, or build out your network of supporters for your cause. It’s time to use hashtags to increase awareness and the visibility of your events.

By including a hashtag in your promotions, commentary, and post-event thank yous, you’re not only pulling a conversation together, but you’re also making it easy for people to find photos and attendee interactions with your event.

How do I create a hashtag for my event?

Creating a hashtag is simple. The first step is coming up with a hashtag that will be easy for people to use and drive more visibility to your event.

Your event hashtag should be:

  • Unique: Search Twitter for the hashtag you have in mind. If it has been used recently, you will need to rethink it. If not, have at it!
  • Short: Remember, on Twitter you only have 280 characters to use. Because that’s where most of the conversation will be taking place, you need to make sure to keep your hashtag short.
  • Related: Your hashtag should reflect your event. Ex: Small Business Week (#SBW2020) or a Constant Contact Holiday Planning Event (#CCHoliday).
  • Memorable: You want your attendees to use this hashtag when they are talking about your event. This means that you want them to be able to remember what hashtag is associated with the event, without them having to try and find it every time they want to talk about your event.

Here are some good examples of popular event hashtags:

How will anyone know about my hashtag?

Similar to any other event marketing campaign, if you do not properly promote it no one will know it exists. The same goes for your new hashtag.

Your hashtag should be everywhere! But let’s break it down a little more:

Before your event

  1. Build awareness: Your hashtag should be included in all social promotions of your event.
  2. Listen: Track your hashtag on social sites so you can thank people who use your hashtag when mentioning that they’ll be attending your event (or, better yet, promoting your event for you).
  3. Be visible: Make sure to include your event hashtag on your registration page, informing attendees to “Join the Conversation.”

During your event

  1. Create conversations: Use a program like tweetbeam.com (that’s my favorite) to project the conversation on a screen. This will entice others to join the conversation during your event.
  2. Invite: Have any and all of your speakers announce the hashtag and point out your tweetbeam stream.
  3. Join in: Make sure to engage with your attendees who are using the hashtag. Retweet them and ask questions. Just make sure you’re not too invasive. This is not the place for you to advertise your business.

Tip: Use your social media tools to schedule a couple of tweets around your event content before the event begins — just in case you don’t have time to post during the event.

After your event

  1. Write digital thank you cards: You now have a social list of all of your engaged attendees. Take the time to thank them individually for joining you at your event.
  2. Keep the conversation going: Continue to follow the hashtag until the conversation dies. You’ll be surprised how much people will continue to talk about a great event. Continue to retweet and mention the pieces of great content your attendees are sharing.
  3. Gather multimedia from the event: Searching for your hashtag on individual social networks or using a program like Storify to pull all networks together allows you to view all images and/or videos that were shared (along with all other great content) around your event.

Tip: Every picture, quote, and hashtag used for your event can make great content for a new Facebook album, your website, or a Pinterest Board.

How do I manage my event hashtag?

Hashtags can be very visible, just like all social promotions. Moderating is the key to a successful hashtag. The last thing you want is someone promoting your event, or worse, asking you a question about your event and no one is there to answer.

Managing events can be hard enough, so make sure you create a plan to also manage your event hashtag.

Tip: Creating a stream specifically for your event hashtag on a platform like Hootsuite can really help you keep track of the conversation.

Does using a hashtag expose my business to spam?

Yes, it can. However, you should pat yourself on the back if this happens. The only time you’ll find spammers using a specific hashtag is if it’s a “trending hashtag.”

A trending hashtag is a hashtag that is being used more than they were previously. The trending list is on Twitter to help people find “breaking news” from across the world in real-time.

So if you’ve made the “trending list” and begin to have spammers invade your hashtag, DO NOT PANIC! This means you are wildly successful!

Tip: Post about the fact that there are spammers, so your attendees don’t accidentally click on anything the spammers are sharing.

Wondering what a hashtag stream looks like?

Why not take a couple of minutes right now, to check out the #SmallBizSaturday stream? The best way to learn a new concept on social media is to just jump in and see how others are using it.

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