Event hashtags are an integral part of promoting your event on social media. They allow attendees, event planners and other interested parties to share pictures, tweets and general information about the event. The more users that are using your event hashtag, the better—they are spreading the word about your event on social media, aggregating the conversation in one central place.
The end goal of an event hashtag should be the creation of a tagline that is synonymous with the event, existing as its own organic advertisement in user posts. When setting up your hashtag, there are several factors to take into consideration.
Make it Catchy
The last thing that you want is a long, clunky event hashtag. When users include it in their post, it should be easy to remember and short. Keep character limits in mind, as it will be more difficult to incorporate your hashtag in a post if it is too lengthy. For a digital marketing convention in Los Angeles, you may be choosing between two potential hashtags: #digiconLA or #digitalmarketingconventionLA. Put yourself in the shoes of a user; the longer your hashtag is, the easier it is to forget the exact phrasing or make mistakes in spelling. In this example, choosing #digiconLA would be the way to go. If the hashtag is short and catchy, and you are including it frequently in your social posting leading up to the event, it will begin to show up in user posts.
Own Your Hashtag
Your hashtag should be exceedingly visible in your event marketing materials. Once you have devised a clever, catchy event planning hashtag that isn’t too long, make sure that you are including it everywhere that you possibly can. Each post about the event, every email blast, anything that you can think of where using the hashtag seems natural. You want users to subconsciously start to associate that hashtag with your event. If you achieve this, you now have a successful event hashtag that is doing promotional work for you. Make sure the hashtag is visible at your event, as well; consider having a livestream of user posts incorporating the hashtag projected onto a screen somewhere in the venue.
Keep It Relevant
Your hashtag should be relevant to your event, and not too similar to any other popular hashtags, especially event planning hashtags. Preferably, your event hashtag should include the name of your event, even if it is abbreviated. If your event happens every year, be sure to include the year in the hashtag as well—for instance, if it is occuring in 2019, shorten the year to “19” and add it at the end of the event hashtag. Staying on top of emerging trends in the event planning industry can also help you gain a better high level understanding of what keywords might be relevant to your event hashtag.
Don’t be afraid to interact with users who are implementing your hashtag in their own posts. You can do this before, during, or after the event—the point is that you are engaging the audience and fostering conversation around the event in a natural way. Even if a user post doesn’t necessarily seem open-ended or based around a question, a simple retweet with “Thanks for attending! #youreventhashtag” can show that you are engaged with your audience. The more frequently the event planning hashtag appears in your posts, the more frequently it is showing up on the timelines of your followers.
If you’ve utilized it successfully, your event hashtag will have done something right. It will have essentially created a multimedia library of user-generated content, created at your event and the highlights of the experience enjoyed by the attendees. Take the time to repost your favorites, demonstrating to your audience the success of your event and floating the hashtag back up to the top of the conversation. This ties in with the theme of staying engaged—owning the dialogue around your hashtag is the best way to ensure that it makes the widest possible impact.
Too Many Hashtags
So you’ve conquered the biggest obstacle to a successful event planning hashtag: you’ve come up with a short, simple hashtag that is unique to your event. Success! Now, it is important to make sure that users are aware that this hashtag is the event’s primary hashtag, and therefore the one that they should include in their posts. When posting about the event, limit your number of hashtags to avoid confusion. If possible, use only the one event hashtag, to really drive home that this is the primary hashtag to be used by attendees. For a comic convention, it may be tempting to throw in as many hashtags as you can to widen your social impact - think #comiccon2020, #startrek, #starwars, #spiderman. However, the addition of all the extra hashtags is only diverting from the main hashtag, #comiccon2020, which is the hashtag you are looking for users to implement. Too many hashtags creates visually disorienting posts and can lead to wires getting crossed.
Another common event planning hashtag mistake is to create an event hashtag that lacks specificity. Let’s say you are planning an event in New Orleans, scheduled for 2020. A hashtag along the lines of #NOLA2020 is the exact opposite of what you want for your event. It is far too general, and can get swept up in the wider conversation happening with that hashtag—you’ll end up being tagged in with local events and social media-savvy tourists! Instead, try to channel in on branded terms that make your event unique. Even if you are not incorporating the location in the event hashtag, also shy away from using the topic as a central feature. For example, if you are planning a dentistry convention next spring, avoid #dentistryconvention as your hashtag. It is far too vague.
Not Using Hashtags
This might seem obvious, but the biggest mistake you can make with event planning hashtags is not to use hashtags at all. Hashtags can be incredibly effective; tweets containing hashtags receive twice as much engagement as tweets without them, and users are 55% more likely to retweet something with a hashtag.
Let Your Hashtag Work for You!
When considering the social marketing plan for your event, it’s always prudent to use every resource at your disposal. Event planning hashtags are essentially a free and easy way to increase your exposure, especially considering that attendees will be doing a lot of the work simply by sharing their experiences online. Try creating a successful event hashtag for your next event following these tips and do your best to track the overall engagement—a good hashtag can make all the difference!