Many years ago when my day job was the event manager at a national non-profit, I first encountered the prefix “#” before a word and thought it was a typo. OK, I am from a different generation which did not grow up with the vast array of social media options which are so popular today. It was a much different time and I was a much different event manager and the ubiquitous hashtag was not the powerful event marketing tool it has become today.
So I learned and became effective with using the hashtag when marketing my organization’s events. A few experiences and pointers I want to pass on – perhaps not new but they do bear repeating especially when you’re rushed for time and thinking about a great event hashtag may stymie your creative juices. These tips may help you be better focused.
Here are some key features to consider in your event planning to create a great event hashtag.
Make it Unique
Believe it or not, this can be more difficult than you think. There are tons of events going on so coming up with something unique takes a bit of effort. However, it’s important to pick a hashtag that isn’t being used at the same time as the one you want to use. Do a search to see if your hashtag is currently being used. Also do not use one that may be easily confused with another event or purpose.
Some of my first attempts at “being unique” failed when I used what I thought was a catchy phrase then found out several other organizations thought they, too, were being clever. Back to the drawing board I went…several times before I found something that fit this feature of uniqueness.
Make it Concise…but Clear
We all need to be concise with our hashtags, especially when running up against character constraints such as those on Twitter. I read that the perfect hashtag counts only 8 characters or less. In my brain, that was always too difficult but I did try…succeeded rarely. However, the point to remember is don’t be so concise that a person will have difficulty deciphering what you’re saying or the name of the event. A little more length is more important than brevity if you want potential attendees and their friends on social media to understand immediately what your event is all about. And, of course, attend!
Make it Memorable
Create your hashtag so it sticks in people’s memory! If potential attendees can’t remember it, the hashtag can be quite useless and you’ve lost all marketing potential with it. How can you make it memorable? Make sure it’s understandable, make sure it makes sense, make sure it’s relevant to your event or purpose. Jumbled abbreviations, words that don’t relate to your event or purpose will only confuse and frustrate and turn potential attendees away scratching their heads. Avoid them or attendees will avoid you and your event.
Watch out for Negative Connotations
Has this happened to you? It almost happened to me and I have seen it happen to others. If your hashtag can be interpreted in another negative way or contains bad implications or associations, toss it fast. Not good. Not funny. Don’t go there. A potential career buster. Check and check again. Have another set of eyes check too. You want the marketing campaign for your event to be remembered the right way.
Here’s where bringing all this together and letting your imagination run wild comes in. You and your team might check other successful examples of great event hashtags to inspire you to reach your creative heights. Brainstorm about what you see, create hashtags, then tick off all the boxes – unique, concise but clear, catchy, easy to remember, no bad associations. Which one has all these features and works for achieving your event marketing goal? You got it!
Give Me Examples You Scream!
OK I will. Each year the Village of Arlington Heights, Illinois holds its outdoor food fest block party for its residents…and then some. Called the Taste of Arlington Heights, the event has been a huge regional success. Every year the block party hashtag changes #AHTaste2014, #AHTaste2015, #AHTaste 2016. All perfectly simple, short, recognizable and predictable for block party fans. Adding the year to the hashtag is an easy way to make it unique.
From the case studies file of Tweet Beam (www.tweetbeam.com/cases) is the example of the popular soda, Mountain Dew. The “green” soda used #DewGreenScreen for their Dew Green Screen campaign, a series of exclusive movie premieres in the United Kingdom. The hashtag was catchy, unique, memorable, and although not real concise, it was very clear. Effective? Yes! The engagement of Mountain Dew fans turned #DewGreenScreen into a trending topic on Twitter.
Time to Launch!
You got this far, so make it happen as a marketing tool. What can you do to make the most of your event hashtag?
Make it Your Brand
Whether you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms, use the same hashtag for all content related to your event to create a branded hashtag for your event. Using a branded hashtag will be easier for other to follow activities around your event. It also provides you a clear way to track social activity across all social platforms you are using. Consistency is key for successful marketing!
Don’t limit the use of your event hashtag to just social media platforms! Use it on your posters, signage, presentations, news releases, and website. Make it part of your everyday conversation. Encourage speakers, sponsors and attendees to use the hashtag for their own social activity before, during and after your event. And about your employees… your greatest advocates are sitting right next to you… or down the hall.
No matter how you may try, there will be people who will add their own personal twist to your hashtag and brand your event slightly differently. Monitor this activity and all hashtags that refer to your event so you can keep up with what is being said about the event on social channels.
Also 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.
So stop and take the time to plan a hashtag strategy before your event takes off and you’ll have a much stronger and effective social media campaign. Hashtags tie us together across a range of social media platforms which makes them an invaluable marketing opportunity for event professionals hoping to spread the word about their events.
rsvpBOOK and Social Media Tools for Your Event
At rsvpBOOK our Social Media Network tool can assist you when you’re ready to get the word on social media out about your event. We’re here to let you work smarter, not harder in your event planning and marketing. So when you’re ready, check us out at www.rsvpBOOK and try a free trial of our online event registration and management software.
With social media as the major conduit of information for just about everything, spending the time and energy to come up with an event hashtag is imperative. It can be the difference between a mediocre (maybe a flop?) event and one that knocks attendees’ socks off and have them crying for a repeat.