Social media is one of the most affordable and effective tools you have to promote events. It costs nothing to use (unless you invest in paid ads) and it’s a fantastically organic way to connect with your guests.
But there’s a lot of noise on social media. You have to be clever about how you promote yourself if you want to cut through all that clutter.There’s a lot of noise on social media. You need an event hashtag to cut through all that clutter. Click To Tweet
That’s why you need an event hashtag: A special word or phrase that helps people find and interact with you and anyone else who cares about your topic – your event. Hashtags help you spread the word about your event, reach new people, build a community, and even sell tickets.
How do you use a hashtag to promote your event? Follow these steps.
Step 1: Create Your Event Hashtag
You will want to create your event hashtag early in the event planning process. Decide on your hashtag when you outline the marketing activities you will take to promote the event. You need this piece of information early because you should include it on all of your marketing materials, send it to your attendees, and ask your speakers and vendors to use it as well.
Brainstorm and prioritize a list of event hashtags. Make sure they satisfy these characteristics:
Relevant – Your event hashtag should clearly relate to your event’s name, purpose, or topic.
Unique – The hashtag should refer specifically to your event. It shouldn’t be applicable to other events. For example, #InsuranceMeetUp is a bad hashtag because it could refer to countless insurance-related events.
Short – Shorter hashtags are easier for people to remember and use.
Clear – Don’t use a hashtag that’s tough to decipher. People should be able to recognize it right away, especially the people who might attend your event.
New – Use a hashtag that’s never been used before, otherwise you might confuse people. For instance, you wouldn’t want to use #SocialMediaWorld because that’s the name of an existing conference.
Timeless – If you plan to host the same event again in the future, avoid using time-bound phrases like “2019” or “Feb.” These won’t be applicable next year or if you host the event in a different month.
Step 2: Vet Your Hashtag
Before releasing your new hashtag to the world, it’s important to search for it on multiple platforms to make sure it’s unique and that it’s not used by anyone or any brand you wouldn’t want associated with your event. It would be embarrassing, for instance, to learn on event day that your hashtag is also used on several adult websites.
Search for your hashtag on Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Simply type your hashtag in their search bars. If you can’t find it on those platforms, it probably doesn’t exist.
Step 3: Post Your Hashtag Everywhere
Before you start distributing your hashtag to attendees, speakers, and vendors, you’ll first want to promote it yourself.
- Place the hashtag in the bios of each social media account.
- Add the hashtag to the header of your newsletter template.
- Add the hashtag to the header/logo of any print materials and signage.
- Put the hashtag in your email signature.
- Schedule multiple social media posts with the hashtag.
- Add the hashtag in prominent places on your website, like the header, footer, and sidebar.
You’ll also want to include your hashtag in any press releases you distribute and blog posts you publish. Include the hashtag right in the title so people see it even if they don’t read the article.
If you have someone on your team handle your social media marketing, or if you outsource it to an outside agency, make sure they know to use it on every single social media post they publish. It’s important for your followers and anyone interested in the event to see the hashtag as much as possible.
Step 4: Notify Key Players
Once you’re happy with your hashtag and you’ve sent it out to the world on your own channels, your next step is to distribute it to other key players so they can use it as well.
Who should you give your hashtag to?
Your speakers and presenters – Ask them to use the hashtag when they promote themselves to their fans. This can greatly expand your reach. Entice them to use the hashtag by explaining that it will help their followers follow the event.
Your vendors – Your vendors may want to promote themselves by aligning their brand with yours. For instance, your caterer may post a photo of their buffet spread at your event and add your hashtag for credibility. Their followers become aware of the event and anyone who follows the hashtag learns about the caterer.
Your guests – Obviously this is the most important group of people to notify about the hashtag. You’ll need them to include your hashtag in their social media posts to boost your reach.
If it’s possible, try to include hashtag use into your contract with speakers and vendors. For example, their contract might require them to post 10 or 15 times during your event using the hashtag. This kind of transaction ensures you get as much exposure as possible.
One great way to get people to use your event hashtag is to supply them with social media copy they can share on their profiles. Since they don’t have to create anything themselves, they will be more likely to share what you asked.
You can either give them posts to copy and paste, or use a tool like Share Link Generator to create social sharing links. People can simply click your links to share your pre-written social media post (with hashtag).
Step 5: Make it Part of Your Event
It’s critical that you make your hashtag visible during your event. Hang it on signs and make it part of your branding. Include it on any literature or handouts you give your guests.
It’s an especially good idea to make the hashtag visible anywhere someone would take a photo, like the entrance to your venue, at a statue or noteworthy structure, or anywhere scenic. This will get your hashtag into people’s photos so it’s apparent when they post online.
If you can, find ways to incentivize your guests to use the hashtag. For instance, you might host a giveaway where each hashtag share online counts as a chance to win.
Most importantly, you (or someone on your team) should be posting consistently throughout the event. Don’t be afraid to post hundreds of times during the event with updates, photos, and videos. Include your hashtag in every single post. You’ll also want to share and comment on other people’s posts when they use the hashtag too.
Step 6: Keep the Conversation Going
You don’t have to stop using your hashtag after the event. In fact, it’s smart to keep the conversation going to remind people about their experience and build excitement for your next event.
Continue posting online with your hashtag. You might drip out photos of the event over time, share information about the event’s success, give your speakers some extra promotion, or ask your attendees to share their favorite moments.
If you plan to host the same event in the future, or another event under the same brand, we strongly recommend using the same hashtag if it’s applicable. This way potential attendees and speakers will be able to look through the entire history of that event to see your past successes and how you’ve grown.
As you can see, hashtags are not that difficult to create and use to promote your event. The trick, however, is to be consistent. Use your hashtag in as many places as possible. The more people see it, the more likely they are to use it, which helps promote your event.