6 Rules for Creating the Perfect Event Hashtag
The use of hashtags has evolved beyond simply adding a “#” before keywords. Marketers are now taking the time to plan a hashtag strategy, resulting in a much stronger and more effective social media campaign. But how do you create a hashtag? What are the hashtag rules to follow?
If you struggle with how to create a hashtag, especially for upcoming events, then keep reading. We’ll spell out the best practices and share six rules to get the most from your hashtag—to generate buzz for your event and to keep your followers engaged.
Why Hashtag Events Are More Successful
If you’ve ever planned an event—whether it’s a birthday party, family reunion, or full-fledged virtual or in-person conference—you know that it takes a lot of time, preparation, and hard work. Beyond just nailing down the logistics, for large events to succeed you need to amplify and promote the heck out of them, especially on social media.
One way to do that is to—yes—embrace the event hashtag. And not just any generic hashtag will do. You need one that’s unique, one that you can use across channels and platforms to promote the who, what, when, where and, most importantly, the why of your event. To paraphrase Field of Dreams, if you promote it, they will come.
How to Create a Hashtag
Before we dive into the rules for creating and using the perfect event hashtag, let’s quickly cover some hashtag basics:
- A hashtag is any word or unbroken word-grouping (no spaces) with a # sign in front of it, used on a social platform like Twitter or LinkedIn.
- A hashtag links your individual posts with all other posts containing that hashtag, giving it greater exposure and longevity, and connecting it to larger conversations.
- To create a hashtag, just think one up and start using it across your social channels. No need to register it anywhere.
- It doesn’t matter whether you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram—use the same event hashtag for all content related to your event. This creates a branded hashtag that provides a clear way to track activity across all social platforms.
So how do you create a hashtag that’s perfect for your next event? And how do you wield it effectively to generate more clicks, likes, and engagement? Here are six fundamental hashtag rules to follow:
- Choose your hashtag name wisely.
- Promote your hashtag consistently.
- Use your event hashtag before, during, and after.
- Encourage and incentivize hashtag use.
- Post hashtags contextually.
- Track your hashtag closely.
Let’s explore these six hashtag rules in more detail.
1. Choose Your Hashtag Name Wisely
What makes a good hashtag for your event? When creating a hashtag make sure it’s:
- Relevant. Obviously, your hashtag should be related to your event and connected to your brand. Use the event name, the topic of the event, or an abbreviation that’s easy to remember (like #VMworld, #dreamforce or #ConfabCentral).
- Unique. Pick a hashtag that isn’t currently in circulation. A quick hashtag search on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or another platform will tell you if your hashtag is already being used for a different purpose. You can also search hashtags and brainstorm ideas by using a free tool like RiteTag. And do not—I repeat, do not—use one that may be easily confused with another. (We’re lookin’ at you, Burger King.)
- Concise. It’s common to abbreviate the name of the event and then add the year (e.g., #CES2017). A shorter hashtag like this is easy to remember and allows for additional character space on platforms like Twitter. Hashtags are not case sensitive, but to make them easier to read, consider capitalizing each word (e.g., #CiscoLive, not #ciscolive).
2. Promote Your Hashtag Consistently
Consistently communicate and promote your event hashtag. It should be visible on event signage, posters, presentations, websites, social channels, event-related emails, even your email signature. event-related emails, even your email signature. Obviously, include your event hashtag in every event-related social post.
3. Leverage Your Event Hashtag Before, During, and After
Long before your event begins, use your hashtag to generate buzz—about the keynotes, speakers, sessions, and sponsors—and get people excited to register. When the live event begins, that’s the time to go nuts and use the hashtag at every opportunity: live-tweeting sessions, posting photos, reminding attendees about what’s next.
After the event, use the hashtag to continue topical conversations, alert attendees to recorded sessions and other resources, and continue the conversations that you started earlier.
4. Encourage and Incentivize Hashtag Use
An event hashtag can help generate rich conversations among attendees, as well as remote followers. Use it to spark conversations and share substantive ideas about themes and session topics. Don’t just post something to Twitter and then leave! Stick around and chat. Be a catalyst for conversation.
Remember that hashtag success isn’t just dependent on your own feed. You need others to get on the bandwagon. Encourage speakers, sponsors, and attendees to use the hashtag for their own social activity when sharing their thoughts.
User-generated content with your hashtag is critical to success, so give ample thought about how to motivate people to share their experiences in words and photos. Consider how you can reward or incentivize their sharing through contests or even just timely retweets and thank-you’s that shine the spotlight on individuals.
5. Use Hashtags Contextually
A common practice is to add hashtags to the end of a social message, which makes sense for some posts and conversations. But also try using hashtags contextually. It’s arguably more efficient and professional, uses fewer characters, allows for additional content, and makes the hashtag part of the conversation.
6. Track Your Hashtag Closely
Set up a filter or feed in your given social tool (Twitter, Hootsuite, HubSpot, etc.) to track your specific hashtag. That will allow you to monitor its activity closely—and respond quickly to other peoples’ posts that include your hashtag. Keep the conversation going!
Despite the effort to promote and encourage everyone to use a designated hashtag for your event, inevitably someone will add their own twist. Keep an eye out and make sure to engage those who may be using the hashtag incorrectly.
For example, New York City hosts its annual fashion week event twice a year. Before Mercedes Benz dropped its sponsorship of the event in 2015, it was officially called Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and promoted with the hashtag “#MBFW. Yet there were many people using the hashtag #NYFW instead. To keep up with what’s being said on social channels, make sure you monitor all hashtags that refer to your event.
Parting Thoughts on Event Hashtags
Effectively using a hashtag for your event is just one aspect of running a successful social-media campaign. As simple as it seems, having a clearly branded and relevant hashtag will elevate your social presence. The hashtag acts as a virtual water cooler—a way for people to come together and discuss what’s going on in one place. And as every marketer knows, word of mouth is invaluable to any brand.
Talk to Tendo
Now that you understand how to create a hashtag, you’re ready to design an integrated social and content marketing campaign to promote your event. Tendo Communications can help. Contact us and together we explore your strategy options.