Now that Hashtags are in use across so many social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Vine to name a few), they can be used to promote, monitor and engage with the conversations around your events across multiple social media platforms.
Below are tips for using Hashtags at events, using the ProBlogger 2013 event as a case study.
Tips For Using Hashtags At Events
Creating an event specific Hashtag is a great way to communicate directly with your audience in the lead up to, during and after your event. ProBlogger 2013 used the #PBEvent Hashtag to communicate a variety of information to delegates, including:
- The launch of ticket sales;
- Speaker line-up;
- Accommodation details;
- Tips for preparing for the event;
- Promotion of sponsors;
- Social activities;
- Giving people that couldn’t make the event a sneak peak at what they are missing out on;
- Promotion of virtual tickets;
- Providing additional information to support presentations; and
- Post event feedback and planning for the next event
Hashtags are not just a communication tool for event organisers.
Creating, promoting and using a Hashtag prior to the commencement of an event can assist in generating hype and anticipation in the lead up to an event, as well as ongoing engagement during and after the event itself.
Attending a conference can be a daunting experience, particularly if you don’t know anyone, are going for the first time or attending alone. Hashtags enable delegates to connect prior to the event, interact during the event and can be used to assist in developing relationships prior to meeting IRL.
Amongst other things, prior to the event the #PBEvent Hashtag was used by delegates to get recommendations on what to bring, where to meet up and even to on sell tickets for those people that couldn’t attend the event. This was a win-win for those selling and those still desperate to get a ticket to this sold out event. But perhaps the best benefit for the event organisers was that they didn’t need to get involved in the process – think of that reduced workload!
The #PBEvent Hashtag also served as an avenue for finding new people to follow via social media. Those delegates that were actively using the #PBEvent Hashtag would probably have experienced an increase in followers as a direct result of this activity – I certainly did!
Relationships established (both on and off-line) as a result of interacting via the #PBEvent Hashtag will no doubt continue to develop over time, providing ongoing value to those delegates that made new connections as a result of following the event Hashtag. This then becomes and added benefit of the event and a reason delegates may return in subsequent years and refer your event onto others.
Monitoring Of Social Media Activity Around The Event
Hashtags provide an excellent way to monitor the conversations around your events across multiple social media platforms. You can do this via tools with aggregation capabilities such as Hootsuite or Tagboard.
Tagboard was used by the @problogger team to aggregate, monitor and respond to content from multiple social media platforms that incorporated the #PBEvent Hashtag before, during and after the event. The #PBEvent Tagboard feed was also projected onto the screen between sessions. Some people get a real kick out of seeing their social interactions on the big screen.
I recommend setting up several screens around your event solely dedicated to your Tagboard feed as another way to promote engagement around your Hashtag.
Stream Or Session Specific Hashtags
One of the negative effects of generating large volumes of activity around an event Hashtag is that is can get fairly noisy and hard to follow along, particularly if there are several sessions going on all at once. You can cut through the noise by creating stream or session specific Hashtags. However, these will only be effective if you promote these Hashtags. Some of the places you could promote stream or session specific Hashtags include:
- Event program;
- During the session (MC, presenter and a visual promotion within the room); and
- Within the virtual ticket portal (if you have one) so that virtual ticket holders can follow along with the appropriate session too
Competitions & Promotion of Sponsors
ProBlogger 2013 used Hashtags as a method of collecting entries into competitions conducted in partnership with event sponsors. This is a great way to generate exposure for your sponsors beyond those physically in attendance, particularly if you have online influencers (people with large online communities) in attendance.
Delegates were asked to submit entries using the Hashtag #VAonboard in conjunction with the #PBEvent Hashtag to collect entries into a competition to win flights and accommodation to next year’s SXSW conference in Austin Texas. A large amount of delegate content was produced, with the event organisers shortlisting finalists and posting them to the Virgin Australia website for voting. Here’s the winning video submission:
Similarly Delegates were asked to submit entries of their experiences in Queensland using the Hashtag #thisisqueensland in conjunction with the #PBEvent Hashtag to collect entries into a competition to win a trip back to the Gold Coast. Here’s the winning submission:
The early bird release of ProBlogger 2013 tickets were announced using the event Hashtag (and a variety of other promotional methods). The event sold out in no time at all, with subsequent releases experiencing similar results even though the number of tickets available to the event was almost double the number available the previous year. This success is partly due to the fact that the #PBEvent Hashtag is a “recognised” Hashtag within the blogging community. ProBlogger 2013 was the fourth ProBlogger event, with the same Hashtag being used each year. By not changing the Hashtag each year, ProBlogger is able to build on the existing audience around this Hashtag at each event.
With so much positive activity, particularly the social proof in regards to the quality of the content presented at #PBEvent, the Hashtag also created the perfect vehicle for promoting the sale on the ProBlogger Virtual Ticket pass before, during and after the event.
This will no doubt generate a significant additional revenue stream for the event.
Give Back – Promote A Charity
When a Hashtag starts to trend, as was the case for the #PBEvent Hashtag in days leading up to and during the event, it is a great opportunity to use this exposure for social good.
ProBlogger chose to promote the Love Your Sister (#LoveYourSister) charity both at the event and via the #PBEvent Hashtag, assisting Samuel Johnson in his crusade to raise $1million for cancer by riding around Australia on a unicycle!
More than $2,500 was raised in less than 24hrs as a direct result of this promotion. No doubt this amount will continue to increase over time as a result of the increased awareness of this charity as a result of this partnership.
Promote All Event Associated Hashtags Like Crazy!
ProBlogger did a great job in promoting the #PBEvent Hashtag in the lead up, during and after the event. Some of the ways you can promote Hashtags around your events include:
- Keeping the Hashtag as close as possible to the event name;
- Including a Hashtag in the event title itself (if appropriate);
- Keeping the same Hashtag or only changing it slightly from year to year by changing the date (e.g. #PBEvent2013);
- Including the Hashtag in all information distributed regarding the event (e.g. on tickets, brochures, websites, press releases, etc);
- Promoting the Hashtag at the event (e.g. in sessions, on delegate passes, within programs, behind the toilet doors, etc);
- Continuing to use the Hashtag when communicating about the event once it has completed; and
- Encouraging delegates to use the Hashtag whenever posting in the lead up to, during and after the event
Most importantly, you need to promote an environment where your delegates want to use your event Hashtag. This is the type of environment that was created at #PBEvent 2013 and the number one reason why the use of Hashtags was so successful for this event.
Here is a short clip of some of the content I shared using the #PBEvent Hashtag at ProBlogger 2013:
Have you seen Hashtags used successfully at events? If so, let us know why you thought they were successful in the comments below.