Is an event hashtag something you typically think of early or late in your event planning process? If you’re in the habit doing it two weeks before an event, you might want to think again.
Studies have shown that Tweets with a hashtag get 2x the engagement than those which don’t. So why miss out on helping delegates engage with your conference or event brand and leave it till the last-minute? Given today’s marketing is heading towards the direction of being socially driven, it’s probably a good time to reconsider and spend some time at the start to get the hashtag right.
1. It signals that you’re on Social Media
In Australia, one of our major banks has posted ads featuring the hashtag #moreless.
If you saw this 5 years ago, you probably wouldn’t know what to do.
Today, with 21% of the world’s internet population using Twitter every month and 665 million daily active users on Facebook, many people are aware that hashtags clearly signal a presence on social media.
By promoting the hashtag, you’ve told your audience that you’re ready to engage on social media without further explanation.
2. It tells people what to search for on Social Media
When marketers create websites, they have to guess what people might type into a search engine and to craft content that would rank highly on the search listings. Half the battle is to figure out the search terms that somebody would type.
The hashtag removes the guesswork over what to search for. And because there’s already awareness that a hashtag is associated with social media, it tells people what to type in to search on social media.
And when they do search for the hashtag, they will find posts and people who are linked as what is presented is no longer random postings from a network, but posts that belong to people having an interest in your event.
You can use this to find out what others are saying. Without it, nobody would know what to search for.
3. It creates a water-cooler
The water-cooler is a place that many office workers might congregate. Aside from the hydration benefits, it creates a focal point where co-workers can meet up, exchange ideas, stories and problems.
A hashtag creates a water-cooler on social media for people to congregate and check. Given that you going to bring everybody physically together, it only makes sense to create a similar focal point online. This gives people a chance to meet, exchange ideas and network with people online.
Without a hashtag, there is no water cooler. People would post their thoughts without anybody else knowing about it. The hashtag is what links the posts together, creating a point of interest that people watch and post against.
4. It enables word of mouth marketing
Most people trust the recommendations of their friends. This is the reason you might be hired at your next job if somebody you know recommends you for the position, despite an employer not having any former working relationship with you.
Word of mouth marketing is enabled on social media as people who see various posts repost/reshare the same post to their network of connections who in turn might do the same. This chain of events can really help amplify your reach and conversion. Given that many people are more likely to buy something based on a friends recommendation, the same could be true for events.
If you are attending an event, chances are your colleagues would be interested too. This would be true no matter what industry or event and having a hashtag enables this process as it helps others to know what hashtag to follow.
5. It bridges Social Media Platforms
In Aug 23, 2007 Chris Messina posted:
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
This was the first use of a hashtag on Twitter. Since then, hashtags have appeared on many social media platforms, and all of them allow you to search by a hashtag. Which is why hashtags are universal, letting you tell people what to tag your post with, without telling them which network to post on.
From a marketing point of view, this is great as it broadens your reach yet creates a water cooler that you can monitor. You can further amplify this at an event by telling your delegates which social media platform you’ll be using at the event to create critical mass facilitating conversations and networking. We think Twitter is a great platform for this, and with a growth rate of 44%, many others are quickly catching on.
Beware, not all social networks respond to hashtags in the same way
Hashtagging was born on Twitter. It gave Twitter users a terse way to tag a post. And if you only have 140 characters, being terse was incredibly important for Twitter.
However, this 140 character restriction was never in place for Facebook or Google+. But the idea of tagging a post so similar posts could be located was a great idea, so most social networks copied it.
But a post by EdgeRank Checker seems to suggest that hashtags will do nothing for viral promotion on Facebook. In fact, their data suggests it might very well be the opposite.
Like with all things, take this with a pinch of salt as the author even suggests:
… hashtagged posts don’t have the expected increase in Viral Reach due to how brand’s are using them. After examining how hashtags are being used, hashtags are often used in promotional material. For some brands, they’ve created campaigns around particular hashtags and use them in all posts associated with the campaign. By nature, campaigns are promotional, therefore more likely to drive less engagement, less clicks, and ultimately less Reach.
It isn’t to say hashtagging doesn’t work. In fact, it’s vital if you’re on Twitter. But it pays to understand how your social media network responds and like with all things, don’t over use it to promote.
So get going…
Get going, and start publicising your hashtag early and get delegates tracking and conversing and if you’re using an event app like Confui, we’ll package the hashtag with your app. This lets you release your event app early and reap the benefits of a hashtag to help bring delegates together, letting you create your water cooler and get the conversations happening, well ahead of your event.