Hashtag Guide for Events: How to Use Hashtags

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We cannot say this enough! Hashtags are here to stay! Hashtags have changed the way information is relayed and can bring people together in ways that few other things can.  

With these tools, the information people receive is no longer limited to the people around them; in fact, with the help of hashtags, people can now spread an idea or a revolution across political and geographical boundaries.

Given that these tools are now part of the world’s social structure, it is no surprise that brands have also boarded the #wagon! With the right use of hashtags, brands have been able to shine a light on themselves without being annoying successfully.  

Companies now have social media experts who work full time to maintain the brand’s social media accounts and help run campaigns that produce high ROIs.

Are you also interested in becoming a Social Media Expert? Enroll in our social media course today and learn ways to use #socialmedia to amplify your brand’s message.

So what are hashtags?

Do they really help spread your word?

Are you making good use of it?

Let’s find out!

History of Hashtags

The hashtag that we use today came from Chris Messina, a former developer lead at Google, who suggested that people use the pound (#) symbol to categorize their tweets. In this way, people could filter the tweets on their feed and keep out the irrelevant ones. While the idea didn’t stick immediately, it crept its way around the social media platform when Nate Ritter tweeted about the San Diego fire using the hashtag “San Diego Fire.”

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Nate Ritter’s Tweet was the first ever use of hashtag on Twitter

The rest, as they say, is history.

What is a Hashtag?

A hashtag is a meta tag that allows you to categorize your social media content. Hashtags are words or phrases that follow a pound symbol (#) to tell your audiences what your content is about.

For example: If you want to tweet about a Taylor Swift concert, then you would use #TaylorSwiftconcert in your tweet. It’s just that simple! This way people looking for information about the show will be able to use the same hashtag to do so.

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Like everything else, there are rules (well, not rules, maybe guidelines) when you use hashtags on social media. These ‘rules’ or best practices help you amplify your message by reaching a wide range of people.

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While a lot of people are unhappy with the hashtag revolution (we’re looking at you, Jimmy Fallon), no one can deny the importance of hashtags today.
Jimmy Fallon Hashtag

Source: Popkey

From starting revolutions (#ArabSpring) to raising awareness (ALS #IceBucketChallenge), hashtags are a vital part of the social ethos.

So, how does a hashtag work and how do you use hashtags?

While hashtags work on various social media sites, not all sites are created equal. Some social media platforms react better to hashtags than others.

For example, on Twitter and Instagram, hashtags become searchable links that direct people to all the conversations taking place that use the same hashtag. This means that you can see what people are saying about an event irrespective of whether or not you know them.

On the other hand, hashtags on Facebook haven’t really picked up. Posts on Facebook with hashtags don’t fare well, which is a stark difference from other social media sites.

According to Buffer, Twitter posts with hashtags have twice the engagement rates as those without, while tweets with 1 or 2 hashtags have 21% more engagement than those with 3-4 hashtags, while posts on Facebook with hashtags have decreased levels of engagement.

Here is a consolidated list of social media platforms and the ideal number of hashtags for each of them.

Social Media Platform Ideal Number of Hashtags
Twitter 1 or 2
Instagram 11
Facebook 0

While hashtags are a great way to get people to find your posts, it is vital to make sure your content is well-written and matches the tag, or you could get blacklisted.

Why are Hashtags Important?

Hashtags are essential because they perform the following tasks:

  • They help people filter the content they receive
  • They help people access information they otherwise would not have received

Think about how Twitter and Instagram work. If you aren’t connected to someone, there is no way you have access to their content, even if what they have to say is highly relevant to you.

With a hashtag (#) on the other hand, you now have access to content based on your interest, instead of who you know. This simple # symbol has revolutionized what social media has set out to do. Make information available at your fingertips.

You could say, hashtags have helped social media platforms be more social.

So, when do you use a hashtag?

Simply put, you use a hashtag when you want your content to reach the people who need your information.

How to create the perfect hashtag for your event?

Finding the perfect hashtag is not as complicated as it is made out to be. Use the steps given below to construct an optimal hashtag for your event.
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1. Identify the tone of the event

What kind of event is your brand hosting? Is it edgy, chic, or bright and fun?

These are the questions you’ll need to answer before embarking on a quest to find the perfect hashtag. To make the ideal hashtag, it is vital that your hashtag phrase matches the tone of the event.

Hashtags work because they amplify your brand and its ethos. They reflect your brand’s message; you’re fun, sassy, intellectual or witty based on the hashtags you use. People want to associate with all the things mentioned above. If your hashtag is uninteresting, then no one wants to repost your tag.

Think about it – If your event revolves around Halloween, a #HalloweenIsFun does not reflect the sentiments of the affair. Instead, it gives your audience the impression that your hashtag is dissociated from your event and that you haven’t put much thought into the whole process.  

  1. Keep it short and memorable

The primary goal of a hashtag is to spread your word. If your hashtag is long, then people won’t (or can’t) repost it. Make sure that you create hashtags that are easy to remember and easy to spell.

For ex. The hashtag #vintageorretro (vintage or retro) would be great # for a clothing event. It’s short; it’s engaging – users can respond to the post with #vintage or #retro, and it’s memorable.

Keep in mind that shortening the spelling of a word can confuse people. If you are promoting an event with the hashtag #vntgorret, then people will not repost because they do not understand it.

While it’s great to experiment with hashtags, you shouldn’t lose track of their real purpose; to categorize and filter information.

  1. Keep it original

Hijacking an active hashtag is rarely a good idea. It muddles up a chain of conversations. People who use this hashtag will be bombarded with tweets from unrelated events that also use the hashtag phrase. This could lead to tons of confusion and cause your audience to drop the hashtag altogether.

Additionally, history is a valuable teacher. We have seen in the past that several companies have burned themselves by using already-active hashtags.

Take the #WhyIStayed campaign, which was started initially by Beverly Gooden to bring awareness to domestic violence. DiGiorno, a pizza joint, decided to increase its user engagement and also used #WhyIstayed to spread the word about their pizza. Needless to say; Twitter users were enraged, and mayhem arose.

  1. Make sure it doesn’t read inappropriately

This seems like an obvious statement, but it isn’t. There have been some hilarious (and unfortunate) incidents surrounding hashtags that were intended for one thing but sounded like another.

An example of this scenario is the #nowthatthacherisdead (Now that Thatcher is dead), which soon became “Now that Cher is Dead.” Word spread that Cher died and panic was soon all around.

Rules of using hashtags for events

Hashtags are sometimes spontaneous phrases that catch on like wildfire, but often, they need to be nurtured and cared for before they spread.

So, what is the right way to promote your hashtag? There are 3 phases of using hashtags.

Before an event

Start promoting your hashtag as soon as possible. Use it in your tweets, your bio, and your social media accounts (think Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram).

Use your Instagram platform to post behind-the-scenes photos of the event. Behind-the-scenes images work because they make people feel like they are part of the event tribe.

During the event

During the event, your primary goal is to ensure that the hashtag is used as frequently as possible.

To ensure that people engage with your hashtag:

  • Place it in visible places –  You could place huge placards on tables with the hashtag on them so people could photograph themselves with it (Brownie points to you if your food is well-presented).
  • Use props – Place oversized glasses, funny wigs, outrageous hats and cut out figures so people can use them with your hashtags. People love photographing themselves in weird and outrageous costumes and poses. You could even place disposable cameras on each table for people to take photos of themselves (the retro way)
  • props-to-promote-hashtags

    Where there are props, there are photo opportunities

  • Encourage people to interact with the hashtag – Photo booths are a great way to get people to take pictures of themselves. You can also start contests with giveaways for people who have used the hashtag creatively.

After the event

Don’t stop using the hashtag after the affair. Keep the conversation going (perhaps for next year). Use the hashtag to post throwback GIFs, images or videos. Create an album with all the photos with the hashtags. This helps lay the groundwork for your next event.

hashtag-party-clown

You can also use hashtags to show fun bloopers. It’s fun, and it’s light! Post images of people having fun while messing up or of props falling off. Just make sure you do this in good faith. It’s not cool to poke fun at someone.

Tools to help with hashtags

There are tons of tools out there to help automate your social media accounts. While these tools are great for social media accounts in general, the ones given below are specifically for hashtags and help you discover and analyze their performance.

  1. Hashtagify – This free social media tool is a great way come up with new hashtag ideas. The tool considers itself to be a demi search engine for hashtags. With this tool, you can identify trending hashtags, the influencers who are using it and other hashtags related to it as well. Along with this, Hashtagify also comes with a basic analytics overview to help you see how well a hashtag is doing.
  2. Hootsuite – This social media tool is used to queue your posts and automate the process of posting on social media sites. However, that is not all that this tool does. With Hootsuite, you can make reports suited to meet the needs of your company. With this tool, you can track hashtags and their mentions for a specified period.
  3. Instagram Analytics by TINT – The free Instagram analytics tool from TINT is perfect for tracking the success (or lack of) of your hashtag. The tool can help you monitor how many people made use of your hashtag over a period and when they used it the most. This tool is multi-faceted and also helps you determine who the Instagram influencers are in your field and what post works and what doesn’t.
  4. Rebel Mouse – A content management system that is meant to bring social to the front – that’s the best way to describe Rebel Mouse. It is the perfect tool if you are running your campaign on multiple platforms. The tool pulls conversations that use your target on any social media platform and brings them together under one roof. This is not only a great tool to help you understand your hashtag’s performance, but also to amplify your message by bringing countless users onto one platform.
  5. Tagboard - If Pinterest met Twitter, you’d get Tagboard. This social media tool pulls all conversations that revolve around a hashtag and displays them in a neat file on one platform. The pricing of the tool is a bit steep, and the starter pack costs about $500 per event. However, the paid version comes with campaign stats to show you the ROI of your hashtag campaign and a customizable API access feature. It’s an excellent option to have if money is not a concern.

Conclusion

So, now you know. Hashtags are great, and they’re here to stay. As a marketer for a firm, you’ll do well to adapt to them and make use of them to spread the word about your brand. Keep in mind that hashtags even the playing field; smaller brands now have a shot at competing with bigger brands. To utilize this potential would be a waste of wonderful resources.

Do reach out to us in the comment section if there is something we have missed (or if you just want to say hi)!

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