Hashtag Best Practices for Events

You don’t have to be a social media guru, ninja, or expert to use a hashtag. But if you’ve read that first line and are still scratching your head, perhaps a simple definition is in order.

  • A hashtag is simply a label for content. It is used mostly on Twitter but you can also use them on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.
  • Hashtags are useful for searching a topic.

Perhaps our friends Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake can explain it better.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been part of big events in Orange County that required the use of a hashtag.

For the Knott’s Scary Farm event, for example, I was an attendee and thus, used a hashtag to relate my experiences at the event with my online audience. Later, the organizers and public relations people behind Scary Farm were able to use their event hashtag to not only generate online buzz for the event, but also to later collect and analyze data.

My friend Alison Stripling of Cornerstone Creative Online Marketing for Entrepreneurs says that for her, using an event hashtag in her social media posts has been beneficial.
“Using the hashtag at an event helps me get found in social as well as connect with influencers. Most keynote speakers that I tweet and follow at a conference will follow me back.”

For event organizers, it is imperative that you create an event hashtag.
Recently, I helped out with the Surf City Surf Dog competition in Huntington Beach, CA. We used the hashtag #surfcitysurfdog. Not only were media and the blogosphere engaged with us using the hashtag, even regular people who were at the event or wanting to be used the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

My friend Public Relations expert, Kristen Hinman of Groff-Hinman, Inc. says:
“Before an event, plan what your hashtag will be ahead of time. Keep it short and unique to your event and use the same one across all media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.). Let attendees know what it will be ahead of time to get the buzz going early.”

In a nutshell, here are my social media hashtag tips:

  • Create a HASHTAG specifically for the event.
  • Start building buzz online even before the event by using the hashtag in social media promotions.
  • Share the hashtag with people associated with the event including vendors, sponsors and guests so they can engage in online conversations about the event.
  • Finally, during the event, having a hashtag will help organize conversations surrounding the event – it can help hype it up, entice people to join in, or simply record information.