As social media increasingly makes an impact in our everyday lives, the use of hashtags (#) plays a vital part in the information we see and engage with as an audience, but also as a business. But what exactly is a hashtag and how do they work?

Explained simply, it is a word, phrase, name or acronym, which when preceded with a # symbol becomes clickable, and leads to a filtered page on a social network where the same #word has been used by other users in posts. They are used in a variety of ways such as to share news, to give extra context to a post or for an event. On social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter, once a hashtag has been used multiple times, it will climb up the ladder to reach their trending topics section, displayed on the homepages of the sites.

Originating its social presence on Twitter, the hashtag has recently celebrated its 10th birthday, proving its popularity is here to stay as it is absorbed by more websites and more users.

In this article, we will look at how event professionals should include hashtags throughout their event process, and the do’s and don’ts of using the iconic # symbol.

Before The Event

It’s never too early to create your hashtag phrase to promote your business or event. Consider the length of the hashtag. Different social media platforms have limited characters, for example a tweet can only be 140 characters so it’s ideal to keep your phrase or word as short as possible, ensuring it still relates back to your event or company’s appearance.

Using your hashtag before your event is a free method of marketing – so make the most of it! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube all support them, therefore use your phrase on all your social media accounts to engage as many users as possible. Whenever you post anything related to your event, make sure to include your hashtag, along with any other relevant phrases. A common one for event professionals is #EventProfs but be sure to research any other key words related to your event and its theme, for example if it is a technology conference, be sure to use relevant hashtags such as #technology or #virtualreality. The event itself will almost certainly be using a hashtag so research into the official one being used to incorporate into your social content. Even consider the location of the event such as #OlympiaLondon or #Brighton to attract local attention on the build-up to the show you’re attending.

During The Event

A hashtag is a fantastic way to not only build atmosphere before your event, but can also be used during the event to uphold audience engagement and view real-time social media mentions.

It is growing increasingly common to see exhibitors with social media walls on their exhibition stand. A social media wall is primarily a digital display, showing people who either @mention your company or use your specified hashtag, viewing it on a live feed. It’s a great way to publicise your hashtag and your business, but also bold way to encourage attendees to engage with your stand, clearly seeing their social media content appear on the wall.

During your event, boost the use of the hashtag by incentivising it with a competition or exclusive content. Give people more of a reason to share it by rewarding them during or after the event with entertainment, photo opportunities or as an entry to win a prize.

Although it is to be used on your social media profiles, you can also promote your hashtag through other mediums. Make sure it is clearly visible on any products or leaflets you are handing out, so that even after the event your visitors can share your hashtag on their social media channels.

Post Event

It may be after the event, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t carry on using your #hashtag. It’s a great tool to keep content flowing about the show, use it to share photos and highlights from your appearance as well as interact with audiences’ content. To build suspense, you can also announce winners to your competition post-event to uphold your attendees’ attention and excitement over you and your event.

Consistency is key: it’s never too early to be talking about next year’s appearance. Maintain the same hashtag, or if you are using a year, start using one with the following year on, for example “Did you enjoy #Confex17? We would like to announce we will also be appearing at #Confex18!”. It’s a good idea to adopt the new hashtag early, ensuring that there is no other association with it that may be unrelated to the event.

#Checklist

Here are our top tips for the creation of your Hashtag:

Length

The Hashtag originated from Twitter, which is a social media platform known for its short posts, consisting of 140 characters or less. Although other social channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn do not have character limits, for consistency it’s best to keep your phrase as clear and concise as possible.

Use of Capitals

If your hashtag phrase is longer than one word, it is crucial to take into account the use of capitals. Although this will not affect the content that comes under your hashtag regardless of the use, it is a lot clearer to read, for example #designedbyidentity vs. #DesignedByIdentity. Many a hashtag fail has fallen due to this issue so it is a vital point to consider when creating your key word.

How Many To Use

We recommend you use your own hashtag in all your relevant copy, but where possible we also suggest including other related terms too. Mentioned previously, if your event has a theme or is industry specific, research into these hashtags and use them.

On many social media sites there is no limit as to how many you can use, but different channels have different rules. For example, on Twitter you are limited to characters only, so it is important to consider only using one or two key phrases if possible, ensuring you don’t compromise on your copy.

Whereas on Instagram, the social norm is to use a combination of hashtags to reach various target audiences. In contrast to other social media channels, it is common to see that users will post their collection of around 15 hashtags in the comments section. Predominantly a mobile used platform, posting your hashtags in a comment means they will be hidden from view unless clicked on, making sure it doesn’t clog up the feed with text instead of imagery.

It’s wise to do your research on each social platform, to optimise your contents visibility to multiple, but relative target audiences without either being unrelated or too much like spam.

Summary

As these iconic social tools are being used by many users across the internet, it’s wholly recommended to adopt your own unique hashtag ready for your next event to attract a wider audience with increased engagement. They can be included into your exhibition stand seamlessly and be the hub of your competitions, adding value to your brand as well as your appearance at your event.

For more information on how we can assist you with your events marketing, contact us today at 01323 46911 or email us at letstalk@identitygroup.co.uk.