So it certainly is the year of the hashtag! Who would have thought that the little underused symbol would have such an important role in the world. A topic organisation system, that all important, current, real time, search marketing staple allowing users to engage in conversations and to create topics and group their own tweets with others on a whatever theme they wish! Some would argue that the little hashtag is social media’s biggest icon. I would agree with these people. Google, Twitter, You Tube, Tumblr, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterestand now Facebook are in. On all of these platforms, the hashtag has the same job and this role is going to develop more and more as time goes on.
Let’s face it, it’s not just used at the end of an emotive tweet; “Just paid full price of a pair of shoes. #fail”, “Watching Channel4?#LOL” and as we saw in Kevin Basset’s infographic last week, it’s had a ripe old journey so far!
Hashtags are now able to help machines understand what is trending, who is liking the trending topic, when it is trending, where it is trending and not far off…why! And because of the trend for using hashtags to give emotional or humorous context to posts, they can also help machines understand and process people´s feelings. This represents a huge leap towards a semantic web environment where machines can analyse meaning. Google has already started using hashtags as part of its semantic web strategy, by enabling Google+ to automatically assign hashtags to posts.
So with all this in mind, it is hardly surprising that huge companies and brands are jumping on the bandwagon and sucking the juice out of the hashtag.
New York Magazine reveals there are seven types of Twitter hashtag abusers! This one particularly made me laugh…
“#TheHashtagStringer: They think it’s cute to string together #Abunchofwordslikethis. And it is sort of fun and clever, at least the first 157 times you see it. The joke is stale, the fun is over, let’s give the stringer a rest. (#OhWhoAmIKidding.)” We all know someone that does that right!?
But where I have found it almost a lifeline is running events. Having a hashtag strategy will be the primary concern of event marketers in 2014. So what strategy works?
Here are my 7 tips that will stand the test of time:
1. Begin your hashtag a few weeks before the actual event and hook people into the mystery/information/fun/emotion etc.
2.Use the hashtag in the title of your event! This will go on all promo material, on and offline. Flyers, Posters, Websites, Banners etc.
3. During the event, don’t forget the hashtag! Live tweeting from an event is on the money, will get all the ‘back row’ folk interested and wishing they’d have parted with their cash!
4. Use brand association where possible. For example, what brands, services, other events, people fit your event? Who would be interested? Get in touch with them and work out a mutually beneficial collaboration to expand your reach.
5. Monitor your own hashtag. Search it online, on all channels and see if anyone is mentioning you!
6. After the event, create a transcript from Twitter so people can catch up or analyse.
7. Lastly, now you can analyze all the great information you’ve collected. There are Twitter tools that can help you analyze hashtag streams and most are free!
Social Media Today posted some handy tips for using hashtags for your event. They talk about how to choose one that works to promotional advice. Well worth a read.