Hashtags can be a great way to promote events and invite participants to engage in the surrounding conversation. But an important note that event and meeting planners need to keep in mind is that you need to build momentum before, then keep it going during and after the big day in order to maximize your results.
If you want to make the most out of the conversation, you need to be on top of your game. Here are some tips on how to utilize hashtags in your event marketing plan.
Before the Event
1. Create a Buzz
Have you ever noticed how far in advance movie previews come out before the actual movie? At times, I've seen previews come out between 6 months to a whole year before the movie is even released.
They start by giving you a little and then as the months go by they feed you more and more to build up the anticipation. This is exactly what you should be doing for your event - building anticipation and creating a buzz.
But how do you go about this the right way? Easy, you configure a timeline and start spooning small "bites" to your audience to get them excited. A dedicated social media manager should be in charge of this, but if you don't have one on staff, a marketing associate can be just as helpful.
2. Decide on an Event Hashtag
If you want people to join the conversation and hear about your event, you're going to need to introduce a hashtag that's dedicated to it. Be creative and use your brand or event name in the hashtag to keep it as relevant and focused as possible.
Having a unique hashtag will enable participants and those interested in your brand to talk about the upcoming event among one another, further building anticipation and engagement.
NOTE: Before finalizing your hashtag, be sure to research it and make sure it's not being used by anyone else (or for some other purpose)
3. Market your Event Hashtag
Once you've decided on your hashtag, you'll want to plaster it everywhere.
Print it on all of your marketing material including:
- Event Handouts
- Name Badges
- Your Email Signature
You can also embed your Twitter feed onto your website so people who visit you online will know what's going on.
To further your hashtag marketing tactics, incorporate social sharing buttons at the end of your event's registration process. This'll make it easier for signees to share the event with friends (Eventbrite offers this).
4. Offer Contests and Freebies
The best way to attract more people to your Twitter page and website is to offer a contest. Contests are a great way to extend the reach of your event's promotional campaign.
It could be something as easy as "Win 2 FREE tickets to this month's pool party event by telling your friends on Twitter and using the hashtag #LazyTreeParty." This type of promotion is user-friendly and will extend your hashtag's reach for free.
During the Event
1. Assign someone to manage your Twitter during the event
During the event, it's crucial to keep the conversation going. Have an assigned social media manager post tweets, quote speakers, post videos, take pictures of the event, share pictures of attendees, retweet, and basically act as the ambassador of the event.
And don't forget to add the hashtag to all posts and updates.
2. Have the Host of the Event Mention the Hashtag
Attendees will be using social networks to get updates and to communicate with other participants in a live environment so have the host of the event mention the hashtag too to further spread the word.
After the Event
The after is just as important as the before - to take full advantage of the successful event you just completed follow these best practices:
- Retweet tweets from attendees and thank them for attending
- Publish event highlights and images of key moments
- Post recap videos, blogs, or infographics
- Embed tweets attendees published during the event
- Share the slides from speakers' presentations
- Upload presentation slides to Slideshare and tweet a link to the slides using the event hashtag
- Tweet out a survey asking attendees for feedback to make your future events better
There are so many effective practices that you can integrate with Twitter to market your next event. The key to using Twitter productively is to start planning in advance and incorporate it into your event early in the process.