How Event-Hashtags Increase Social Engagement
Nowadays, hashtags are omnipresent – on Twitter, Facebook, yadda-yadda-yadda… no self-respecting marketer can live without one. Actually called meta data tags, hashtags are used to find messages with a specific content or topic, by allowing users to tag, group and search similar topics – nothing new so far, right? So what are event-hashtags?
No surprise, the main purpose of an event-hashtag is to promote an event, no matter if it’s taking place on- or offline. In this post, you will learn from our recent experience how to gain up to 4 times more engagement on social media than your main competitors, just by using event-hashtags!
The breakdown of what we’ll cover:
- What to consider when creating event-hashtags
- How to infiltrate other events (and widen your audience)
- How event-hashtags can effectively boost your social reach and engagement
What to Consider When Creating Your Own Event-Hashtags
Keep KISSing all the way! Keep It Short and Simple. Mostly, the hashtag is a combination of the name of the event plus its location or year in which it’s taking place. This makes it both easy to find and easy to remember. Here are some examples of hashtags we have recently used: #HITECtor (Toronto) #HITEC2017
In most cases, you are not the organiser of the event or trade show, as with the examples above. This means that the event-hashtag has already been defined by another marketing team (not under your control). But you still want to be part of the game, right? We recommend having a look at the website or social media sites of the event itself (organiser) and scroll through their latest postings. You will definitely find some event-hashtags there, even long before the event takes place.
By the way, if you have trouble finding the event-hashtag on the event’s own pages – you really should ask yourself if these guys are the right ones to be supporting…
Hashtagify.me is a Twitter hashtags search engine allowing you to find related hashtags. Its basic version is free, giving you insights of the popularity, correlation and trend of a hashtag. Click on the link and test it out now – if you don’t know it yet (opens in another tab). It’s very simple to get the feel for.
Another way to benefit from an external hashtag is to take the event’s name and add something unique and/or related to your company or business. Doing this, you create a bridge from external to internal content, the perfect place to show off your content curation skills (more on this in another post).
How to Infiltrate Other Events By Using Event-Hashtags
Basically, there are 3 main phases of an event, when it comes to social media communication:
The trick is to generate interesting content, even before the event has started. We usually do the first postings at least one month in advance, helping to secure our brand as one of the early adopters to be associated with the event. So far, so good. But what to post?
Have a look at this example for the HITEC Toronto, the world’s largest hospitality technology show:
Admittedly, it was quite easy to create some graphics related to our booth 727. Who, in the hospitality and travel space, can’t get excited about a magic old jet-liner? Just create or buy the graphics that you need, and be sure to brand them in your corporate design. Try to stand out from what your competitors do, or what is usually seen in this space. Dare to be different! Dare to be unique! Dare to break out of corporate standards! Remember, your postings need to catch immediate attention at first glance.
Also here, you do not get a second chance to make that first impression. No pressure!
Try taking some pictures during the journey to the event, at the airport, at the destination or during the preparations for the event. Share the anticipation of the upcoming event with your followers – and, of course, by using relevant event-hashtags 😉 Don’t forget to brief your representatives/show-crew beforehand. We’ve found our crew always have an idea or two better than our own!
Also, if you are about to launch a new product, or have some genuinely interesting news, do tell your audience about it in advance, and tempt them to your booth.
2: Event phase
Now, it’s do or die! Time to ‘own’ the event-hashtags by constantly updating your followers with exciting new content. Here are some motives and ideas to ensure this:
- Post photos with important people related to your industry (customers, partners, influencer, …)
- Show the world how awesome your booth is
- Post photos/videos of your representatives holding a presentation
- Jump into discussions (e.g. Facebook/LinkedIn groups, Twitter lists)
Let’s say you have reached your followers prior to the event and also provided them with compelling content during the event. Great job! However, this is also the time when a lot of companies abruptly stop interacting with ‘their people’ in the social space. Don’t be a party-pooper! Keep your audience engaged, all the way home.
Try doing something like this:
You think the image above is too crazy for a business posting, don’t you? Wrong! Go and stand in the corner. This is exactly what ‘social’ is all about – dare to be unique! There’s plenty of other players in the B2B space who will post their royalty-free images and clip art efforts. That’s the stuff that gets ignored – so that’s not what you do, is it? And most importantly, focus on your people, your team, your vibe. Because the people behind the scenes is what the social community wants to see, not (only) the product.
Here is what Jeremy Armes, our VP of Marketing, always says:
“FACEbook: the clue is in the name!” (BTW, true for all the social media channels – get your face out there)
Post-event, presenting the experiences and results to your whole team creates a feeling of unity. Bringing the “Olympic flame” back from wherever you were always has a bonding effect on the team. This is what we did, a few days after returning from #HITECtor – and we re-used the event-hashtag too, and got some more social love off the back of it as well.
Sharing really is caring 😉
We presented and shared everything that had happened, from all levels, with everyone at our HQ in Dortmund. The focus was on the great success we experienced presenting our brand new protel.I/O Enterprise Hospitality Framework which connects all areas of the hotel’s technical infrastructure. It allows data to pass freely between otherwise disparate ecosystems.
How can event-hashtags boost your social reach and engagement?
So now it’s time to prove how powerful it is to use social media and event-hashtags before, during and after events that you are organising or participating in. Well, it’s proof if you believe we’ve not manipulated the screen-grabs. What we did was to manually aggregate the data from the monitoring tools we use and drop them into a spreadsheet of choice.
When we talk about social media statistics, we usually talk about social signals. Social signals are reactions, such as likes, shares, comments of a person to a posting. The following chart shows you how many times people liked and shared our HITEC-Postings overall (with #HITECTor), on Facebook and Twitter.
It compares our own performance (in red) against another global player who was also at the event (in blue):
With 504 Facebook-likes, our content has been liked almost 4 times more often than the content of one of our major competitors. On Twitter, it’s 117 likes for protel vs 72 competitor-likes. Comparing the Facebook-shares and Twitter-retweets, we got almost 3 times more shares on Facebook and more than 2 times more retweets on Twitter. This is particularly refreshing, as although our overall Facebook follower-numbers are fairly level with this particular competitor, they actually have a much larger Twitter audience.
19,332 people have been reached on Facebook. 21,081 times users saw our tweets on Twitter. Both using #HITECTor and #HITECprotel event-hashtags. And this is only on Facebook and Twitter, we did LinkedIn and Instagram as well.
It’s definitely time to get started on increasing your social media activities – just by using event-hashtags!
You can both create your own event-hashtags and infiltrate those of others. By doing so, remember the 3 phases:
If we can do it, so can you!
Create your distinctive and unique content today and post it frequently, especially during your event.
Use the comments below to share your experiences with event-hashtags!
I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have.
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Marketing Communications Manager at protel hotelsoftware GmbH, Germany.