This week I had the honor of being a keynote speaker for 'MPI of Greater Orlando Area Chapter' on social media marketing with a focus on Twitter and Instagram.
Since I was speaking mainly for event and sales managers that work in the hospitality industry, I decided to focus my topic on marketing for events and meetings. Today I wanted to pass along this useful information and explain how easy it is to market your event by leveraging hashtags
What is a #hashtag?
According to Mashable, they define the hashtag as "the pound sign (or hash) that turns any word or group of words into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords."
So let's be hypothetical here. Let's say you are visiting 'The Lazy Tree Hotel' this weekend and you knew the hotel was actively a part of Twitter. If you wanted to learn more about what's going on at the hotel or what people are saying you would include #LazyTreeHotel in your tweet to join the conversation. To further investigate The LazyTree Hotel, you could click on the hashtags associated, to see all the posts that mention the subject in real time.
History of the #hashtag
History can be boring, so I'll make this short. Basically, a developer from Twitter named Chris Messina proposed in 2007, that they should group topics together by using the hash symbol. At first, Twitter slammed the idea and said no. However, later in the same year, some journalists decided to capitalize on Chris's idea and began using the hashtag #SanDiegoFire in their tweet updates on a series of San Diego forest fires.
From there, the hashtag set fire (in a good way) and users and brands across the world now use hashtags to break into the conversation scene.
Hashtags now are being used across a plethora of social networks. Particularly Twitter and Instagram.
Even the first Lady dips into hashtags.
The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was created and used in hopes of keeping the story in the news and bringing international attention to it. The hashtag, used by first lady Michelle Obama, was created to raise awareness for the kidnapped girls. The hashtag in itself has received 2 million retweets to date. (Wikipedia)
So now that you have a bit of background on what a hashtag is and where it came from, let's learn more about how you can use this incredible invention to supercharge your marketing for your next event.
How to Leverage Hashtags & Supercharge your Event Marketing
Event and meeting planners and anyone working to promote an event need to remember that you have to keep the momentum going before, during, and after the big day! If you want to make the most out of the conversation you've got to be on top of your A-Game!
Before the Event
1. Create a Buzz
Have you ever noticed how far in advanced movie previews come out before the actual movies? Varying on the different directors, 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 is all about the event. Be creative during this step and use your hotel (as we mentioned "The Lazy Tree Hotel") or any business at that, in the hashtag to keep it as relevant as possible. Having a hashtag will allow participants and those interested in your brand, a chance to talk about the upcoming event among one another
NOTE: Before finalizing your hashtag, be sure to research it and make sure it's not being used by anyone else.
3. Market your Event Hashtag
Once you've decided on your hashtag you will want to plaster it everywhere. Print it on all of your marketing material including:
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 will 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. 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 for those that use twitter and it will extend your hashtag's organic reach for free!
During the Event
1. Assign someone to manage your Twitter during the event.
During the event, it is 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! (Duh)
2. Have the Host of the Event Mention the Hashtag
Attendees often use 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.
Below is the hashtag that MPI of Greater Orlando used at the social media luncheon I spoke at. Notice how attendees used the hashtag and MPI Greater Orlando responded by retweeting the picture and using the hashtag to thank them. Engagement win!
After the Event
The after is just as important as the before! Here are a few tips on what to do after your event is over. To take full advantage of the successful event you just completed follow these best practices:
• Thank your attendees. It’s simple, but it’s an important gesture to express your gratitude for the people that made your event a success
• Retweet Tweets from attendees
• Publish Event Highlights
– Images of key moments
– Recap video, blog, or infographic
– 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
• Tweet out a survey asking attendees for feedback to make your future events better
There is 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.
For more information on using hashtags or marketing for an event- contact me!