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Creating a unique #hashtag for your event

In a previous article, when speaking about how you can use Twitter to promote your event, we recommended you to use the almighty event #hashtag in order to gain more visibility. Today I want to talk more about the #hashtag in particular, to see how and why you should create a unique one for your event.

But first, let’s remember what a hashtag is. Google dictionary informs us that it’s “a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic”. In other words, it’s a searchable link used on social media platforms to categorize content, tying public conversation in one single stream.

hash sign followed by EventHashtag

Twitter was the first social media platform to use # as a searchable link. In 2007 user Chris Messina first brought it up on Twitter, but it took 2 more years before the feature went live. Twitter is not the only social platform to use the hashtag for grouping content anymore but it’s the platform where users use it the most, over 125 Million # being used every single day.

#hashtags are also used on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (tested it, stopped using it, started using it again) Google+ or Pinterest. Even Snapchat users are using it, although on this platform it can’t be used as a searchable link.

What can I include in a hashtag? 

Although I’m sure almost everyone knows how they look there is some specific information we need to know. Hashtags don’t support spaces, so if you want to to use multiple words you can use capitals to differentiate them (example: #ExperienceTech). Punctuation marks and special characters are not supported either but numbers are, so #WAM18 can be (and is) used as an event hashtag.

Why should I create an event hashtag?

Twitter capture of GuinessWorldRecord account

source: Twitter.com

 

 

 

 

What would you say if I told you that one hashtag, #AIDubEBTamangPanahon, connected over 40 million tweets and comments in just 24 hours? Yes, this is a world record, but it’s a good example of how the snowball hashtag can roll, getting bigger and bigger.

Using the right hashtag (or combination of hashtags) will help you keep your followers close, and also reach new ones. Someone interested in your event will simply click on the hashtag and will “gain access” to all content where your # was used.

Your unique #hashtag can be used in combination with other ones in order to increase your reach but used wrong hashtags can also decrease it. These charts will show you the number of hashtags you should use on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for a better reach.

Twitter: it’s not recommended to use more than two hashtags per post.

Facebook: don’t use more than 3 hashtags in one post.

Instagram: Instagrammers love hashtags, so it seems that posts with 9 hashtags have the best engagement. But as you can see, the more the merrier.

You can check out Socialmediatoday to find out more about the recommended length of a hashtag for this 3 social media platforms.

How should my event hashtag be?

Simple and easy to spell. Try keeping it as simple as possible, so people don’t find it hard to remember (or spell).The goal is to have it used as often as possible and a very complicated one won’t help you (yes,  #AIDubEBTamangPanahon seems anything but simple, but why take the risk?)

Unique. Make sure that your branded hashtag wasn’t used by another company before (#eventplanning or not). You want your hashtag to be associated with your event, not with dog food (although let’s face it, dogs are damn cool).

Relevant. Don’t use a hashtag that might mislead users, it will backfire for sure. Use something that represents your event, like #ETA2017 for Event TEchnology Awards 2017 or #burningman for…well, guess this one.

P.s. you should also check your hashtags for double-meaning and also you should say it out loud before using it, it may save you a lot of trouble afterward.

How should I use my event hashtag?

Your mission is to create meaningful events and the event hashtag is closely connected to it, so I want to show you how to best use your hashtag before, during, and after your event(s).

Before the event: Before the event, you should use it to create a buzz around it. This way more and more potential attendees find out about it.  For this, it’s best to ask all your partners to use the event hashtag. You can also create contests where the followers using your hashtag can win tickets to the event, backstage passes or any other event related prize. This way you will encourage people to use and share information about your event, meaning you will reach more and more potential attendees.

During the event: Experience taught us that attendees will post/tweet during events, letting their friends/followers know what a great time they are having. Or who they have just met.

picture of Gary Vaynerchuk and a fan from brandmind_asia's Instagram account

source: Instagram, brandminds_asia account

You can expand your reach by reposting (or retweeting) their content with your event’s “official” hashtag.  You will also show your attendees that you appreciate their social media posting.

After the event: Being used as searchable links, hashtags are great when looking for user-generated content. And considering the fact that over 85% of the millennials say User Generated Content is a good indicator of the quality of a brand you should really use testimonials in your favor. Curated UGC can boost registration for your future events and your event hashtag is a great way to identify it.

Events need sponsorship. Learn how to approach your future partners

Money is not the most important thing in life. The same goes for the event management scene: all the money in the world won’t guarantee that you’ll offer your guests the best experience. On the other hand, we must admit that money is an important asset when organizing events (conferences, festivals or concerts, it counts less). Those who have experience on their side know that there are two important aspects when looking at your cash-flow: smart tools (that give you instant access to ticket revenue) and sponsors. Obviously, there’s also the money that you are investing, but that’s a separate thing. And today I want to share with you some tips on how to do a better job when seeking (and negotiating) sponsorship for your next event.

Sponsors blog

There are different types of sponsorships, like cash sponsorship, media sponsorship, barter, and these ideas are useful for all; but initially, cash sponsorship stuck out.

*Disclaimer – I pinned down these ideas after a discussion with a friend of mine, a friend who’s job is to decide which events her company will sponsor and why.

 

1. Start with market research

It’s not easy to get sponsors for your event (that’s if you don’t have them crowding at your doorsteps already). And I assume that you don’t want to waste precious time with companies that wouldn’t sponsorship your event (there are many reasons for which someone would sponsor you, but there are also reasons for which it wouldn’t – and it’s not personal). It’s better to research which organizations sponsored which events and try to understand why. Look for:
-events similar to yours and the companies that offered sponsorship
-new companies that are trying to make themselves known (companies that offer small sponsorship to a large number of events)
-new companies that are trying to penetrate new (geographic or demographic) markets
-entities with the same set of values as yours (like Ted and Rolex for example, both treasuring time)

 

2. Your approach counts

Imagine these 2 different scenarios:
a. You receive an email from a stranger claiming that he organizes a conference that offers you the perfect chance to get brand recognition and leads. Although she/he has a nice proposal you find out this is the first edition of the event, meaning that the whole thing involves some level of risk.
b. Your friend calls you to invite you to a 3-way lunch: you two plus his/her former colleague that now owns an event planning business. And guess what: right now they are working on a conference that would offer you the perfect opportunity for fresh leads and brand recognition. Plus it’s their first edition so you can even negotiate a long-term partnership at a lower cost.
In which scenario do you think you would be more willing to sponsor the conference (assuming that there are no major differences between the two of them).
Fair or not, it’s also important how you get to present your offer. Before cold-calling, see if there are no common friends that can introduce you to that organization/person.

 

3. Get your numbers straight

If your event isn’t in its first edition you should be able to easily answer the popular questions about your attendees. Organizations willing to sponsor you are trying to get visible to certain categories of potential clients/stakeholders, so they will be interested to see some demographics. If you used the right access management tools (that track check-in, cashless payments, interactions etc.) for your previous events you will have all data stored and ready to be used; If this is the first edition you should present your (very realistic) expectations, and also be ready to uphold them with solid arguments. Will you provide brand recognition and/or leads?

 

4.There are more layers of involvement

And I’m not referring to your gold, platinum, and adamantium sponsorship packages (which, to be honest, are kind of out-of-date). I’m talking about how a company may look at you: as a one-time deal (sponsor) or a long-time partnership. And this is why it’s crucial to do your homework before you go out and meet the ones that hold the financial resources. If you approach a company that has the same values as your event there are greater chances to get yourself with a new longtime partner.
P.S. the layer of involvement may depend on the department that you approach; people from PR & Communication are interested in a sponsorship that brings quick results, the CSR department is interested in a partnership that can consolidate the company’s position as an important social player (a long-term goal).

 

5. It’s not all about you

Dale Carnegie once said (and I quote): “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”. When someone accepts to meet and discuss a sponsorship it means that they see potential in a future collaboration. Listen, see what motivates them and which are your common points of interest, and your chances of getting a new sponsor/partner will increase dramatically.

 

5bis. Listen. Listen. Listen

This part is connected with the one above but I kept them separated because I wanted to highlight something: it’s more than possible that your future-to-be sponsor/partner knows better than you which are the needs that can be filled with your help (but you must see how). This is why I think that your sponsorship standard packages are out of date and you should always be willing to listen to what your possible partners have to say; maybe you offer a 25.000 $ sponsorship package (that includes signage and media coverage) to someone willing to sponsor you with 50.000 $ if you implement their workshop into your event. Be open-minded, otherwise you will lose many great opportunities.

Funding is crucial and we all know that great partners are hard to find, so you should always show interest in your partner’s goals. After the whole thing is over meet with them and review the event: see if they have accomplished their goals, if there were any problems or new ideas. Your interest will show that you are willing to put in the work that’s necessary when building a long time relation.