Before we dive into how to use the Twitter hashtag for conferences, let’s look at what a hashtag is for Twitter users.
According to Twitter, a hashtag is:
Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.
Over the years, people have gotten very creative in how hashtags are used. Here are a few examples of how you might use them today.
1. By adding a “#” symbol before trending keywords, names, or topics your tweet will be categorized and more easily searchable by other Twitter users who are interested in that same topic.
2. Clicking on a hashtag word within a posted tweet, or searching a word with a #hashtag symbol before it will show you other tweets in that same category.
3. Hashtag words that become very popular may become what is known as “Trending Topics”.
4. Many associations or companies use a #hashtag as a way to communicate with their members and clients on Twitter.
5. People of similar occupations (Such as #eventprofs for Event Planners and #expochat for Exposition Managers) use hashtags to host live TweetChats on certain days each week. (Use http://TweetChat.com to participate in live chats.)
6. Events use hashtags to broadcast their event, listen to what people are saying about their event, engage people with their event, and give your attendees a place to talk and connect.
If you want to know more about hashtags on Twitter, check out last week’s post on why you need hashtags for your event.
Now for the good stuff. How do you use a #hashtag for your conference?
1. Choosing a hashtag for your event: The best advice is to keep your event hashtag short and simple. Something easy for attendees to remember like #a2zinc. But before you choose a hashtag, it is important to verify that nobody else is using it. A couple ways to do this is to do a search on Twitter using the hashtag you would like to use to see if you get any results. Another way is to visit http://twubs.com and http://whatthehashtag.com to see if anyone else has registered your desired hashtag. Once you choose one, be sure to register it at both of these websites and start using it so others can see it is active. You might also want to follow @hashtags and @tophashtags on Twitter, then send them a tweet with your hashtag and a brief description.
2. Separating sessions using a hashtag: What if you could separate your event tweets by session or speaker? Well, you can. Just ask your speakers to promote their own personal hashtags in their session. (#event-speaker) Keep them short by using the first three letters of the speakers last name and you are set.
Example: If your event hashtag is #a2zinc
…then a Session would be #a2zinc-smi if using last name of speaker named Mike Smith.
This way, the event manager or speaker can read and respond to what people were saying about a specific session or even track a session specific topic or conversation.
To test this, go to Twitter and SEARCH for the tags below and see what the results look like. I posted samples. But be aware that my samples will expire in a few days and you should post a few of your own posts using your own event hashtags to test it yourself.
#a2zinc-smi = Follow all Tweets from Session #smi all days
#a2zinc = You will see tweets from all sessions and all other tweets from entire event
IMPORTANT: Be sure to separate your criteria with a dash ( – ) or the search will not work.
3. Can this be done with exhibitors? Sure. And encourage your exhibitors to tweet using their own personal booth hashtags as the event draws closer. Invite exhibitors to run their own contests using their hashtags. #event-boothnumber (Example: #a2zinc-1999)
To test this, go to Twitter and SEARCH now for the tags below. I posted samples. But be aware that my samples will expire in a few days and you should post a few of your own posts using your own event hashtags to test it yourself.
#a2zinc-1999 = Follow all tweets to or from booth #1999
#a2zinc = You will see tweets from all exhibitors, sessions, and all other tweets from entire event
4. Promoting your hashtags: To work with variable hashtag extensions successfully, takes some very careful planning. Here are a few suggested ideas that will help you get the message out correctly.
- Send speakers an email with the #event-speaker hashtag for them to promote an use in their sessions.
- Encourage them to begin tweeting it and sharing it with their followers.
- Give them a link where they can post a twitter feed of their hashtag on their own websites.
- Promote their hashtag on signs outside the door of each session, in printed material, and on your mobile app.
- Ask each speaker to display their hashtag on their first slide, and make an announcement before the session begins.
- As for exhibitors, ask them to wear buttons, post signs, or run contests using their #event-boothnumber hashtag.
5. Post a hashtag Twitter stream on your website & mobile app: If you are not already doing this, set up a social media page on your website and mobile app that displays your event hashtag feed, and also gives instructions to show your attendees how to tweet about sessions or exhibitors.
Also read: Event hashtags and why you need them
What creative ways have you used hashtags at your event?