Three tips for using hashtags during an event
We know what it’s like. You’re at an event, you’re busy with conversation and looking to catch up and grow your network – but what attention are you giving to your digital network?
How do you network online at an event and join the digital conversation?
I’m going to unpick how to use hashtags (those words and phrases prefixed by a #) to break into the digital conversation likely taking part at any event. It’s already happening with or without you but you can find that being a part of what’s transpiring will advance your real-world networking as well as pushing your influence online.
The advantage of hashtags in Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn is that they act as mini hyperlinks for content. By using an event hashtag in your social posts, you are more easily found by anyone searching that term and your content will be collated in the event thread.
So how do you engage at an event using hashtags? Here are the crucial steps:
1. Find the official hashtag
It’s now more common than not to have an official hashtag included in the event information, possibly on a flyer or invitation or somewhere obvious, like the table menu. If this is not the case, there’s a good chance the hashtag has been developed naturally by the attendees of the event who are looking to engage with the event community.
The formula is fairly simple; it’s often the initials of the event name, event name or a mixture of event name + the year/location (#DiggersnDealers or #WomenInGold18, for example). Your first port of call is the event host’s social media account to check and in most cases, what they use is what you should be using too.
2 Use the hashtag in your content
Once you’ve established what hashtags people are using and following for the event you should work to share content that is interesting and event specific. In doing so you should include the #hashtag you identified as well as any other relevant hashtag you know has an interested audience. Here’s a tip, though: do not use this as a ploy to tap into an audience and market to them.
The best results come by
- being real
- being valuable
- being timely
Incorporating the three golden rules above into the content that you are contributing will make the community more likely to engage and lead to a real digital conversation as well as an opportunity to grow your digital presence.
What might this look like? Start with some imagery, perhaps, that can show you and others what is going on at the event. Look for material in your posts that is interesting enough (or flattering enough) to be shared and promoted by others at the event. If you are looking to join a conversation or start one, be clear: welcome people to your expo stand, let them know if you are about to speak in the next ten minutes or encourage people to come find you and your team in the room to expand on the conversations taking place on the main stage.
3 Follow the hashtag thread
If you throw content into the “pit” of social media and just leave it there, you will achieve limited results.
For the best engagement, avoid hit and run social content and stick around for some back-and-forth. The way to do this is to monitor and read what others are saying in the event hashtag thread, and to respond where you can add value. If a speaker posts before hopping up to present, engage with what they say on stage, capture a few quotes or share some questions. Just like you, other networkers may be posting and waiting for someone to respond; they will appreciate you getting engaged.
By watching the thread and the turn of conversation, you will stay relevant in what you post but it will present you with opportunities to engage, make a connection and build your own digital presence off the back of other people’s content.
By identifying the right hashtags, using them in a real, valuable and timely manner and contributing back to the overall conversation thread, you’re setting yourself up for hashtag success.