If your business regularly uses events such as workshops or public speaking engagements, whether for promotional purposes, or actual revenue generation, then you’ll know how difficult it can be to generate a buzz around your event. But without genuine excitement in your target audience, how can you be sure that enough people will attend to make your event worthwhile?
The good news is that social media offers new avenues for engaging with your potential audience. For rapid-fire engagement with today’s time-poor consumers, nothing beats Twitter. But updates on Twitter are limited to a maximum of 140 characters, meaning your message could flash past in an instant. And how can you track whether people are talking about your event, and make it easy for them to join in the conversation?
Enter the hashtag. This is a single word or phrase, that starts with the hash or pound sign, like this: #myhashtag. Simply by including this hashtag in a tweet, the tweeter can make sure that the tweet forms part of the conversation around the hashtag. This conversation can be found by searching for the hashtag, or in most Twitter clients, including the Twitter webpage, just by clicking on the hashtag itself.
To set up a hashtag that people can use to talk about your event, pick a short word or phrase that describes it. The hashtag needs to be short, so that it’s easy to type, and doesn’t use up too many of the 140 allowed characters. Check that the hashtag is not already in use by searching for it on a search engine. If you want to use a phrase as opposed to a word, leave out the spaces between the words, and make sure the phrase still makes sense without spaces: sometimes taking out the spaces can lead to a quite different meaning!
Let people know about your hashtag by including it in every tweet that you make about the event. Begin this process with some event teasers a week or two before the actual event. You can also encourage people to use the hashtag by referring to it in other media, such as web pages, email communications, and even print ads and flyers. Although experienced Twitter users will recognise a hashtag right away, including brief explanations or instructions may be appropriate.
And once your event is underway, you can use the hashtag in audience participation via Twitter, which will make it easy for you to track and collate audience responses and feedback. Or you can be extra clever and make a list of triggers or hot topics from your content, and cut/paste them into your Twitter, Facebook or Google+ feeds at the appropriate time… or arrange for someone, somewhere to do this for you. It’s usually easy to add a time stamp to the items on the list so someone back in the office can perform this.
Finally, when your event has concluded, don’t forget to tweet your thanks to all the attendees, using your hashtag, to build interest in your next event.