Most of the conferences and networking events you’ll go to this year will have their own hashtag. The hashtag has become so ubiquitous that it has now become odd not to have one.
Hashtags help event attendees organize their online conversations – about panels, speakers, ideas and opinions – and stay connected virtually long after the event itself has run its course. If you’re planning your own event, it’s important to choose the right hashtag so that people actually use it – so here are four features that every effective event hashtag should have.
1. It’s unique
The purpose of a hashtag that’s associated with an event is to enable those at the event (and sometimes those who couldn’t make it in person) to connect to one another, share their thoughts and experiences, and continue to network after the event.
So if your hashtag is being used by another event or group, it muddies the conversation and makes it hard for your group to mingle on Twitter.
The best event hashtags are those that are unique to the event at hand. If, say, your event is a coffee appreciation event, you probably don’t want to choose a hashtag like #coffee or #ilovecoffee – by doing a quick search on Twitter you’ll see that these are very popular hashtags that are being used by hundreds of folks on Twitter already. Your coffee-loving event will be lost in the chatter.
To avoid rubbing up against a hashtag already in use, brainstorm three to five hashtags that you think you’d like to use, and plug them into Twitter’s search. At least one should be free (and if not, come up with a new list).
2. It’s memorable
If you’ve got signage at your event, your hashtag will probably be on it. And projected on the main screens. And printed on the agenda. Anywhere you can display your hashtag, you probably will.
So, since your attendees will be seeing your hashtag over and over and over, they’re going to remember it, right? Well, not necessarily. If your coffee-lover event in June of 2013 hashtag is #coevntjn13, people might have a tough time remembering it when it comes to actually writing a tweet. Was it #coeventjune13? #coffeeevntjn?
The best hashtags are the most memorable. They relate well to the event at hand (a coffee event should probably have the word “coffee” in it, for instance), and they stick in the brain either because they’re short and sweet, they make obvious sense, or they’re fun and cool.
3. It’s intelligible
Going back to our coffee event example, the original (and pretty bad) hashtag #coevntjn13 isn’t all that readable or easy to decipher. You can kind of suss out that it’s an event (the evnt part is hard to miss), but when is it hosted? June? January? And what is it actually about? Co…cola? Coladas? Cappuccinos?
A better hashtag would be easier to understand. #coffeeeventjune2013 works. It might be a little long, but at least anyone who sees it – whether they’re at the event or they just stumble across it while browsing Twitter – will understand what the hashtag is all about at first glance.
4. It’s short
Last but not least, you want your event hashtag to be short and sweet.
In the above example, #coffeeeventjune2013 might be too long. It’s 19 characters long. If someone wanted to share a link, let’s say, while using your hashtag, they’d only have about 100 characters to write their message. And if they want to leave room for a retweet, they’re down to just about 80 characters. For a little context, the previous sentence was 87 characters long.
The shorter the hashtag, the more room your attendees will have to share their thoughts. So instead of #coffeeeventjune2013, you might want to shorten it to just #coffeeevent – much shorter, and it has the added bonus of being useable after the month of the conference, in case you want to make it an annual event.
(Conference speaker image via Shutterstock)