How Not to Fail at Choosing an Event Hashtag [Guest Post]

 
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I know you pour heart and soul into organising your event. But did you give your hashtag enough thought? Sometimes, the hashtag choice will be blatantly obvious. It may be as straightforward as using the event’s name. Other times, it will be harder to find a fitting hashtag, for example, because the title of your conference is too long for a hashtag or because your topic is very broad.

The hashtag you choose can make or break your event. It’s very easy to fail, that’s why I put together a list of bullet proof tips on how to choose an event hashtag and avoid making mistakes.


A few things you should watch out for when creating a hashtag

  • Choose something catchy that is easy to remember

  • Choose a hashtag that says something significant about your event

  • Choose a hashtag that’s easy to spell: you don’t want posts to get lost because of accidental misspellings

  • Avoid using convoluted acronyms

  • Keep it short and simple

  • Avoid umlaut or other special characters

  • Play around with capitalisation to make your hashtag more legible, e.g. #LoveIsLove instead of #loveislove

  • Make your hashtag unique: research if the hashtag you’re planning to use already exists and check for hashtags that might be too similar to yours

  • Pick a hashtag that can’t easily be misinterpreted: you don’t want to open the door for hashtag abuse or hijackings

  • Settle on one hashtag for your event instead of multiple ones, unless you’re letting people vote by hashtag or need multiple hashtags for functional reasons

A hashtag gone wrong

A prime example for an event hashtag gone wrong is British singer Susan Boyle’s album launch in 2012 for which her team had created the hashtag #susanalbumparty. The Britain’s Got Talent contestant was heavily ridiculed for the hashtag. It was easily misread as an invitation to a rather more R-rated party than intended.

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The fact that this happened in 2012 and is still remembered and used as a worst practice example shows just how massive that blunder was. #susanalbumparty is a mistake that could have easily been prevented by choosing a hashtag more carefully. 

So, how do you find a hashtag that’s unique, catchy and unambiguous?

The 4-Step Process of Creating a Hashtag for Your Event

Step 1: Think about the “why”

When trying to come up with the right hashtag for your event, just think about what you would like to achieve. You’ll probably want your attendees to engage and make your event more interactive and talked about. 

People will use your hashtag to share unique moments from your event in real-time. You can collect and display all that amazing content on a social media wall in real-time. 

A wisely chosen hashtag will make it easy for people to share their experience with the world and it will also make is super easy for you to collect valuable user-generated content that you can use to promote your next events.

You don’t want genuine content posted by your attendees to get mixed with irrelevant content just because you chose a too generic or misleading hashtag.

A Walls.io social wall displayed at the TEDxFreiburg event on the main stage.

A Walls.io social wall displayed at the TEDxFreiburg event on the main stage.

Step 2: Brainstorming

Gather a small group of people who know their way around social media. Ideally, this could be your team or department. If you work alone you can always pull in people from other departments or ask a partner or friends to help you out.

Introduce your event to your focus group and tell them what you are looking to achieve with it. Brainstorm hashtag ideas, select the best ones and research them. Google if someone is already using the hashtag you just “invented”. Check on social media if similar hashtags are circulating. Cross out the ones that aren’t unique.

Step 3: Make an Informed Decision

Have a good night’s sleep. No seriously, let the hashtag ideas that you’ve ended up with sit overnight and sleep on them. Only then make your choice.

If you have a hard time deciding on your own, you can always run your top contenders by someone you trust. Ideally, someone who wasn’t involved in the initial brainstorming session — you want fresh minds on this.

Is your hashtag clear and concise? Will fans of your brand immediately understand what it is about? Will newcomers to your brand get it? If it takes you longer than a few sentences to explain your hashtag and campaign to someone new, it’s probably still too convoluted.

Remember, using your hashtag should be easy as pie. People shouldn’t need a cheat sheet to contribute to your campaign.

Step 4: Fireproof Your Hashtag

Once you’ve chosen a hashtag you’re happy with, give it one last test run and approach that one person who will always see a double entendre if there is one. You know, that friend who always chuckles quietly in the background at seemingly innocuous remarks? The aunt with the inappropriate comments at the dinner table? Those are the people you need for this.

If you can get your hashtag past a “dirty mind” without eliciting giggling, you probably won’t have to worry about being the next #susanalbumparty.

Of course, if your “filth tester” ends up chuckling you’ll have to take a deep breath, figure out what the problem is and go back to the drawing board. Perhaps one of your other hashtag ideas from the brainstorming session will be a safer bet.

Conclusion

Simply weigh the risks before you start. Sit down and take some time to consider what could potentially happen so you’re prepared. If you think your hashtag would be too risky, then go back to the drawing board and modify until you feel it’s safe to run it.

These are all completely understandable fears. And they’re not irrational either. All of this can happen and has happened before. But the good news is that all of these mishaps are avoidable if you follow a few simple rules. By doing your research, planning your campaign properly and promoting the hell out of it, you will be on the best path to a successful hashtag campaign.

About the author

Daniela Turcanu - Senior Marketing Manager at Walls.io
Daniela is passionate about digital marketing, and all the techy, geeky stuff which goes with that. She loves to be part of a constantly evolving, exciting industry, and a great community of SEO, and digital marketing enthusiasts. She gets excited about creating content that is useful and figuring out what makes customers advocate for a brand.

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