Event organizers, recognize the value of a Twitter hashtag

I learned something very interesting this week.  From my unscientific sample of event organizers, there seems to be a lack of appreciation  — or perhaps the word I want is

Twitter

understanding — for the simple power of a Twitter hashtag (#).

Every month in 2012, I plan to write a post about notable events for content marketing.  I like to include recommendations for Twitter accounts to follow and hashtags to mention.

This week, I contacted the organizers of several events, some of which get national broadcast placements.  In speaking with the public relations staff in charge of these events, I had to explain to some of them what a hashtag was, so let’s just state really simply what it is and what it can do for an event.

A hashtag is a keyword term you put into a Tweet that you precede with “#.”  This action makes the term searchable.  It can help the term become promoted on Twitter.  People like to use hashtags when they attend events.  So, for example, people who are attending Social Media Week in DC, or talking about it now, are using the hashtag #SMWWDC.

Hashtags should be short, so they don’t take up too much valuable Tweet room, but easily recognized.  You can’t use spaces, and you can’t use any characters other than letters and numerals (so hyphens and underscores are out).  Hashtag creators use either use one word, multiple words strung together, or acronyms.

There’s a real art to coming up with a great hashtag.

So far, so good right?  They’re free to create, and the only thing you need to create one is a Twitter account.  You just have to remember, as a planning group, to append that hashtag to all your tweets before an event, so they get traction.

Social Media Week DC does that very well.  Another event organization hosting their own “week” event, not so much.  I contacted “Let’s- Just-Not-Name-Them-Publicly Week DC” to inquire about their official Twitter account and hashtag, because I couldn’t find it on their website or in search.  I wanted to promote the event in my blog.

The staffer informed me that there was a Twitter account, but it was primarily for the director’s use, that it wasn’t updated that frequently, and that they really didn’t want people to refer to it.  I mentioned to the staffer how people attending their events would most likely want to to tweet about them, and for that, a hashtag would be a great idea (in case they were thinking of creating one I could include in my article), but he told me they were not pursuing that.

I can’t tell you too much more without revealing them, but I can assure you, their audiences are on Twitter, and so is the media covering their events.  Most definitely.  And other, smaller cities who are doing this type of “week” event do have their social media accounts set up and are promoting them.  But not the organization in our Nation’s Capital.

So, you know it’s hard to purchase a decent print display ad for less than 3 grand.  Now I’m discovering there are event organizers who choose not to use virtually free promotions, and I’m really perplexed.  I can understand how some people don’t recognize the value of hashtags, yet.  But to dismiss Twitter completely for a high-profile event?  That, I find surprising.  And suffice to say, they didn’t make the cut for inclusion in my article.

To their credit, PR people from two other organizations recognized the value of a hashtag immediately after our discussion, promised me they would meet about it and decide on a term, and get right back to me.  Now, that’s responsiveness!  And I will promote them.

Creating a Twitter hashtag is a simple, quick and easy, no-brainer tactic that can drive potential followers to your Twitter account, and from there, to your website and event.

Hashtags are worthwhile learning about, and incorporating in your public relations and engagement plans.

If you need help with understanding and making the most of social media for your business, nonprofit organization, or association, please contact me (571) 269-7559.

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on February 2, 2012, in Twitter Tips and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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