Conference Hashtags

Tweeting DIYA lot has changed in the social media world since October 2010 but most of the basics in Hashtaggery (how to create a hashtag for your event) have remained the same. Here’s an update:

1. Think: choose a hashtag that can easily correlate to your event

What type of abbreviations can you use? If there will be live-tweeting at your event, make sure you choose something that can be easily typed. Keep it short and sweet but not so short that it becomes confusing.

Should you use the year in it? I’ve seen a lot of hashtags that use “2010″ or just “10″ as a date. Twitter search history lasts only a few days so there’s no need to differentiate your annual events by adding the year to your hashtag. Remember that people will be live-tweeting and it takes an extra step to add numbers on a mobile device.

The thought process behind this hasn’t changed. Since my original post, I’ve upgraded to an Android phone (from a Blackberry) so typing numbers in a hashtag is more difficult now but my keyboard (Swiftkey) auto-suggests words and hashtags so leaving off numbers in a hashtag is not as crucial. Just keep in mind whether you want to use the hashtag year-round or only specifically for the conference.

2. Research: are your choices already being used?

There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing that people are already using your hashtag for a different meaning. A quick search on search.twitter.com will only provide recent results so searches on hashtags.orgWhat the Hashtag and Twubs are also necessary. Yes, it’s a lot of searching but you must confirm that your hashtag is unique.

The “What the Hashtag” site no longer exists. Well, it changed into What the Trend but it doesn’t offer the same capabilities.

Since twitter’s search history is so short (approx 5 days), it’s best to run multiple searches over a period of several weeks. Yes, plan that far in advance of the conference. If not, someone else may be using your hashtag for something unrelated. You know the saying: measure twice, cut once. That applies here. Research, research, research, select.

3. Register: save it

Once you’ve decided on a hashtag and researched to make sure it’s not already being used, it’s time to register it. This will not only place ownership on the hashtag but some registries can save hashtag usage far beyond what is capable in twitter’s search. Two of my favorite sites for this are What the Hashtag and Twubs.

What the Hashtag is an excellent resource for creating hashtag transcripts. This is what we use for #tourismchat transcripts. Select a date or date range to get a transcript with a customized URL, which you can link to for specific dates of usage. The hashtag’s page gives you basic stats for the past 7 days and can even be customized with a description, related hashtags and links.

Twubs can also be customized with details about the event, custom icon and background image. You can even tweet from this page (connect it to your twitter account) and it will add the hashtag to your tweets. What I love about this site is that it collects images and videos tagged with your hashtag. It’s a one-stop-shop for all things related to your hashtag.

As mentioned above, What the Hashtag no longer exists. It’s best to use your hashtag sporadically so that others won’t think it’s available for a different event when they’re in the searching stage.

4. Promote: get the word out

There’s nothing quite as sad as creating a fabulous hashtag and then wondering why people aren’t using it. When using the hashtag for an event, make sure you include the hashtag on all of your registration material, printed and online. Don’t only state what the hashtag is but also educate attendees on how to follow the hashtag and maybe even how to use twitter. If you have a main twitter account that will be tweeting about the event, include the hashtag in your twitter bio.

Promote! Promote! Promote! Print the hashtag on ALL of your conference material. Put the hashtag in ALL of your social media bios. Make sure attendees, exhibitors and sponsors are aware of it.

If you have room, explain what a hashtag is and link to a search of your hashtag. Just don’t set yourself up for failure. Make sure you’re actively using the hashtag before sending an eblast with the search stream. There’s nothing more embarrassing than to tell people to use the hashtag and then send them to an empty twitter page of search results.

5. Follow: watch what people are saying

Set up a column in TweetDeck or HootSuite or save a search on twitter.com for your hashtag. It’s important to watch it and respond to people when they use it, especially if they’re asking questions.

It’s now more important than ever to engage and interact with your conference attendees, exhibitors and sponsors.

6. Use: show by example

Now that you’ve created your hashtag and are starting to promote it, make sure you use it before the event so there will be tweets when people look it up. During your event, include the hashtag on all event-related tweets. If you’re tweeting from a laptop rather than a mobile device, consider using a TweetChat room or the Twubs site. A TweetChat room will display only tweets that use the specific hashtag. It updates automatically and allows you to tweet right from the site, including the hashtag at the end of every tweet you send.

Both of these sites, as well as TweetDeck and HootSuite, work wonderfully.

7. Display: let everyone see it

At your event, consider displaying your hashtag on a screen so that all can view the related tweets. Twitterfall is an excellent and well-known site for this and offers many options including speed, showing retweets, geolocation and exclusions.

Twitterfall is still my favorite site for displaying hashtag streams on monitors.

And one important addition…

8. Save: archive your transcripts

Use tweetdoc to create archives of your hashtag transcript. It creates a PDF and is what I now use for #tourismchat transcripts. There are a few issues to watch for though:

  • Save a new copy of your transcript every few days. This might not be needed weeks before your conference but twitter’s search history only lasts approx 5 days so you can’t retrieve a tweetdoc transcript beyond that time frame.
  • There is a 500 tweet limit per transcript and you can only query by day, not hour. If your hashtag is incredibly popular, save multiple versions of the transcript throughout each day.

There are other options for measuring hashtag reach and archiving transcripts but tweetdoc is free and is my preferred choice.

What are your tips for conference hashtags?

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: How to work a conference on Twitter by using hashtags | DKDNewMedia

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