Social media is one of the most powerful ways to leverage your event, not only for sales purposes but for creating buzz and for giving your event a personality all its own. It's also a really awesome way to let people know that you've hosted an event in the past (if you have), and let them see real, live testimonials (in the form of Instagram photos and Tweets) from other attendees.
However, creating a hashtag isn't just a fix-all solution that will lead to a sold-out event. It's simply a vehicle to help promote your event, to get other people talking about it, and to capture imagery of your event not only from you, but from other people.
Which is a lot of buzz words all rolled up into one sentence. So let me break it down:
Why use a hashtag
People want proof that your product is going to work for them, and if it's a beta launch or you've never done the event before, they at least want to know that there are other people out there in the world that are going to be a part of your "test event" right along with them.
Creating a hashtag and then doing your darndest to make a feed with some "behind the scenes sneak peeks" to populate that hashtag will easily give people an inside look at all the work you've been doing to prepare for this event and will break down those barriers of the unknown that so often limit attendees from signing up for an event.
How to pick a hashtag
The first step is to sign onto your social media platform of choice (mine is Instagram and I think Instagram works really well for events because they are inherently visual) and search a few hashtags that you're considering (go into the magnifying-glass-looking tab, then search under the "hashtag" tab at the top).
Ideally, you want a hashtag that isn't already being used for something else, so you can "own" the entire feed (#bossladybash had one photo, but I was okay with it). You also don't want something super long or hard to remember. If your event has a long title (like Lauren Caselli Events' Summer School) think about using the initials (#LCESS or #LCESummerSchool
If it's a recurring event, think about adding the year at the end of the hashtag to delineate different years OR if you want a robust feed that carries over from year to year, don't add the year at the end of the hashtag.
How to Promote the Hashtag
Once you've chosen a hashtag, one of my favorite ways to promote it is to send out a list of 4 - 5 prewritten tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram posts to people on your mailing list and also, list them on your website for people to share.
Once people sign up, send them an email (automated or individual) thanking them for attending the event, and give them a "challenge" to complete. Ask them to post a picture or tweet or Facebook why they're excited about the event, and ask them to use the hashtag.
Also, try to post once a day or every other day using the hashtag you've created, so that you can create a feed of posts. Posts don't have to directly be related to the event, but if you can tie some aspect of your day into your event to create buzz, you should.
At the event, be sure to have signage with the hashtag posted (two or three small signs or one big sign at registration should suffice), and tell all of your event staff to post using the hashtag and to also tell the attendees about the hashtag, so that everyone can follow along on your event's journey.
People get excited when they see other people's photos and tweets, and genuinely want to connect, ESPECIALLY at live events, so don't worry about seeming overly "salesy" or pushy when it comes to promoting the hashtag.
Your turn! How have you used a hashtag to promote an event? Have you ever used a hashtag at an event? Tell me if it made a positive impact on your event experience, and, if so, how it did that!