Why hashtags are the cornerstone of digital event communication

Author: Christina Quast

Successful events need social media and a hashtag is a crucial element for digital event communication to succeed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Hashtags, which were invented on Twitter in 2007, work on almost all social media platforms. These buzzwords, coupled with the hash character #, cluster all the communication about one topic or event for the benefit of organisers and audiences alike.

For digital event communication, hashtags are as important as date and venue for an event: As soon as you know time and place, you should also decide on a hashtag and from then on always use it in the context of your event, not only on social media but also in emails, on your website as well as offline on print invitations, the programme and at the event venue. Your audience, speakers and other stakeholders then know which hashtag to use in order to take part in the digital communication related to your event.

How to hashtag

Organisers should make sure that their hashtags are unique and easy to remember which means testing in social networks beforehand to rule out that your keyword is already in use in another context or country. To make a hashtag memorable, use an abbreviated title of your event and ideally don't add more than the year, i.e. imex17 and #BOE17 for the meetings and events exhibitions IMEX and Best of Events. Using the current year, makes it easy to re-use an established hashtag while still distinguishing between individual events, e.g., when working with a social wall.

Reach a bigger audience with events

If hashtags are used consistently, the target group can find all relevant information and follow the digital event communication, even when not attending the event itself, for example, for time reasons or in case the event was fully booked. Twitter and soon also Instagram provide the option to follow a hashtag and not just a profile. This is a great chance for organisers to reach a wider audience with their events and extend their reach through social media. If a lot of visitors use an event hashtag, it might well end up trending on social networks, resulting in even more people noticing the event. The content that is automatically created through events on social media can also attract new followers for your social media profiles.

Christina Quast
Christina Quast

Christina Quast has a degree in Journalism Studies and has specialized in social media for events. She is a professional in digital live communication at events of the media, culture and event industry. In addition, she blogs about digital tools and topics and also gives workshops throughout Germany, such as at IMEX in Frankfurt / Main.

During events, organisers can set up social walls, displaying live all contributions featuring the event hashtag that are posted on social media and enabling the entire audience to follow the digital event communication. Organisers need to make sure that social walls provide moderating functions in case posts appear that abuse the hashtag because as soon as an event hashtag becomes a trending topic, it is also very likely to be exploited by spammers.

Improved monitoring and analysing

Using different online tools, hashtags help organisers to better monitor and analyse (and thus improve) their digital event communication on social media. Monitoring, i.e., actively searching for social media posts containing your event hashtag, helps find out what your audience says on social media about your event. Organisers can then also react to contributions even if those don't tag their social media profiles and thereby signal that these posts are being read and answered. This, in turn, promotes a positive image and can prevent a "shitstorm" because your audience notices that it is also involved in the event on social media. Monitoring also enables you to find content related to your event that your audience posts in social networks for the purposes of sharing or integrating it in an online documentation, e.g., a live blog.