How to generate leads, boost engagement and amplify your brand at events with a hashtag
Any person or organisation that wants to truly distinguish themselves at an event should learn how to leverage the power of using hashtags.
Most business events now use an event branded hashtag, for example #IMEX17 for IMEX in Frankfurt 2017, which creates a short-term virtual community around the event and leads to marketing ‘gold’ - a targeted audience who share relevant content online. While the quality and quantity of content shared through the event hashtag will vary from event to event, it’s good to keep in mind that this content confers many other benefits. It can be used for future market research, audience engagement and, of course, articles or opinion pieces.
While hashtags are popular across many social media platforms Twitter and Instagram are where hashtags really shine. The main reason for this is that both are public and open to everyone by default including those who aren’t directly associated with you or the event. That means when Tweets or Instagram posts are popular they provide a great opportunity to engage with new prospects and influencers on a global scale.
Here are 5 easy steps to gaining the most traction from an event hashtag.
1. Identify your audiences
In advance of the event identify three distinct audiences:
- Prospects: organisations or individuals who are attending the event
- Remote prospects: people who are interested but who can’t attend the event
- Influencers: those who can help you to reach even more prospects through the power of their individual networks
Make sure you research everyone’s social media handles prior to the event and if necessary have a cheat sheet with this information on-hand for easy access. Make sure you ‘follow’ speakers, bloggers and other influencers attending the event. Engage with them once the event is live by sharing their content (on Twitter) and, where possible, bridge the online to offline gap by arranging to meet in person.
Bonus tip: Engage prospects who can’t attend by sharing some of your best content. In this way, you’re effectively providing people with an adapted virtual event experience.
2. Share visual content
A picture is worth a thousand words, especially online. According to Twitter, visual content yields 35% more engagement than text-only tweets. Visuals, including videos, are an excellent way to stand out. A few high-quality pictures can generate interest and help to grow your business. In many ways, selfies and photo opportunities are almost becoming the ‘new’ business cards.
Bonus tip: Tag other attendees in pictures or videos with their handle. They’ll appreciate this and you’ll create a lasting connection between you and other attendees
3. Share statistics and data
Speakers often share valuable statistics and data. Sharing the quantifiable metrics of any presentation is an extremely valuable way to lend credibility to your brand.
Bonus tip: Statistics and data, especially when they are visually interpreted as infographics or similar, can be shared time and time again to great effect.
4. Live blog
This may be the hardest task at any event, however it may also offer the best results.
Live blogging can simply be live tweeting from education sessions. It’s a simple way to share valuable content which is likely to interest your prospects, especially those who are remote. Sharing quotes and links to presentations also builds a relationship with speakers. Remember to mention them via their handles along with the event hashtag and their full name.
Bonus tip: To maximize the potential of live blogging beyond live tweeting, prepare by creating blog templates in advance. During sessions simply add the quotes or photos from the session to the templates and you’re ready to publish. If you can’t publish live, then share afterwards and ideally within an hour to get the most traction.
5. Rework the content
Having mastered social media (especially the hashtag) you should have amassed an impressive collection of content. This can be repurposed and revamped in multiple ways to create a recap of the event. Combine videos, slide decks, articles and embedded tweets from key audiences to really shine after the event.
Bonus tip: Your recap post should be published soon after the event. The title of the recap post should include the hashtag as a way to boost search potential for anyone looking for information about your event.
Social media and event hashtags can serve as excellent opportunities for businesses to truly outperform their competition. Success on social media at an event requires organization, strategy and focus. If you can pull it off, it’s enormously rewarding, and you’ll learn a great deal about your audiences along the way.
Mordecai Holtz is an avid blogger and an active contributor to the digital marketing space. Mordecai serves as the first international board member of the National Institute of Social Media and is a mentor to the Siftech Accelerator, Jerusalem’s first startup accelerator. Mordecai is delivering several education sessions at IMEX 2017:
Anat Landa is manager of the Jerusalem Conventions and Visitors Bureau (JCVB), which is a one-stop-shop offering logistical support and financial incentives to event organizers and initiators. Meet Anat at IMEX 2017 on the Israel stand (no. D245).