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How to: Use an Event Hashtag Before, During and After an Event

Schmidt says

If used effectively, a hashtag can bring added excitement leading up to and during your event.

By now we should all be familiar with hashtags and how they can be either annoying or helpful depending on how they’re used. At their core, hashtags are meant to categorize online content, emphasize keywords or phrases and aid in connecting with others through common interests. Once exclusive to Twitter, hashtags are now widely used across most online social networks. When used sparingly and appropriately, hashtags can enhance communication. But when used out of context or without creative thought, they become distracting. Using hashtags in verbal communication can make you the butt of a joke. And nobody wants to be the butt of a joke.

One effective use of hashtags is for events. If you’ve attended a networking event or large conference in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed or even used an event-specific hashtag. When used at events, hashtags can be a great way for attendees to actively participate, allow for social networking and make it easy for people to find event highlights with just a quick Twitter search. Event hashtags can even allow for people to follow the event virtually if they’re unable to attend in person.

Unfortunately, many events do a poor job of execution when it comes to maximizing event hashtag usage. The list below should give you some good ideas to effectively promote the event hashtag in the days and months leading up to the event, increase hashtag usage during the event and in using the hashtag to recap the event.

When looking through this list, keep in mind that these are merely ways to get the most out of an event hashtag. Remember that the event hashtag also needs to be unique, short, descriptive and memorable. Check out this article in AdWeek for more on how to choose and effective hashtag.

Hashtag promotion leading up to event:

  • Include event hashtag on any main graphics produced for the event
  • Make sure to include the hashtag on all communications leading up to event
    • Save the date email/mailer
    • Newsletters
    • Registration email
    • Reminder emails
    • PDF flyer
    • Tweets leading up to and during event
  • Include on website(s)
    • Main event landing page
    • Registration page
    • Confirmation page/event ticket
    • Website homepage banner
    • News section
    • Blog post promoting event and what to expect
  • Include the hashtag on event printed materials
    • All signage (posters, large print banners or tabletop items)
    • Name tags and lanyards (also include company Twitter handle and attendee’s Twitter handle or leave space to fill in)
    • Table cards
    • Agenda print outs
    • Presentation decks
    • Event specific SWAG (lanyards, T-shirts, pens, note pads, etc.)
    • Place on food items (on coffee cups, printed on napkins, written on desserts, stickers on chip bags, etc.)

Encourage using the hashtag during event:

  • Have speakers mention the hashtag prior to their presentation or during their introduction by the emcee
  • Encourage audience participation by giving out prizes (signed book from one of the speakers, free registration to next year’s event, gift cards, etc.)
  • Project the branded hashtag at a main area where attendees will convene or just off stage from presenters
  • Have someone live-tweet the event from event Twitter handle
    • Monitor the hashtag and favorite/retweet the best ones
    • Have pre-planned tweets ready to go out during the event
    • Share photos/videos during the event
  • Project event hashtag conversation on a wall or monitor using a tool like HootSuite’s HootFeed (more services here)

Post-event hashtag use:

  • Thank attendees and everyone who participated
  • Share notes or speaker presentation decks
  • Post a recap video (embed on event page, post to YouTube, share on other sites)
  • Share photos from the event (make a Flickr slideshow)
  • Share a Storify event recap focusing on the best tweets and moments shared

Do you have ideas on how to get the most out of an event hashtag? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me: @eric_wheeler.

Schmidt gif via metro.co.uk.

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PR in Social Media: Owning up to Mistakes

Just like Homer Simpson, we all make mistakes sometimes.

Just like Homer Simpson, we all make mistakes sometimes.

In my last post, I talked bout the power of social media on a personal level as it relates to St. Cloud State University choosing to eliminate homecoming. I had a short anecdote I wanted to include, but omitted due to my goal of keeping posts at 500 words or less. The anecdote was about a typo I had on a Facebook post for KVSC on homecoming being eliminated at SCSU:

“Top story at kvsc.org today: St. Cloud State University to climate Homecoming.”

Not sure what “climate” homecoming is all about, but people started making fun of the typo almost as soon as it was posted. Although the headline was posted as KVSC, I was the one behind the typo (or auto correct more specifically). So once it was called to my attention, I had to make a choice: remove the original post (also removing user comments) or own up to my mistake with a personal remark.

Being a PR guy, I felt it was important to be transparent and admit the goof up. So I simply replied to the post (with my name and face next to the comment) and made a little joke out of it with a reference to damnyouautocorrect.com.

Many social media experts believe it is important to always put a face with a company status update. Personally, I feel it depends on the type of post. Posting an article that is “trending” on your site should not require a face behind the post. However, if there does happen to be a typo, whoever made the error should own up to the mistake.

Lastly, just as a reporter should never remove an article with a factual error, a company should never remove a post or tweet with a mistake. It is much more professional to admit fault. Plus, admitting your mistake can only create more impressions and build credibility as a reputable source of information.

Thankfully, this was merely a typo and not anything offensive. Some celebrities and journalists alike have made “jokes” on Facebook or Twitter that have turned out to be quite offensive and created backlash from their followers. Check this article out to learn of a larger-scale mistake and how Kim Wilson suggests handling a “Twitter Faux Pas.”

I should mention I had a mistake in my last post as well. When I omitted the part about my mistake, I left a sentence in that was completely out of context. It was up for a few hours before I noticed it. Can’t even remember what it was now. Did I just break my own rule of owning up to mistakes?


Tutorial: The Social Media Contest

How would you do a social media dance contest? I would use YouTube of course!

Feel free to consider this part three of my Twitter tutorial. In this entry however, I will walk you through the steps of a social media contest at KVSC 88.1FM where we incorporate both Facebook and Twitter. So far at KVSC, we have only done concert ticket giveaways as a social media contest. We are planning to do a costume contest during Trivia Weekend to coincide with the theme Superheroes of Trivia. That contest will be on Facebook only and participants will post photos of themselves in their superhero costume on our wall and winners will be chosen by number of likes and comments. That should be fun.

The process is really pretty simple and it gets even easier when you limit the contest to just Twitter (Mashable has a great “how to” on Twitter contests). First, decide what your marketing goals are–create brand awareness, find out more about your customers, increase engagement, etc. Once you decide why you are doing a social media contest, figure out how you want to achieve your goals. At KVSC, our main focus is to increase engagement with our listeners and hopefully drive traffic to our website and to increase overall listenership.

Second, you need a game plan. Now that you know your marketing goals, it’s time to lay down some rules. This is almost too simple for something such as a concert ticket giveaway. For Facebook, just state the rules in a status update. That’s basically it. Remember to tag appropriate pages (in this case KVSC and First Avenue) and provide any additional links. Here’s an example:

KVSC – 88.1FM is giving away ONE pass to ALL CONCERTS at First Avenue & 7th Street Entry for the remainder of 2010! Simply hit the “Like” button at the bottom of this message to win! For and additional entry, visit http://twitter.com/kvsc881fm and retweet the contest message. Visit http://www.kvsc.org/ for full details.

Then do the same on Twitter, only now, you are restricted to 140 characters or less. Also, you may want to add a unique hashtag to monitor and help in promoting some aspect of the contest (or your company, cause, etc). Remember to use @mentions where appropriate:

@kvsc881fm – giving away ONE 40th Anniv. Pass to ALL concerts @Firstavenue for ALL OF 2010! Retweet to win! http://kvsc.org/ #KVSC1st_ave

Be sure to have information on your website with full details and promote in anyway possible. For KVSC, we usually make an on-air push and promote in our monthly e-newsletter. Once you have made your posts and promoted the contest a little bit, sit back and watch. When the deadline comes, compile all the valid entries and draw a winner (or winners) from a hat. Notify the winners and do a simple follow-up to everyone else via another post, and you’re done!

The best thing about social media contests is it’s very easy to measure your success. For Facebook, look at the number of likes, comments and any increase in new people who like your page. For Twitter, count the number of retweets and any other interactions.


Twitter Tutorial: Using @Mentions

Anytime someone tells me they just set up a Twitter account, I get questions about what a hashtag is and how to use @mentions or even what a retweet is. Lets see if we can get some simple definitions out there and how to get the most out of Twitter. We’ll start with @mentions.

@mentions are a way of including another Twitter user in your tweet. They are used either to mention someone in a tweet or to reply to someone else’s tweet. To use an @mention, simply use the at symbol (@) in front of a username on twitter: @eric_wheeler. The under score sign (_) is the only special character allowed in a username, so it’s okay to add a period or other punctuation after an @mention without adding a space. Remember, social media is not an excuse for bad writing.

Since the main purpose here is to mention someone in a tweet (twitter status update), they can be used to create conversations with other Twitter users or to simply recognize someone. One good thing about @mentions is that it pretty much guarantees at least one person will view your tweet and possibly interact with you. Anytime I share a link and think of someone who might have the same interest, I include him/her in the post. This increases the likelihood that someone will retweet (a topic for later) and, thus, increase my total impressions. Increasing impressions will help you in gaining followers.

Now that you know how to use an @mention, get creative in recognizing people in your online community and remember to reply if someone mentions you in a Tweet. We’ll knock out #hashtags in the next post. Using Twitter is not that hard, trust me. If you don’t have a Twitter account or if you’re new to Twitter, the video below is for you:


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