Originally published in PV Solar Report.
Part 1 – For Event Organizers
This two-part series explores best practices in hashtag marketing for event producers and in part two, for attending companies.
As a solar industry trade show and event organizer, your hashtag strategy can help drive awareness, increase attendance and bolster the marketing efforts of participating exhibitors and sponsors.
Hashtag marketing uses the hashtag symbol # to consolidate a “conversation” on Twitter and other social media sites. The use of hashtags to organize a tweet stream or conversation originated on Twitter, but is now applicable to most social media sites.
Research Your Hashtag!
As an event or show organizer, if you have not already established a “branded” hashtag now is the time.
Before implementing a new hashtag research it on all your key social media sites. This may sound like a “no brainer;” however all of us have seen hashtags refer to unintended conversations. Make sure the hashtag you want to use does not conflict with one already being utilized consistently.
Use the Hashtag Year Round!
Tweeps (Twitter users) from all across the globe gather for Solar Power International, as a major industry example.
Hashtag #SPIcon is used year round to congregate attendees into a “room” on Twitter. Keeping a hashtag vibrant for a major industry event throughout the year is important to keep the event top of mind.
Another advantage to tracking and participating in an event hashtag is the continuity of the conversation. Companies and individuals who correctly use #SPIcon, for example, can be found in the event thread no matter the time of year, and if they were attending or not.
Integrate Event Onsite and Online Audiences
Hashtags are magic glue to coalesce an event’s onsite attendees with a vastly larger potential online audience. Event organizers within the industry are doing more to ensure their events have an online feed for those not attending.
Here are some ideas to increase solar industry hashtag marketing results.
Ideas for Event Organizers
Your event hashtag ties event participants together, provides a promotional feed prior to your event, gives your sponsors an opportunity to use the hashtag to promote their participation and extends the reach of your event past the physical boundaries of those attending.
- Communicate the hashtag! Make sure you clearly and repeatedly communicate your hashtag before the event to encourage participation in the official hashtag. Communication can be done via email, event social media graphics and through blog and advance event content. Certainly advance event tweets and social media posts should carry the official hashtag.
- Graphics: Put the event hashtag on all your advance show graphics. This will help marketers, attendees and press follow updates in advance of the event, during and after it.
- Build in the hashtag to auto generated share posts from your website and event promotion pages. The hashtag is then correct each time, unless the posting party changes it.
- Use a contest to elicit support from participating sponsor and attendee company social media teams to support the hashtag feed.
- Sponsor support of the hashtag effort to ensure this integrated feed is featured.
- Communicate your hashtag to the media in advance. Be sure your important media outlets and reporters know in advance about your official event hashtag to encourage both their monitoring of the hashtag for announcements (good for your sponsors and news) and their use of the hashtag to promote their coverage of the event.
- Identify and monitor industry influencers who are avid Tweeters. Reach out to them in advance of your event to let them know about your official hashtag. Add them to your show Twitter list to readily track their communications and RT as appropriate.
- Use Twitter Boards. Dedicate resources to onsite Twitter boards to tie the on and off line audience together and create excitement. Make sure these are located in key, high traffic areas and multiple rooms.
- Do a hashtag driven recap. Capture all the videos, photos, best tweets with a recap of your event. With one link you can then communicate all the best moments others may have missed. This creates a legacy for your event upon which you can build.
Use Hashtags for Photo Sharing
The combination of hashtags and photos are a marketer’s dream. Today’s technologies and social media sites give us endless opportunities to combine the conversation garnering power of the hashtag with the worldwide phenomenon of smart phone photo generation.
Here are some ideas for leveraging hashtags and photos for marketing magic:
- Encourage photos sharing using your hashtag during an event. Photos could be images of panel presentation slides, booths, people in booths, celebrations, key individuals or celebrities.
- Expand the reach of your hashtagged photos using albums. Images tweeted or shared with your campaign hashtag along with the event tag can provide rich and compelling content.
- Create an event landing page with Storify, for example, to share the photos.
Use a Hashtag Contest with Low Entry Barriers
Photo contests are pretty common in the industry as a tool to garner consumer participation and are a great tool to develop installer community input. Be sure rules spell out the rights to use images on other social media platforms. Close the loop on these contests by knowing in advance how you are going to post photos in other ways including Facebook albums, website Storify pages, etc.
Event organizers make sure your event and its hashtag is listed in Part 2
Event organizers, send us your hashtag information for events into mid-2016. In part two we will provide a handy guide for solar industry marketers of event hashtags for upcoming industry shows.
Watch for the series bonus on using hashtags in design: How do I add three dimensions to my hashtags? Designing hashtags into marketing and collateral beyond twitter by Aimee Tuck.
About Glenna Wiseman
Glenna Wiseman is the founding principal of Identity3, delivering vibrant marketing to empower a sustainable world. She has been an executive marketing professional in the solar industry since 2007. Her expertise includes work with companies along the solar supply chain from manufacturers to installers, financing entities to solar O&M providers and across continents to international firms making a U.S. market entry. She has fueled growth in start-ups to divisions of Fortune 500 organizations. Glenna is a recognized speaker and author in the solar industry and was recently named one of the “100 people shaping #Cleantech on Twitter.” Contact: Gwiseman@Identity3.com Twitter: @GlennaWiseman
About Aimee Tuck
Aimee Tuck is the owner and Design Director of Corbae Creative. She started Corbae Creative in 2002 to provide creative graphic design solutions to sustainable and renewable businesses. Aimee Tuck has a diverse background in design and marketing communications which allows her to see the “big picture” when approaching a project. By applying a context to client needs and understanding the available options, she helps her clients find effective design solutions for marketing success. She has worked with multiple solar industry companies to help define and refine their print and web design, including Sensata Technolgies/Magnum Energy, Fronius USA, HelioPower, Xantrex Technology, and is listed as a designer of choice for advertisers looking for design assistance in Home Power and SolarPro magazines. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: AimeeMTuck