By Alon Alroy

Are you planning a small business event and want to promote it on social media? A unique, dedicated event hashtag can make all the difference, especially now that hashtag conversations can include Facebook.  An effective hashtag can remove the noise from social networks and hone in on conversation that matters.

Make sure your hashtag is:

  • Relevant. The hashtag should be related to your event and be easy to remember as well as spell.
  • Unique. It’s important to pick a hashtag that’s not currently being used or can have many different audiences.  Choosing the hashtag #tech for a conference called Tech Startup Conference 2013 can (and will) result in 20+ irrelevant tweets per minute.  Instead, using a hashtag such as #TSC13 will allow the event tweet stream to be highly targeted with a very low possibility of getting off-topic tweets or users.
  • Short and sweet. Concise hashtags are not only easier to remember, but also give event attendees more character space when sharing on Twitter (though there’s no limit on Facebook).  If your event has a longer name like “Social Media Marketing World 2013”, turn it into #SMMW13.
  • Well thought out. Not every event name or topic will sound good as a hashtag (case in point: the Susan Boyle album party- #susanalbumparty). It’s also a good practice to make sure that the hashtag doesn’t coincidentally form a word in another language, which could result in two very different streams colliding.

Now that you have your hashtag, make sure people use it!

  • Promote away.  Your hashtag won’t mean anything if nobody uses it!  Promote the hashtag by having it everywhere–your event website, marketing materials, advertisements, dedicated emails, the event’s mobile app, social networks, newsletters and every other channel used to reach attendees.
  • Listen.  The hashtag will be a way not only to get attendees to engage with the event, but also to get attendees to engage with each other. You’ll be able to track the conversations and not only get good feedback, but possibly even address some of the top topics and issues discussed online in the conference or event’s content itself.
  • Get creative.  Hashtags are still a new tool, so don’t be afraid to experiment! You can offer discounts, create contests, or broadcast curated streams.

Alon Alroy is founder of Bizzabo, the leading event app that integrates social media to build highly-interactive event communities, provides live scheduling information, and facilitate one-on-one connections between the thousands of attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, and media. Follow Bizzabo on Twitter @bizzabo.