Friday, I attended the Maryland SBA Small Business Awards ceremony in Baltimore, MD. I listened to inspiring stories about small business owners that had preserved through tough times to create successful businesses.
A new twist at the ceremony this year was the Social Media moment, where attendees were invited to Tweet posts using the hashtag of the event (#mdsbw13). This way they could share their experiences with friends that were not attending the event and connect with other attendees.
Using hashtags for event marketing has become extremely popular with in person and online events. Hashtags give event planners an opportunity to promote the event before, during, and after using social media.
So as a small business owner, what are some ways you can implement social media into your event planning to increase your reach and marketing? First of all, create a hashtag before you start advertising your event. Put the hashtag in all your online and offline marketing.
Then you’ll need to set up a way to monitor the posts that use your hashtag. I recommend using HootSuite and setting up a separate stream with a mention of the hashtag. Then every post using that hashtag is shown in your custom stream on your smart phone app or on your computer. For more ideas, check out this blog article on 7 Tools to Present a Twitter Stream at Your Event.
During the event, you’ll want to post updates about what is going on, who is attending, speakers, topics of conversation, etc. Monitor your hashtag throughout the event, so you can respond to and share incoming posts. Look for people at the event who are posting. This gives you an opportunity for face-to-face networking.
After the event, you’ll want to continue to monitor the hashtag. Post followup comments, reviews of the event, speaker notes or slideshares of their presentations, links to relevant articles, etc. Ask people what they thought of the event. This gives you ideas for improvement and also testimonials that you can use to advertise your next event.
In part two of my event marketing series, I’ll cover how to plan the perfect event with easy to use tools for small business.
What’s been your experience with events and hashtags? Let us know what you think.