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How to Choose a Hashtag for Your Event #WhatYouNeedToKnow

Unless your event is 100% private to the public, every event, both large and small, should have a unique event hashtag.

Not only does social media provide insight into what is being talked, or tweeted, about, but it gives its users access into a community within a global network, which is pretty powerful. When implemented properly and effectively, a hashtag can be a core part of your event’s social media strategy.

Creating a catchy hashtag for an event can be a daunting task. But with these tips, strategies, and ideas, you’ll be able to brainstorm some awesome event hashtags in no time!

6 Science-Backed Ways to Create Event Hashtags:

1. Use the power of suggestion to create event hashtags.

In Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal by the Association for Psychological Science, researchers Maryanne Garry and Robert Michael of Victoria University of Wellington, along with Irving Kirsch of Harvard Medical School and Plymouth University, write about the power of suggestion and its impact on human cognition and behavior.

The power of suggestion is a psychological phenomenon and method of motivating people to do something simply by deliberately suggesting they do it. Throughout the course of these studies, scientists found they were able to influence people in many ways, including how they performed in memory tasks and what brand name products they said they preferred. They were even able to influence how participants responded to medicines, supporting the well known idea of a placebo effect.

According to Garry, “We realized that the effects of suggestion are wider and often more surprising than many people might otherwise think.”  

What does this mean for you? You can easily create a highly effective event hashtag simply by using the power of suggestion. Through direct language, a hashtag can provide a powerful yet bite sized influence tool that is both easy to remember and exciting to share. Audi provides an excellent real world example of this with their wildly successful #WantAnR8 campaign.

When they released this hashtag in 2011, Audi broke the record for the most engagement with a single tweet of all time. And at Cannes Lions in 2012, the brand’s efforts were unofficially dubbed the Most Successful Campaign Ever by the social media giant. The successful hashtag campaign also won them:

  • Roughly 50,000 tweets using the hashtag in less than 24 hours.
  • A Twitter account growth of over 200% during the promotion.
  • And over 100,000 impressions since its initial release.

It’s worth noting that their hashtag was also tied to a much anticipated product release as well as a free giveaway. But by that point in time, plenty of brands had great products and contests that weren’t nearly as successful as this one. The tipping point for Audi was a campaign hashtag that harnessed the power of suggestion.

For your next big event, try creating a hashtag that deliberately motivates your audience to complete one or more of your event goals. Whether it’s buying more tickets or improving brand recognition, the power of suggestion makes it easy to come up with a highly effective event hashtag.

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2. Focus on personal relationships to pick the best event hashtag.

Emotional advertising earns 31% of sales conversions, which is nearly double the 16% that ads based on rational content bring in. More than any other sales metrics (including brand awareness and consumer satisfaction), the customer emotions are the best indicator for an individual’s projected profitability and brand loyalty. Which means that if you want to create a hashtag that powerfully motivates your audience to attend your event, you’ll have to focus on words or phrases that spark an emotional connection.  

Take one of Coca Cola’s most successful campaigns in recent memory, #ShareACoke. Acting as both a digital and in person marketing strategy, the brand encouraged customers to find a bottle with a friend’s name or a relationship title (friend, coworker, mother, etc.) and share it with them. Whether that was exchanging a bottle of soda in person or tagging them on social media, the ShareACoke campaign ultimately led to:

  • More than 500,000 appropriately hashtagged photos of Coke products shared across all social media channels.
  • Over 6 million users creating virtual coke bottles to share with friends and family.
  • An additional 25 million+ followers on the Coca Cola Facebook page.

By connecting the experience of using this hashtag with a personal relationship the consumer would like to show appreciation for, Coca Cola’s campaign quickly became one of their most successful marketing tactics in the brand’s entire history. By finding ways to directly connect with your customers (or help them connect with each other) on an emotional level, your event hashtag can inspire attendees to emotionally bond with and promote your brand, all at the same time.

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3. Use an event mascot for your event hashtag.

Did you know that mascots are more effective than celebrity endorsements? According to a recent study, brand mascots, on average, create a significantly higher percentage of buzz than famous spokespeople across all social media platforms. Here are some examples of their influence:

  • The Pillsbury Doughboy makes up 22.14% of the brand’s digital buzz.
  • The Aflac Duck increases all fan and marketer generated social media posts  by 11.4%.
  • And Flo from Progesseive creates a 6.85% increase in online engagement whenever her character is used.

Besides the occasional exception, celebrities, on average, only create 3.19% for the brands they endorse. Brand mascots have even been shown to increase social media shareability (with characters like the Charmin Bears and Tony the Tiger raking in a whopping 585% and 279% increase in Facebook post shares, respectively).

Your event mascot can be a real person on your marketing team or a made up brand rep like Gnome Karl, who became the beloved face of Germany’s annual horticulture show. As the event’s mascot, Karl’s appearance was adorable but modern (born from a 3D printer and painted a single, eye-catching color to stand out from his other lawn cousins).

The bright pink creation visually represented their event brand, which is a mix of German tradition (gnomes and folklore) and the new wave of the future (with features like 3D printing templates their audience could download and use at home to print their very own mascot friend).

For this digital campaign, photos of Gnome Karl were paired with the hashtag #bugazwerg. BUGA is the abbreviated name for the event and “zwerg” is German for dwarf. Combining these two elements into a single hashtag helped connect the event to its tiny new representative.

A little background: Because the event is run by the federal government, almost every German who has a vested interest in agriculture already knows about it. So the brand didn’t need to worry about event awareness. But they were concerned about cultivating a strong event image. Attaching a face to the name (and the hashtag) ultimately helped the BUGA event gain a significant increase in social media interactions.

As the BUGA Digital Marketing Expert, Tabea Salzer, notes: “The new campaign, focused on Karl, is more successful than the old hashtag campaign because it’s tied to something tangible. People like Karl. It’s a cute idea. It’s engaging as people can not just take pics with Karl but even 3D-print their own gnome. This motivates people to take part and post using the hashtag.”

No matter who you choose, just remember to make your decision based on your event goals. BUGA needed a way to get audiences interacting with the brand on and offline. They also wanted to refresh their brand image to include both domain authority and a sense of fun. Gnome Karl was all of those things.

The big takeaway here is that any event hashtag that includes a colorful character of some sort will both humanize your brand and make it easier for audiences to remember your event, so include one if it suits your event goals!

4. Create moments of disruption using your event hashtag.

True innovators know that shifting public perception of an event, a brand, or an entire holiday isn’t as impossible as it seems. Which is exactly what Chevrolet did this year with their #BestDayEver campaign. Not only did the hashtag help the brand generate some much needed positivity in the public eye, it also earned a spot as a Finalist in the Shorty Awards for Best Hashtag.

The #BestDayEver messaging was created to help promote their upcoming product launch event. Launched on April Fool’s Day, the campaign was meant to turn a day of pranks into a day of surprises, challenging traditional notions of the holiday and their very own brand. And it totally worked:

  • The campaign was polled at a 98% positive sentiment among consumers.
  • Their hashtag generated more than 1.5 billion social media impressions.
  • And 43% of #BestDayEver hashtag users included @Chevy, making it the most successful engagement rate for any social media campaign in US auto history.

There’s a lot to event marketers can learn from Chevy’s success. First, hashtags that create moments of disruption don’t have to be complicated. “Best Day Ever” is a hashtag people were already using on social media. And it’s an expression most English speakers frequently say to communicate joy and excitement in regards to a positive event.

Second, hashtags that create moments of disruption focus on taking a single public perception and turning it inside out. Most people cringe at the thought of April Fool’s Day, envisioning onions disguised as caramel apples or any other assortment of gross and/or embarrassing experiences.

By using the #BestDayEver campaign on this holiday, Chevy was able to turn a universally despised event into one of joy and wonder. Instead of pranks, Chevy made a real effort to promote nice surprises like puppy kissing booths and hilarious celebrity appearances. If you want to do the same with your disruptive hashtag, make sure you support your idea with real world actions. Then share it online along with your campaign tags!

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5. Start a movement with your event hashtag.

There are beliefs your brand has about your event that you’d like your audience to share as well. Hashtags that deliberately call out and promote these views could make a significant impact on sales and registrations. For example, Tommy’s Superfoods #ThinkVeggiesFirst set out to influence their audience to make healthier choices. As a result of this hashtag, the brand reached over one million people on social media and saw a 22% increase in their email newsletter sign ups in only 28 days.

And it makes sense why. Studies have proven that social media movements can have a large impact on how entire groups of people think and act. Examples include everything from Millennial political involvement (a group that historically had low voter participation has now become one of the only groups to increase in voter turnout in certain areas) to the famous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (which helped raise over $100 million in donations to the ALS Association).

In a nutshell, this basically means that a great message (meaning one which resonates with prospective audiences) can easily be drilled down into a memorable hashtag and used to promote shared values in a highly effective way via social media. And for fans of Tommy’s Superfoods, a health-conscious line of frozen groceries, any hashtag that promotes a holistic lifestyle is one they’ll happily help spread.

What values does your event brand share with your potential attendees? Use these concepts to create a hashtag that will make prospects proud to share their involvement. Connecting with your event over a shared passion will likely give attendees a more personal sense of involvement and increase your social media shares!

6. Build a community with your unique event hashtag.

Social media was created on the foundation of one fundamental human need: connection. Which is why creating a hashtag for your event with this idea in mind has the ability to find and make new fans of your brand. Airbnb provides an excellent example of what a community-focused branded hashtag can do for businesses thanks to their #OneLessStranger campaign.

The hospitality brand, known for helping individuals rent out private properties, already has a history of connecting both hosts and guests. Their blog is filled with heartwarming accounts of surprise reconnections, love at first sight, and unlikely friendships. So it makes sense why the brand would use their hashtag to further promote a sense of community.

Within 3 weeks of its launch, the #OneLessStranger campaign reached over 3 million people around the world. Site users were overjoyed to share their personal stories of connection. And if they didn’t have one to share, fans were just as happy to read about the experiences of others. Encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response, Airbnb turned this one hashtag campaign into its own website, with aggregated content from real people who used #OneLessStranger across a variety of social media platforms.

In fact, Airbnb reports that, “People have been spending on average of over 6 minutes and 3 seconds, well above industry averages, on the landing page, engaging with all of the user generated acts of #OneLessStranger.”

All live events bring people together. Which is why this strategy for creating an event hashtag works perfectly regardless of what industry you’re in. If your event helps people connect through networking mixers, meet and greets, or other group activities, make sure you capitalize on that by using an event hashtag that lets people know they’ll not just be attending an event; they’ll also be joining a community of like minded individuals they will (most likely) fall in love with.

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Event Hashtag Ideas to Keep in Mind

Event hashtags are sometimes more important than the actual name of the event. It’s what people will type and share when they want to spread the word about it to their network. And it will help aggregate a series of photos, videos, and reviews you can use for future event promotion.

Besides all of these naming tips, here are some things to keep in mind when crafting your event hashtag:

  • Always research hashtags before committing. You want your event to stand out from all the rest which is why you need to double check that yours is unique.
  • Make sure it’s appropriate. There are tons of hilarious examples of hashtags gone wrong (Pen Island to #penisland or #SusanAlbumParty devolving into #susanalbumparty). Also, double check to see if the words or phrases are associated with organizations who don’t represent your beliefs.
  • Keep it short and simple. Use abbreviations to make long names or locations shorter. And try to keep your hashtag to four words or less. Don’t use alternative spelling in any of the words, because when said aloud people won’t be able to find it.

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How to Encourage Use of your Event’s Hashtag

Think of event hashtags as another valuable tool in your branding toolbox when it comes to publicizing your event. Creating a hashtag that resonates with the name of the event or mission of the event creates a sturdier brand, because when it comes to branding, consistency is key. It validates the community behind the brand and leaves no doubt in your consumers’, donors’ and attendees’ minds that you are affiliated with the specific group or organization throwing the event. A unique, yet memorable hashtag can go a long way in effectively campaigning for any event.

In order to ensure that a hashtag gains the momentum it needs, promoting participation from both attendees and non-attendees can be done before, during, and even after the event. Make sure to make your hashtag visible not only across your website and other social channels but include it in any other digital assets surrounding your brand. It should go on digital invites, sponsors’ websites, decks, newsletters, press releases, the works. The more exposure you can get for your event in this way, the better!

During the event is another great opportunity to cement event hashtags whether it’s tagging event photos, having sponsors and speakers use it on their own platforms, or live-tweeting the event to keep non-attendees updated. Let your guests know you value their participation by having the hashtag present everywhere they look. Place placards around the cocktail tables, silent auction, and any other areas your guests are congregating.

Don’t forget to track your results!

Hashtags, when used properly, can boost awareness and engagement for your event in a unique and powerful way. At the heart of the hashtag is a way to identify groups of messages happening around a particular subject. Tweets with one to two hashtags receive two times more engagement than those without so using the appropriate hashtags can you get substantial mileage in your event marketing efforts.

Tracking your hashtag’s engagement is easy to do with free tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite. Both programs function like a command center for your Twitter account to track engagement against individual users, keywords, and more importantly, hashtags. Best of all, both tools are free. By honing in on the right event hashtag, you’ll have up to the minute updates on the conversations happening around your event.

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Interested in more event social media marketing tips? Check out these articles:

30 Social Media Tips to Drive Engagement