OMG hashtags IRL - Part 1
Why do we blog this? There is a direct correlation between event awareness and ticket sales. We know you are making every effort to wrangle the direct channels that you have control of, but there is a vast resource that may be going underutilized - hashtags. Hashtags exist outside the constraints of any one given social media platform and function as a way for your ticket buyers to raise awareness of your event through the shared experience.
The Internet is leaking
Lately, it seems like an hour does not pass without seeing a well worded, unique hashtag on some product packaging, the TV screen, a store window or billboard. There's even a hashtag shaped skyscraper being built. Sure hashtags have been a great way to participate in the digital world, but this is IRL. For those new to hashtags and their use, a quick summary:
In the digital language of emoticons and LOL acronyms, hashtags are now solidly embedded as a cultural shorthand—something akin to quotes around a topic or idea. Created by Chris Messina in 2007, the hashtag has moved from an insider’s tool on Twitter, to common parlance both online and off. From CNN to American Idol, it seems everything has a hashtag.
Some recent examples of hashtags IRL include...
During the 2011 Major League Baseball playoffs, every center field fence of every game had a 100 foot wide hashtag painted on it.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs football team painted a 200 foot wide hashtag in both end zones of their stadium. Now fans can share their experience using the "#HAILSTATE" hashtag during games.
Virgin America airlines flight from San Francisco to San Jose is nicknamed "the nerd bird" because so many tech industry professionals fly on it. Those tech professionals would update their status simply tweeting "I'm on the #nerdbird!" and everyone knew what they were doing and where they were going/had been. The nose of the plane now has a "#nerdbird" hashtag painted on it.
The Farmer's Insurance Group is making its first foray into using hashtags with their sponsorship of NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne. This is the first time a hashtag ( #FARMERS5 ) has ever appeared on one of NASCAR's race cars.
At the season premiere party for the hit TV show 'The Hills', attendees were politely reminded "If you are tweeting, please use #TheHills" as seen in the image below.
The polite reminder from the MTV network producers to their guests is the best example of how and why you should formulate a unique hashtag for your venue/event.
In what may be the largest event hashtag awareness campaign ever, the Nets basketball team has launched their "#HelloBrooklyn" hashtag as the leading method for fans ( and ticket buyers! ) to know that the team is moving to Brooklyn New York next year. The Atlantic Yard blog has been keeping a close eye on the event:
#HelloBrooklyn - Get used to new Nets tag line and promotional phrase. After all the hype in the last few days regarding the Nets' last home game in New Jersey the Nets moved directly into Brooklyn mode. The Nets/Barclays CEO Brett Yormark and others began tweeting with the #HelloBrooklyn hashtag.
Moving a sports franchise from one city to another is not a trivial task and is often met with resistance from die hard fans. The savvy owners of the Nets ( which include rapper Jay-Z ) fully appreciate the potential for negative backlash. By participating in the experience, using the #HelloBrooklyn hashtag, the naysayers can see that the overwhelming sentiment is positive, lessening the need for expensive PR campaigns to counter whatever backlash occurs.
The #HelloBrooklyn hashtag has raised event awareness and the direct correlation to ticket sales is self-evident.
Try creating a Hashtag yourself
When considering a hashtag for your venue or event, be sure to make it unique. Ambiguous words like "concert" or "ticket" do not make for good hashtags. Words that reflect the nature of the experience are best, especially when combined with your venue/events established name.
If your venue's name is "Monsoon Saloon", use that entire string combined together without spaces to avoid being lost in the discussion of some terrible natural disaster. "#MonsoonSaloon" is fairly unique and when people are there they can utilize such a unique combination of words as they share their experience.
If your event is named "The 15th Annual BBQ and Horseshoe Throwing Championships of Greater Springdale County" that is, obviously unique, but far too lengthy to make use of as a proper hashtag. You could either truncate it to the keywords (#SpringdaleBBQ) or use the first letter of the keywords to form an acronym (#BBQHTC). There are no strict rules to formulating your hashtag, only that it be unique.
Once you’ve formulated something truly unique, it is simply a matter of making the polite request to event attendees to use your hashtag as they share their experience, like the aforementioned ‘The Hills’ party example.
In part 2 of 'OMG hashtags IRL' we'll be taking a pragmatic approach to the how, when and why unique hashtags raise event awareness.
Not sure how to truncate your events name down to a proper hashtag length? Our offer to help you formulate a unique hashtag for your venue or event remains open. Contact us, ask us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+, or let us know in the comments below!