OMG hashtags IRL – Part 2

OMG hashtags IRL - Part 2

Hashtag Symbol with Hands

In our earlier post we showed you examples of hashtags in real life. Now in part 2, we go more in-depth with a "how-to", "when-to" and, most importantly of all, why unique hashtags raise event awareness.

Why do we blog this? Our experience shows that there is a direct correlation between event awareness and ticket sales. The success of your venue/event is paramount to us and we take pride in bringing new tools to your attention. By formulating your own unique hashtag and then politely suggesting your ticket buyers share their experience using it, awareness of your venue/event increases.

As an example of how to formulate hashtags, we'll spotlight: Oli's Trolley Tours in Maine.

How to Formulate Hashtags

Oli's Trolley is a family friendly tour of the Arcadia National Park in Bar Harbor Maine. Overall Oli's Trolley does a very good job of promoting themselves with their website, Facebook and Twitter. With the baseline self-promotion using social media covered, the next step is to extend the scope and scale and let tour participants share their experience with others.

We can almost hear you ask - "How can Oli’s Trolley know which social media platform each person is using at any given moment?" Great question. The answer is: Oli’s Trolley Tours doesn’t need to know.

Hashtags are ubiquitous across all the major social media platforms, so Oli's Trolley Tours need not know of each person's choice beforehand, nor do they need to have a social connection established with each person ( e.g. following on Twitter, Google+ and Instagram, or "Like" on Facebook ). A hashtag is "good enough".

We can hear your next question too - "Facebook doesn't support hashtags, how can Oli's Trolley make use of hashtags on Facebook?". You're right, at least for now. Facebook recently bought Instagram. Hashtags are deeply integrated with the sharing of photos on Instagram, and as the new owners of the platform, Facebook will fully support hashtags naively ( Facebook has already co-opted Twitter's "@" mention functionality ).

The hashtag in this case is quite easy to build. The event name is unique and uses a small number of characters. We just remove the space between Oli's and Trolley, then throw out the apostrophe and volia! The #olistrolley hashtag is born.

With their unique hashtag established, Oli’s Trolley can take the next step -  when to use it.

When to use your new Hashtag

The Oli's Trolley tours run twice a day, one at 10:00 AM and another at 2:00 PM. The schedule is consistent and the tours run on consecutive days during the week, every week. The consistency of a repeating event is an advantage for when to use a hashtag.

Before the Event ( "anticipation" )

The hashtag gets the ball rolling right away, immediately after the ticket buyer prints out their ticket at home (The hashtag can appear on your choice of fulfillment options ) as seen below.

The ticket buyer can start participating right way too. Anticipation of the fun event can be shared with a tweet like "Our family just got our tickets to ride #olistrolley!" or they can just search for the hashtag using the social media platform of their choosing as a "look-ahead" to what others are saying. No need to follow or like, just a simple, no-commitment search.

During the Event ( "expression" )

As we saw in with 'The Hills' season premiere party in Part 1, the MTV producers simply put up signs around the venue politely asking that when partygoers share on their social media platform of choice, they use the unique "#TheHills" hashtag. The same polite request is what Oli's Trolley (and you!) should do.

Small signs can be made by local sign makers for a nominal cost. Like this for example:

Once made, the signs are placed inside the trolleys, politely asking the tour takers to share their experience in real time, using their favorite platform (i.e. Twitter, Google+). No need to dictate to the tour goer which social application to use, just let them do what's easiest for them.

After the Event (nostalgia)

Once the event is over, the experience changes from one of real-time expression into a fond memory. What remains are the status updates, check-ins and photos taken, each, regardless of the social media platform used, now contain your unique hashtag. That moment captured in a photo during the event may look something like this:

Why Hashtags are Important

Note the feedback loop that is beginning to emerge -- this is the business-critical "why" you should take the time to formulate your own unique hashtag.

Folks on the trolley sharing their experience as they take the tour are the source of the aforementioned "look ahead in anticipation".

The photos taken during the tour become the source of the nostalgic look back .

The hashtag generated feedback loop is self-perpetuating.

Anticipation, expression and looking back in fond memory are innate behaviors of all humans - no need for elaborate advertising or complicated public relations - it’s just what people do naturally.

Once this dynamo of human activity is initiated, very little is required to maintain it. The dynamo generates event awareness all on its own.

Monitoring the human activity that surrounds your unique hashtag is a critical aspect of running a successful venue/event. There are lightweight monitoring tools like simple searches:

There are also heavy weight tools like Radian 6 and the new Social Reports from Google Analytics.