Hashtags are a great way to organize tweets around conversations and events. If you’re new to twitter, check out this Twitter Help Center page about hashtags. Creating a hashtag is easy but a lot of thought must go into the process. These steps will walk you through creating a hashtag for your event but can also be used for creating any type of hashtag.
1. Think: choose a hashtag that can easily correlate to your event
What type of abbreviations can you use? If there will be live-tweeting at your event, make sure you choose something that can be easily typed. Keep it short and sweet but not so short that it becomes confusing.
Should you use the year in it? I’ve seen a lot of hashtags that use “2010″ or just “10″ as a date. Twitter search history lasts only a few days so there’s no need to differentiate your annual events by adding the year to your hashtag. Remember that people will be live-tweeting and it takes an extra step to add numbers on a mobile device.
2. Research: are your choices already being used?
There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing that people are already using your hashtag for a different meaning. A quick search on search.twitter.com will only provide recent results so searches on hashtags.org, What the Hashtag and Twubs are also necessary. Yes, it’s a lot of searching but you must confirm that your hashtag is unique.
3. Register: save it
Once you’ve decided on a hashtag and researched to make sure it’s not already being used, it’s time to register it. This will not only place ownership on the hashtag but some registries can save hashtag usage far beyond what is capable in twitter’s search. Two of my favorite sites for this are What the Hashtag and Twubs.
What the Hashtag is an excellent resource for creating hashtag transcripts. This is what we use for #tourismchat transcripts. Select a date or date range to get a transcript with a customized URL, which you can link to for specific dates of usage. The hashtag’s page gives you basic stats for the past 7 days and can even be customized with a description, related hashtags and links.
Twubs can also be customized with details about the event, custom icon and background image. You can even tweet from this page (connect it to your twitter account) and it will add the hashtag to your tweets. What I love about this site is that it collects images and videos tagged with your hashtag. It’s a one-stop-shop for all things related to your hashtag.
4. Promote: get the word out
There’s nothing quite as sad as creating a fabulous hashtag and then wondering why people aren’t using it. When using the hashtag for an event, make sure you include the hashtag on all of your registration material, printed and online. Don’t only state what the hashtag is but also educate attendees on how to follow the hashtag and maybe even how to use twitter. If you have a main twitter account that will be tweeting about the event, include the hashtag in your twitter bio.
5. Follow: watch what people are saying
Set up a column in TweetDeck or HootSuite or save a search on twitter.com for your hashtag. It’s important to watch it and respond to people when they use it, especially if they’re asking questions.
6. Use: show by example
Now that you’ve created your hashtag and are starting to promote it, make sure you use it before the event so there will be tweets when people look it up. During your event, include the hashtag on all event-related tweets. If you’re tweeting from a laptop rather than a mobile device, consider using a TweetChat room or the Twubs site. A TweetChat room will display only tweets that use the specific hashtag. It updates automatically and allows you to tweet right from the site, including the hashtag at the end of every tweet you send.
7. Display: let everyone see it
At your event, consider displaying your hashtag on a screen so that all can view the related tweets. Twitterfall is an excellent and well-known site for this and offers many options including speed, showing retweets, geolocation and exclusions.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll soon reach hashtaggery enlightenment.