Dated event hashtags are so passé

HashtagHashtags are the lifeblood of conversation around your exhibition or conference, so it’s important to choose the right one. Just like a Goldilocks social media breakfast, it shouldn’t be too long, too obscure or too tricky to spell.

But what about timely? If you want your hashtags to live on in post-show engagement and discussion, it’s best to steer clear of dates, for example #yourevent13. And by choosing a hashtag with year-round appeal and relevancy, you don’t need to coach the community on using your #2014 tag – it’s already embedded in the conversation.

Also consider how you use your brand within your hashtag – or whether you leave it out altogether. A good hashtag is often one which is absorbed into the community and used in discussions not directly related to your event, but around the show’s topics or focus area.

We’ve seen this around #Ecobuild which is being used by the community as a synonym for sustainability in the built environment, and #thinkcircular on our Resource Event. #ThinkCircular is not only arguably a more interesting and appealing hashtag compared with #ResourceEvent, but has year-round relevancy for the community – it’s really taken on a life of its own since the show team started using it.

However not using your brand within a hashtag does carry its own risks, after all there’s nothing stopping a competitor jumping on your successful hashtag bandwagon, but I would argue that if you’re the first to adopt this as your event-related hashtag (obviously don’t pick something really generic which is already in use within the community, such as #furniture) you’ll be claiming it as your own and sending a signal to the community that you’re in social for the right reasons – to foster conversation, share knowledge, and be useful – not just to talk about your brand 24/7.

Social media advertising isn’t social media, it’s just ads

Twitter small bizA couple of weeks ago Twitter announced that advertising is now available for small and medium sized business in UK, Ireland and Canada. This move now makes social media advertising affordable for those of us with more modest marketing budgets across the Big Three (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) by using their self-serve ad platforms. Certainly more affordable than the £5k minimum spend per month per @handle which I was recently quoted by their ads team (not a great fit for a large business such as UBM which is made up of lots of individual brands which are independently budgeted for).

That aside, what’s really important to remember when we’re talking about social media advertising is that it isn’t social media, it’s just digital ads. There is no real social aspect to this marketing activity other than the fact it’s taking place on a social network, in short it’s a misnomer.

To get the most from social media you need to be social – and by that I mean that you need to engage and be engaging. It’s about those personal connections, having a conversation and doing something which resonates with your customers and wider community.

Whereas social media advertising is just another push marketing medium, it doesn’t build the relationship between the community and your brand. While it might help to grow your followers or increase your click throughs, it’s only a short term solution to the much bigger challenge of really understanding and getting to the heart of how your business can leverage the power social interactions. And promoting your tweets is not it.

The big business benefits come from social when you earn it. Take a look at this blog from Martin Zwilling in which he discusses Jim Tobin’s new book ‘Earn It. Don’t Buy It’, which really highlights the importance of engagement, engagement, engagement. And also take a look at Sarah Mason’s blog on why follower numbers are not the most important measurement of social success.

So while advertising on a social network might get you lots of lovely digital advertising metrics, which you may or may not actually be able to track back to real business benefit (does getting more followers mean we get more conversions?), just remember not to confuse it with actual social media engagement. Social media advertising is not a social media strategy, the two things are worlds apart.