7 Hashtag Mistakes to Avoid in Your Trade Show Strategy

October 25, 2016

In 2007, a man named Chris Messina changed the Internet forever. He posted an idea to his followers on Twitter: What if we could organize all of our conversations on the web with one simple symbol?

If you didn’t guess already, Chris invented the hashtag.

What was intended to be a simple organizational method became a powerful tool for individuals, brands, and even trade show exhibitors.

The hashtag is now common practice in trade show strategies. Organizations use it to generate buzz around a booth, as well as create awareness for their brands and brand campaigns. But as easily as a hashtag can enhance a show attendee’s experience, it can also #fail just as fast.

More important than using a hashtag at an exhibition is using it correctly. Whatever you do, do not commit the following mistakes when using a hashtag in your trade show strategy.

1. You aren’t promoting it.

If you want people to use your hashtag, they need to be able to find it. It’s that simple.

Include it on relevant pieces of marketing collateral, post messages on your own social accounts, and directly invite your attendees to use it either through an email or even in person. The old adage, “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply here. You need to let people know it exists!

2. It’s unreadable.

The perfect hashtag is a balance of form and function. You need to consider its appearance, its rhythm, its length, and above all, its readability. Attendees won’t use it if it takes up half of the character limit on Twitter. And they definitely won’t use it if they can’t read it. Take the following example:

DO: #GoExplore

DON’T: #gooutandlook

Same message, reimagined composition, night-and-day difference.

3. You didn’t research its current usage.

Using a hashtag that is already established isn’t a good look. You want to build a community around your own unique hashtag, not infiltrate one that already exists. Perform some simple research before deciding on a hashtag for your brand or campaign.

Trust us, it’s worth the trouble. You never know how people are using it already.

4. It’s not connected to your brand or campaign. 

At the end of the day, your hashtag should accomplish two things: first, provide value to your prospects; and second, generate awareness for your brand.

Ensure the language used in your hashtag recalls either your brand’s identity, a specific campaign, or if you’re a skilled, social media expert, both of them!

5. You didn’t integrate it into your interactive design.

If you have the resources to integrate interactive media into your trade show booth, curate a live feed of attendees using your hashtag. This feed becomes a live enhancement to your trade show marketing, and it also adds another level of engagement for your exhibit’s visitors.

(Not to mention, it’s really, really cool).

6. There’s no one from your team monitoring it.

You’ve done the planning, the printing, and the promoting. Now, you need to make sure your hashtag sings. Dedicate a member of your team to monitor the use of your hashtag before, during, and after your exhibition.

Hashtags give you a rare opportunity to connect with your potential customers online. Monitoring a hashtag opens a window into the conversation about your brand, providing you with valuable social media listening data.

Even more, hashtags offer the opportunity to interact with your prospects one-on-one. Reach out to them, answer their questions, and become their go-to resource for whatever product or service you offer. 

7. People don’t have a reason to use it.

This is a principle often forgotten. But it’s a big impetus for attendees to use a brand’s hashtag. Essentially, you need to ask yourself this: what’s in it for the user?

Will tweets be live and on display? Will users potentially win something for using it? Does your hashtag spark an engaging dialogue about a hot topic? Use an incentive and bake it into your hashtag’s campaign. It will strengthen brand associations and keep your audience coming back for more.

Hashtags are just the tip of the trade show marketing iceberg. Take a look at how we’ve used the right mixture of strategy and design to make our clients’ exhibits rise above the rest. Check out our work.