At the Myer Christmas windows last December I Instagrammed the big mechanical Gingerbread Cat above against a reflection of the buildings opposite. I applied a filter (Mayfair) and the ‘Myer Christmas Windows’ geo-tag. But I hesitated on the hashtag – there was nothing to indicate what the ‘official’ Myer Christmas Windows tag was. Where was the designated tag that the Myer online marketing folk would surely have wanted me and others to use to make it easy for us to collectively share our window viewing experiences on our Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts? You know, to encourage online sharing and buzz around their branded, off-line event.
Left up to my own devices I started with logic: #myerchristmaswindows2013 made sense but seemed ridiculously long (and to bolt the year on the end or not?). Or should I use something in keeping with the theme of the windows for that year, e.g. #gingerbreadfriends? No, too vague. Maybe #myerxmas? Or #myergingerbread? No, too ambiguous. In the interests of time I settled on #gingerbread – yes, pretty lame.
The lack of an obvious hashtag to use effectively fractured the Myer Christmas Windows viewing community. It’s unlikely the majority of us would ever discover each other’s images and tweets – and that’s a shame. Today, the social back-channel streams of content and engagement serve to enhance the traditional front-channel, live activity. In short it’s fun sharing a common experience online with strangers (and absent friends).
If you’re hosting your own event, give thought to prominently displaying a unique hashtag for your quests or visitors to use. It’ll take the guesswork out of the process for them, facilitate a sense of community, and make it easier for you to respond to anyone who has been so kind as to share your (branded) moment with others. Then run a hashtag search during or after the event on a multi-platform search engine such as Tagboard and collate the very best of what was posted. These branded, earned social media assets are gold – recycle the best of them through your own social media platforms.
Ideas for hashtag placement:
- On any marketing hardcopy collateral leading up to an event
- On any social media channels supporting an event
- At the entrance of the event venue
- On the event ticket
- Printed on the event program or guide
- Behind the event bar or other service areas
- At the bottom of food and drinks menus