Originally published on Feb 27, 2020.
I recently met with the director of marketing for a local retail developer who confided in me that she rarely sees people use hashtags to share photos from the many events she organizes. After talking with her and several others, I concluded that hashtags for events are dead.
Since Chris Messina, at Twitter, first proposed using a # in posts to index groups in 2007, hashtags have been used for everything. Everything from tag-lines for brands and campaigns to whatever is trending and each day-of-the-week has had a hashtag. Today, they are used mostly to filter discussions and search for content on social media.
So, why do few people use hashtags at events? I gathered 6 reasons why hashtags for events don’t work. Here they are:
- They are non-proprietary. Anyone can use yours for their own purposes. For example, #DDW2019 was used for several conferences last year including Digestive Diseases Week, Dutch Design Week, and Demand Driven World. Imagine the confusion this creates.
- They get hijacked. Spammers love hashtags. They are constantly trolling social media to steal whatever hashtags are trending and bombard you with ads and propaganda.
- People create their own. People forget your thoughtfully crafted hash and make up their own.
- Convincing people to use them is hard. It seems we are all either too busy or lazy to take the extra steps to use a hashtag. Unless there is some personal benefit or connection to your event, you can forget it.
- Hashtags are public. People today are more hesitant to share personal content, from private events, publicly on social media.
- They are annoying. Try #reading a #post with #every other #word has #a hashtag.
So, should event planners still use hashtags for their events? Probably. But I would also consider a more private space for guests to share content, specifically photos, with one another. One alternative is our app, Pixz. It is a free photo sharing app for groups and events for people to capture moments together instantly and privately without uploads or hashtags. I was inspired to build Pixz after returning from a wedding and realizing how hard it is to get photos taken by other guests.
Since our soft launch 5 weeks ago, we’ve grown 500% with thousands of photos shared. At a recent Mardi Gras event, we were able get 80 people to share 300 photos in real-time without a single hashtag.