Apr 10, 2020

📸 Hashtags for events are dead: Here’s 6 reasons why

Michael Kelso

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. People create their own. People forget your thoughtfully crafted hash and make up their own.
  4. 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.
  5. Hashtags are public. People today are more hesitant to share personal content, from private events, publicly on social media.
  6. 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.

You can find Pixz in the App Store and Google Play. It’s free to download.

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