December 20, 2013

Using Twitter hashtags to promote your event

Updated: September 27, 2015

Using hashtags to promote your event will raise awareness in advance, encourage attendance, and enable those who are there to track the event and those who aren't able to attend to follow along.

Attracting people using a popular hashtag

To attract people to your event who may not be familiar with your event or your organization, use a hashtag that they might use to find events of interest to them, such as the topic, type of event, or location.  

You can search for hashtags within Twitter and on Google, and within some of the other social services. (See the list of several social services that support hashtags below.) There are also free tools, such as Hashtagify, HashAtIt, hshtags, and others, as well as tools with a monthly fee, that help you research and analyze hashtags.

This example is from a search on Twitter and shows the hashtag that was popular for events, programs, and posts connected to the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act: #StampAct250.

Raising awareness of your event with a unique event hashtag

To reinforce awareness of your own event, choose a hashtag for your event that's short and that, ideally, makes it easy for someone to connect it back to your organization. One of the frustrating things about hashtags is that it's often not easy to figure out the event behind a hashtag without doing a web search.  Embedding your organization's name or the topic of the event helps convey some information without a search. 

Using hashtags to promote your event

These screenshots from Twitter show the way that the New England Museum Association (NEMA) promoted and used a hashtag for their 2013 conference.  As you can see, they included it in their conference program (top), as well as other communications.  Attendees included it in their tweets; a search on #nema2013 on Twitter returns all of the tweets that included that hashtag.

Using Twitter hashtags to promote your event

The last screenshot shows the hashtag on the event page on The History List. We've added a box to the "Add event" form where you simply type it in.  

In addition to Twitter, hashtags can be used in . . .

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • Tumblr
  • YouTube
  • Vine
  • Flickr


  • Find one or more popular hashtags that are relevant to your target audience.  Something like #history is too broad and used in too many ways for it to be useful to you.
  • Create a hashtag for your event. Because anyone can create a hashtag, you have a better chance of activity focusing on your desired event hashtag if you get out in front and establish one early on.  
  • Check the hashtag you're thinking about using for your event to see if someone else has used it recently.  Ideally, your event hashtag should be unique.  It should also be short since every character counts against your maximum message length of 140 characters.
  • Include it in your site, e-mail messages about the event, press release announcing it, conference program, and tweets about the event.
  • Include it on your event page on The History List.
  • Encourage your speakers and attendees to include it in their tweets.
  • Include it on your signage at the event. 
  • Post it in the session rooms and encourage your speakers to announce it as a reminder—Pictured at right, a sign with the #HistoryCamp hashtag in one of the session rooms at History Camp Boston in 2015.  This one-day event had about 100 tweets and nearly 100,000 impressions.
  • Your early tweets announcing your event and leading up to it might include both the topic hashtag and your event hashtag.


Here's one attendee's reaction to using Twitter and a conference hashtag extensively:

Using hashtags to promote your events on The History List

This was the first conference I have devoted any real time to Twitter. The #nema2013 hashtag was lively without being overwhelmingly busy. I am sure that tweeting can be a distraction for some, but for me it’s no more distracting than taking notes (in which I sometimes go on tangents in the margins about something at school or work related to the presentation topic). I was using Twitter to connect with colleagues, but I was surprised to find that tweeting about sessions can be a very useful thought exercise. In coming up with concise restatements of a session’s biggest takeaways as it was going on, I was synthesizing and sorting information on a level and speed I rarely do. #youlearnsomethingneweveryday

— From a post by Phillippa Pitts on the Tufts University Museum Studies blog


Related resources:

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November 15, 2013

Collaboration for non-profits: Case studies and guidelines

This week in Newport, Rhode Island, the New England Museum Association held its 95th annual conference.  I joined Adriene Katz of the Shelburne Museum, Jennifer Brundage of the Smithsonian, and Debbie Douglas of MIT in presenting on the topic, "Collaborations: Who, What, When, Where, Why--and Why Not," on November 14, 2013.

My presentation (below) discusses collaboration and provides examples from history-related organizations.  The document below that provides guidelines for successful collaborations and is based on the round table discussions that took place during the second half of the session. 



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November 2, 2013

Case study: Creating a regional network of historical societies for joint marketing

The fourth in an occasional series of case studies on the way in which history organizations are promoting their sites, exhibits, and events.  This will also be presented during a panel on collaboration at the New England Museum Association's 2013 conference.  

Title: Pioneer Valley History Network

Pioneer Valley History Network 2013 brochure

Description: A network of museums in Western Massachusetts that promote their events and raise awareness in history in their region.

Origin: The first meetings were held in 2006 and convened by the staff at Historic Deerfield.  They helped nurture the group through its initial stages until the Network  established its own identity,  eventually stepping out from under the umbrella of Historic Deerfield.  The staff at Historic Deerfield continues to be very helpful.

Objective: To promote and provide effective communication and collaboration among the historical societies, historic sites, and history museums of the Pioneer Valley, and to foster a public appreciation for, and awareness of, these repositories of history.

Activities: The organization e-mails notifications of history-related events throughout Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties, has a site and blog, and holds workshops on topics of interest to the museum community.

Each year the organization selects a theme and encourages museums to create a display or exhibit, host a speaker, or have an event related to the theme.  These are then promoted through the network.  Some examples: Disasters in the Valley, Remarkable Women, and The Connecticut River & its Tributaries.  (View the entire 2013 brochure, pictured at right, online.)

Operations: The organization is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation run by a Board of Directors, which meets about monthly and selects officers annually.  The formal legal structure was created primarily so the organization could apply for grants.  This also created a corporate identity separate from Historic Deerfield. 

Results:  The organization has grown slowly and steadily, reaching out to both history organizations individuals interested in history.  On the organization side, there are 43 sites listed on the site now.  The events e-mail list has about 250 individuals.

There are no formal memberships for either organizations or individuals.

Lessons learned:  According to Cliff McCarthy, one of the organizers of the Pioneer Valley History Network and an archivist at the Museum of Springfield History:


Just do it.  Don’t worry about all reasons you "can't:" No money, no time, no help, and all the others.  Find a way. If you have a good idea that meets a need, people will step up.  You can do amazing things with volunteers.


For more information:

Case study date: November 2, 2013

To suggest or submit a case study, contact us.  Or use this outline to submit a case study.


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October 25, 2013

New research: What families want in a holiday event and what you should include in your ad, web listing, or press release to attract them to your event

In late October we conducted consumer survey research to help historical societies, historic sites, history museums, and other history organizations plan and communicate holiday activities that will attract a crowd.  The report with all of the results is shown below.  

It's available to download, along with holiday campaign materials, in one compressed file on the holiday campaign page.

List your holiday event and use the free materials to promote your holiday events, gifts, and gift memberships.

To read the report online, click on the arrows below the report window and it will pop up full screen.  You can download the report along with free holiday campaign materials from the holiday campaign for history page.  
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September 27, 2013

88 social media examples from historical societies, historic sites, history museums, and other history organizations

In the process of compiling our guide to social media for history organizations, we pulled together these examples from historical societies, historic sites, history museums, and other history organizations using social media, including Facebook (48), Twitter (32), Pinterest (6), and YouTube (2).

Do you have questions or suggestions about the way in which your organization handles social media?  Please send them in and we may include them in the guide.  If we do use yours, we'll attribute it to you—unless you'd rather we not.  Just let us know.  Your contributions can be as short as a single sentence or question, a few bullets, or a longer form case study with before and after data points.

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