How to Use Conference #Hashtags

Career Blog

Published: June 16, 2017 by Kate M. Spaulding

Use Twitter to enhance your conference experience, whether you’re attending or not!

It’s (un)officially summer, which means conference season is warming up (or fiery hot). These days, in addition to weird acronyms and too many reusable bags, conferences also come with their very own Twitter hashtags. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at this point, but they actually can be useful. #trust

Let’s start with a few basics:

  • A hashtag, which always begins with the # symbol, works almost like a controlled vocabulary keyword. Although hashtags are user-generated (i.e., Twitter doesn’t make these up, tweeters do), people – or groups of people – can use them to help make their posts findable.
  • Hashtags are clickable. So when you see a tweet that uses one, click the hashtag to see more messages that use the same hashtag. You’ll see all messages using the hashtag from all public accounts, not just from those you follow.
  • Hashtags are searchable. Whether you have a Twitter account or not, you just search Twitter. Easy as pie.
  • Don’t add punctuation or spaces to your hashtag. If you do, it won’t work properly. If you want to create the impression of a space, I recommend the underscore ( _ ) symbol, but I think most people just mush all their numbers and letters together #plusthatwayitsmorefuntodecipher
  • For more on hashtags, visit Twitter’s support page.

Who uses conference hashtags?

  • Conference attendees who are live-tweeting at a presentation, commenting on a poster session, sharing photos, or who want to share information with the group.
  • Conference attendees who want to stay up-to-date on conference news, glean info from sessions they missed, or join in the conversation.
  • Conference presenters who want to publicize their session, provide additional info, share slides or other materials.
  • Conference organizers who want to build excitement or share information with attendees.
  • Interested parties who are not attending the conference. Tweets from public accounts are, well, public, so anyone can see them (Twitter user or not).

That last bullet point is particularly important because it means that even if you’re not attending a conference, you can follow along online, learn a lot, and even network and make connections. If you’re already following people who are at the conference, follow their Twitter trail to find new accounts of interest, and let the conference hashtag guide you to tweeters you never would have found otherwise. Hashtags help anyone, anywhere join the conversation.

Attending a conference?

Want some help following along?

  • There are several social-media management tools available that help manage accounts and posts. I can’t recommend one because I (still) haven’t started using one. It’s on my ever-growing to-do list though, so please let us know in the comments if you have any recommendations!
  • TweetDeck
  • Hootsuite