Scouts and social media go together like selfies and hashtags – which means Scouters have to get on board with social trends too (hint: it’s never too late to start effectively reaching potential Scouts and their parents).
And if everything I just said sounds like I’m speaking another language, no worries. We’ve got some tips to get you hashtagging in no time.
Let’s start by answering the age-old (or at least as old as Twitter) question: “What’s a hashtag?”
A hashtag is the “#” symbol placed in front of a search term or phrase to indicate to a social platform and users, “you can click this and see other posts mentioning the same hashtagged content.”
Sometimes you’ll hear the word “hashtag” in reference to the search term being associated with a post and sometimes people use it to reference only the “#” symbol. That means you might hear the word used like this:
“Hey, what’s the hashtag for this event?”
“It’s hashtag Beaumont Scout Reservation 2017.”
So the event hashtag would be #BeaumontScoutReservation2017.
Where Can I Use Hashtags?
Most widely-used social media platforms support hashtags. Here’s how:
- Twitter – Use hashtags here to tie your tweets to conversations outside your immediate network. If you want to jump into the#BoyScouts conversation, to promote #Troop836FoodDrive, incorporate both hashtags into a tweet. Once you publish a tweet with hashtags, they become links to conversations involving the same hashtag.
- Instagram – These hashtags tie photos together. This is very similar to Twitter hashtags but the emphasis is visual versus bites of information.
- Facebook – Publishing a Facebook hashtag is as easy as publishing a Facebook post. Click published hashtags to see other posts that use the same tag. It’s less conversation-focused and more about sorting by topic on Facebook. This is especially true as many users have robust privacy settings that may not allow you to interact with their posts.
- Pinterest – Pinterest hashtags are only clickable in pin descriptions. Although generally functional, hashtags are not instrumental for Pinterest users.
- Snapchat – There are no hashtags here. But Snapchat has an answer to that in geofilters. We won’t go too far into them now, but filters allow users to show where they are with preset graphics. Snapchat connects users to more personalized, smaller networks so hashtags are not the name of the game.
Why Create or Participate in Using a Hashtag?
Aside from the importance of being familiar with current communications trends to effectively reach your current audience (Scouts and their parents), the real bottom line of creating and using hashtags lies in recruiting an outside audience. As you create event buzz in the form of hashtagged photos, videos, and posts, you garner positive awareness for all the awesome things Scouts do.
Here’s a real world example:
A Cub Scout leader decides to associate #Pack235Overnight with all her pack’s overnights. Then, she searches this hashtag on Instagram to re-share (with parents’ permission) all the great photos of Cub Scouts having fun.
Plus, as each parent shares photos using #Pack235Overnight, parents unfamiliar with Scouting see the event shared from someone they trust. They may tap the hashtag to see other parents and Scouts having the times of their lives.
You can see the tremendous recruiting opportunities here. The key is making sure you create unique, easy-to-remember hashtags.
Before I turn it over to you, let’s look at two sub-optimal hashtags and the common pitfalls plaguing the # symbol:
- #DayCamp – this is too generic. You may use this in Austin, TX, while another den uses it in Auburn, NY. The geographical targeting and promotion of YOUR event/unit are lost in a generic hashtag. Consider adding a city or unit name to drill down your target audience. We encourage you to use broader hashtags like #CubScouts, #BoyScouts, #BeAScout, etc. in addition to the targeted hashtags you promote. This way, you tie your events to a larger conversation about Scouting and Scouting experiences.
- #ILoveMyScoutTroopExperienceWithTroop452 – this is too long. When a Scout mom snaps a perfect photo of her Scout in front of his Eagle Scout project, she needs to be able to easily remember what hashtag you asked her to use. Otherwise, you’re missing awareness and recruiting opportunities. Aim for short and specific.
Now, let’s hear from you: what’s the hashtag you’re planning to use (or are already using) for your camp, unit, or Scouting events? If you’re not sure yet or still have questions, don’t hesitate to ask! Reach out in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org