Meredith Turner
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What’s in a Tag? A Quick Primer on #SIOP19

Paul H. Thoresen, SIOP Electronic Communications Committee Chair, and J. Drake Terry SIOP Electronic Communications Committee, Old Dominion University

Use the #SIOP19 tag on social media for the upcoming SIOP conference. Hashtags used effectively leave important bread crumbs for others to follow to I-O psychology gold. 

What is the big deal about using hashtags? People get encouraged to use them, and some people clearly use them a little too much. There are those on social media who almost never use tags and on the other end of the continuum those on social media who have fun trying to make up new ones on a frequent basis. But what is the purpose or the actual functionality of a hashtag? The functionality of a hashtag is to tie together all of the content with that tag into one news stream. They are more than just a “cool” thing that adds an aesthetic to your social media post.

How is a hashtag created? By the person who makes it! For example, for years the hashtag for the annual conference has been the letters SIOP followed by the two digits of the year. In the year 2012 the hashtag was #SIOP12 and the tag for the next SIOP conference is #SIOP19. As long as we have been on social media this has been the hashtag naming convention for SIOP.

Who determines what tag is the official hashtag? Well, when it comes to conferences, the conference organizer determines what the official tag is. If the Academy of Management (#AOM2012) or the Society of Human Resource Professionals (#SHRM18) have a tag for their conference, the society picks the naming convention.  The Organization Development Network (#ODemergence) recently changed theirs from the fairly conventional association acronym followed by a 2 or 4-digit combination to their own new tag to reflect their 2018 conference theme. The HR Technology conference simply uses #HRTechConf every year for example.

Why in the world does it matter? Hashtags on social media platforms (Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) hyperlink to content shared using the identical hashtag. Think of it as a Google search using quotation marks around your search parameter. So, when you use a conference tag, it instantly hyperlinks to what other people are sharing using that exact same hashtag.  One difference between a typical Google search and a hashtag search is there is absolutely no fuzzy logic—what you type is what you get. Use a tag like #IOPsychology and that means you only get content using that tag and NOT content that used #IOPsych, or #OrgPsych, #WOPsych, #OccPsych, #BizPsych or any other derivation, unless a post used multiple tags in which case it will show up, but not for the reason you may have thought.

For a conference this becomes more important to use the search functionality of a hashtag.  If we are at a great session and decide to quickly share key takeaways and a photo with the tag #SIOP19 then other people do a Twitter search for #SIOP19 they find that information. For those at the conference, they can search quickly and easily by clicking on the tag. For those not at the conference they too can follow the conference without being at the event. Think of it as “There can be only One!” There is only one official tag so why spend precious time searching derivations of that tag?

There seems to be a decent amount of confusion with what tag to use for the conference. Many people, especially those new to social media will use #SIOP2019. Guess what? That is not the tag for this conference. That is a tag for a conference by a paediatric oncology society, not a conference on I-O psychology. Sometimes this #SIOP2019 usage may be intentional as it does make sense since the year is 2019. Sometimes we are just moving fast and that is what comes out of us. Sometimes, we assume based on other conference naming convention (AOM, etc.) that it must be the way all conferences do it. But it is not the tag for the April 2019 SIOP conference. 

The last couple of years more people on Instagram shared content from the conference using #SIOP with four digits rather than two. If you search #SIOP17 you receive 105 results, and #SIOP2017 yields 534 results. Now some of these are about an oncology conference. But, imagine if all SIOPers were swimming in the same lane and everyone knew that to get results from our conference all you had to do was one search on #SIOP17 with no oncology results? 😊

A skeptical reader (e.g., especially one who is not on Twitter) may read this and determine it is not important. We get that. But according to the 2017 SIOP social media survey, “94% of respondents use social media, either personally or professionally.” (Armstrong, Poeppelman, Thornton, & Sinar, 2017). Another skeptical reader may doubt that #SIOP2019 (or #SIOP2018 #SIOP2017, etc.) are not the “official” hashtags. We encourage you to search the official @SIOPtweets Twitter feed for #SIOP2019 OR #SIOP2018 OR #SIOP2017 OR #SIOP2016 from:SIOPtweets and so on you might get one or two hits. Then repeat the search for #SIOP19 OR #SIOP18 OR #SIOP17 OR #SIOP16 from:SIOPtweets. You will get hundreds of hits. You can conduct a similar search in the SIOP website. Just remember friends don’t let friends use #SIOP2019…

Screen shot of Whova stream (post conference)

What Can You Do?

Use the hashtag #SIOP19 when posting relevant information on social media (even Linkedin integrated the hashtag search back into their search parameters after removing it for several years).  If you have been on social media for a while, maybe help gently mentor the newbies. If you are presenting at the conference, make sure to use the tag leading up to the conference as well as during the conference. If you are attending but not presenting then use the tag by posting with it but also searching the stream for other interesting posts. Hopefully posts will also show up in your newsfeeds. If you are not at the conference, you have a free window into the event, and it is the next best thing to being there!

What Can SIOP Do?

Continue to make the hashtag visible, add it to conference graphics, share content from attendees, and continue to encourage presenters and attendees on social media to use #SIOP19. 

If part of our goal is to spread the good word of I-O Psychology then let's make it easy, attractive, social, and timely (EAST). If our goal is to share science, then it is our obligation to break down barriers. Using one unified hashtag for the next conference can help in making I-O more visible and accessible. Imagine if the next SIOP conference and I-O psychology were actually trending on social media because more of us are intentionally using the same tag of #SIOP19.

Wondering What to Share Using the #SIOP19 Tag?

Obviously, you can share whatever you want using the #SIOP19 conference tag. However, if you are looking for a few tips, read on.

There will be differences by platform such as more professional shares for Linkedin and more emphasis on photos on Instagram. A common post though is a photo with colleagues both well known and newly acquainted. This is also true if reuniting with classmates or former work colleagues. It would be common to tag the others in the photo (if they are on the same platform) so they too can comment or reshare if they want.

It is perfectly acceptable to promote your sessions if you are presenting. Some people might be uncomfortable with this, feel it is too self-promotional, or not want to brag. Get over it. Let people know about your own upcoming sessions as well as sessions you will attend.

Richard Landers #SIOP19

Share what you are learning at the event, what you enjoy, and what you wish were better. There is no need to only share positives though. If the room is full or the hallways impassable feel free to let others know! Consider it a PSA.       

What some of us really enjoy about social media at conferences is shared learning. If you are in a session and the presenters are dropping truth bombs, share with others. This is even easier now on twitter with the increased character count from 140 up to 280. Snap photos (example here, here, and here) to go with the key takeaways to help others who may not be in attendance. Social media shares with an image are more likely to have higher engagement. If you are presenting a poster, for goodness sakes help others know about it! And do not forget to have fun with social media.

For those who want to do “advanced sharing” there is always live tweeting. Basically, this is real-time sharing of what you are getting out of a session. This adds value for those reading the live tweets and you can thread it like Aaron Kraus does here. As another example, MPPAW has recently added this to their monthly programs and done a fantastic job of it.

There you have a short rundown of ideas to share using the #SIOP19 hashtag. It is not an all-inclusive list. Should you want further ideas, reach out to the Electronic Communications Committee and we will be more than happy to help!

Special thanks to Andrew Collmus and Koen Smets for special request reviews and helpful suggestions. 


Armstrong, B., Poeppelman, T., Thornton, J., & Sinar E. SIOP Content Initiative (SCi) Task Force. (2017) How SIOP members are using social media professionally: Survey results. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 55, 2. 

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