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Results Are In: #GuacNRoll Was the Most Popular SXSW Hashtag A small nonprofit marketing Mexican avocados loomed large at the premier tech fest that just concluded.

By Jill Schiefelbein

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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SXSW, a space known for innovation and the unexpected, didn't fall short this year. But who were the leaders in the digital conversation surrounding the event? Using data obtained from Keyhole, the winner comes as a delicious and bewildering surprise.

Avocados from Mexico (AFM), a not-for-profit organization coordinating marketing for the Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association and Association of Growers and Packers of Avocados From Mexico, took top billing with #GuacNRoll. The hashtag garnered more than 32,000 posts and 200 million impressions, nearly triple the second place.

How on Earth did a small organization seemingly unrelated to SXSW dominate the digital space? Two things -- conversation and collaboration.

"There is no paid media stronger than human influence. Our strategy in the digital conversation is focused around social influencers and leveraging brand ambassadors. By engaging attendees inside and outside of SXSW with a common hashtag, and partnering with musicians at SXSW in our Guacamole Showdown, we were able to do this at a high level that achieved a wide reach," says Ivonne Kinser, Director of Digital Strategy at AFM.

Related: 8 Reasons Why Every Business Needs Custom Twitter Hashtags

One strategy for leveraging a hashtag in multiple communities is to collaborate with different entities and to do cross promotions with the same hashtag. In the instance of #GuacNRoll, this was used at the sampling tent that AFM hosted at the SouthBites Trailer Park, in coasters that were scattered around concert venues and bars on Rainey Street, at the Guacamole Showdown with over 30 invited bands, and it was also used to give away prizes.

"The GuacNRoll hashtag ties into multiple conversations with different communities," Kinser says, "bringing them together and expanding the reach of the digital footprint."

Related: The Ultimate Hashtag Cheat Sheet (Infographic)

And AFM's approach to seeing this as a conversation is important, as they treat this as a two-way street. While at SXSW, when I used #GuacNRoll the first time, I got a tweet back from @AvosfromMexico recognizing my tweet and providing me a tasty avocado recipe. That's clever and quick engagement.

"We are passionate about the product we represent," says Kinser. "It's t's nice to be part of an effort that promotes something that is good for people and can also generate conversations around important issue, such as health and wellbeing. And when you can add something fun to the mix, like music, it makes for a good combination."

Related: Another Hashtag Hijack: NYPD's Twitter Campaign Backfires

In thinking about your own digital conversation strategy, if you can go beyond a "thank you" and provide value to your community, that's where digital engagement can empower others to consume (or use) your product.

You don't have to have a big budget to lead a digital conversation. But you do have to find innovative ways to collaborate, engage, and lead. And if that fails, just have some guacamole.

Jill Schiefelbein

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Professional Speaker and Business Communication Expert

Jill Schiefelbein is a former professor, professional speaker, and business communication expert. From analyzing documents obtained from military raids of terrorist camps to dissect jihadi communication strategies, building an online education office serving more than 60,000 students, to her own award-winning entrepreneurial ventures, Schiefelbein loves a strategic challenge. Her business, The Dynamic Communicator, creates and executes communication strategies that help companies solve problems, retain talent and produce revenue. Pre-order her new book Dynamic Communication (Entrepreneur Press, March 2017) today.

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