Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dear Twestival...I owe you an apology

My friend, Bob, first alerted me to Twestival and the local Dallas event that was being organized, just about two weeks prior to the date of the scheduled event.

In that time, Lauren Vargas answered the call that was publicized by London resident and events-minded entrepreneur, Amanda Rose. Hundreds of other volunteers answered the call to organize local events in over 200 cities around the world. The London group of twitters who organized a tweet up with a fund raising recipient (charity : Water) last year, shared their learning experience and merely announced that the event was "going global" when 50 cities had local volunteers sign on.

It was exciting to watch, and by the time I decided to observe the Dallas event as closely as I could, there were only 10 days remaining before the planned event. Several volunteer chair positions had been created and filled by people like Lauren who were simply looking for ways to share what expertise they might be able to lend. This is where I first failed you, Dallas Twestival, and I am sorry. I should have been looking for a way to share the professional knowledge and expertise that I had.

This is the essence of what I am learning about social media. What makes it really sing is the recognition of it as an emerging, open-source conversation. The most transparent, authentic voices participating in the conversation are generally the most appreciated voices...just like any conversation.

This is the professional strategy information that I wish I had humbly offered up to you, Dallas Twestival. It is late, I know, but I offer these bits of strategy in hopes that I might be a better participant the next time we meet. Perhaps

1. Order the schedule of events in a way to make a direct appeal for gifts. Many people who attend a fund raising event simply need to be asked to give. Most attenders are prepared to be challenged to give over and above the ticket paid for admission.

2. Tipjoy was a great tool we could have used, while at the event, to secure additional gifts and pledges. A group-led event of being guided through the donation process (tipjoy or whatever) would have possibly garnered attention and small donations from passer-bys.

3. When I saw the big screen at the event, I thought for sure we would use it to watch the #dallastwestival or #twestival feeds. It would have bee a clever way to corporately watch the community interact with those who weren't able to be with us in the flesh.

4. Use the event to coordinate a strategic appeal that leverages the networks of our assembled twitterati. Many people will give when they hear a specific, impassioned appeal from a friend. If we took a few minutes to do our own little twitter bomb on our own networks, guided by the emcee, it would be both a fun group activity and a great way to get a few additional gifts.

The fantastic event that was had all around the world raised a bunch of money for a great cause. My reflection on how it went is not a critique on the amazing efforts by people who stepped up and shared their expertise properly. This is simply me, ripping myself for not authentically bringing my best effort to the Twestival table. It is also my commitment to share all of my goodies the next time around.

Sorry, Twestival, I treated you too much like an interesting case study to observe instead of engaging what you really are.

The ironic admission is not lost on me -- Tech Hermit ought to come out of his observatory cave more often.

[Punching myself in the throat as gently and firmly as possible]