Last weekend, I opted to lounge on the couch and watch some good ol’ TV. With such a busy schedule, it’s not often that I get to just hang out on the couch without a laptop in front of me working away. I landed on Jim Gaffigan‘s new special – Mr. Universe – a hysterical commentary on our society. At one point, he mentioned this obsession we have with taking pictures of everything in life and sharing it virally on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Where we used to enjoy experiences, we simply capture them now using all forms of technology. He was making a good point, but I made a note of this cultural difference. Yesterday, I saw someone post this picture that I’ve shared here on the blog. “You should post an Instagram photo of your Facebook page to let everyone know what you are doing. And to make it look vintage”. With all the joking about this topic, I realized that there are a lot of people out there who really don’t get this phenomenon, or who even see it as a bad thing. It got me thinking.
I think, in some ways, this trend is actually really important. 30 years ago, all we had to rely on was our memory. And, if you’re like me, that’s not something you can really rely on. With all the new forms of technology, we can actually capture photos (that look pretty cool) and share the experience with people who can’t physically join us. When we tweet, we can share little bits of information and experiences that can be shared widely. I’ve started many fun friendships based on little things I’ve tweeted that “no one cares about”.
And, finally, as an event planner, I have to make a tie to what this means for our events.
If you haven’t seen this trend already, I think you’ve been in a hole somewhere. No matter what event you attend or plan, there are attendees everywhere – snapping pictures and videos and tweeting and doing all of these things. Why? Ultimately because they are sharing their experience. If you haven’t planned an event they enjoy, the event can go viral in the most negative way. But, if you are creating a memorable experience (what we all strive for in this profession), you can make HUGE waves with your events, no matter how small they are. A small meetup can turn into a huge monthly gathering – just because people become interested once they’ve seen the pictures and videos.
This is certainly a huge shift in our culture, but as event planners, it can be to our advantage. Create moments that your attendees will want to remember for years to come. Create experiences that can be shared. Make this easier for your attendees and see the rewards that come your way. And, of course, plan for the worst. Think about all the things that could go wrong – what would happen if they are shared – and do what you can to make sure those things don’t happen. It’s easier said than done, I know. But in the end, this shift is huge for our industry and the world in general. Good luck to all of us as we ride this wave and see what’s coming next!