Friday, February 01, 2008

what if we threw a party and....

...everybody came? That's the challenge some organizations are facing when they don't take the time to think through their experiments in using social media as an announcement tool. Witness this, courtesy of the DCist blog: The Embassy of Sweden's new Washington, D.C., home, House of Sweden, decided to post an invitation on Facebook, highlighting an art exhibit opening at its new digs. At DCist's time of posting, 2,100 people had replied "yes," a number that later climbed to more than 2,700, with more than 700 "maybes" (you'll need a Facebook login to see the page). As with the advent of other new technologies (think voicemail, or the Web itself), social media options can expand your audience responses before you have time to say "Swedish Embassy." The solution: Old-fashioned communications planning. Think through the possible scenarios, and your solutions and responses. In this case, the Embassy -- with a capacity of 400 people per event -- decided to start a rope line, admitting people only once others departed. And in this case, we're sure that the lack of planning had an impact on everything from building maintenance to the bar and catering orders. We don't see the overflow as a crisis, but advise you don't get caught underestimating your audience in this way. (DCist itself was surprised when its first exhibit of photos published on the blog drew nearly 600 attendees, even though it was only advertised on its own site.) We still hear too many clients assuming that Facebook, MySpace or other networking sites yield only limited responses--just be sure you're ready for any scenario.

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