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November 09, 2009

Making Them WANT To Do It (Apathy vs Engagement)

If you have ever attended a conference with us, you know we enjoy mixing stuff up through the use of Flashmobs and Blender Events, both of which stem from our Dance Floor Theory Leadership Training. The goals are to:

  1. Have Fun
  2. Increase Engagement
  3. Build Relationships
  4. Create Pattern Interrupts
  5. Induce Positive Confusion (one reason why)
While some activities are repeated from conference to conference, others come from brainstorming sessions with the participants.

At a recent conference in New York, the associates (a.k.a. people/companies who pay money to attend with the intent of selling their product) were complaining to the conference organizer about the lack of conference attendees participating in the exhibit halls and showcases. As the grumbles of agreement erupted from the crowd, the conference organizer turned towards us and asked if we could send out a Flashmob txt about exhibit hall times and showcase times. Our reply? "No, that's not how it works."

It's not about making them HAVE to do it, it's about making them WANT to do it.

If we were to do what the conference organizer suggested, the Flashmob txt would have been something like this:
TXT A: @ 2:30pm the exhibit hall opens up, make sure you're there!
Instead our txt message was this:
TXT B: In the exhibit hall @ exactly 2:35pm howl to the moon for 10 secs like a pack of wolves. Then stop and walk on like nothing happened.
In TXT B we're making them WANT to do it, like they are missing out if they don't attend. TXT B achieves all five goals from above and, for the purposes of the conference, it also gets more attendees to participate in the exhibit hall.

TXT B also removes the marketing from the activity, which is a common mistake when attempting community engagement. If you're marketing, you're marketing, not relationship building.

The difference between them HAVING to do it and them WANTING to do it is the difference between apathy and engagement.

'Fun' can be the change behavior. If you're still not convinced, check out these ideas from The Fun Theory:

To implement change on your campus, start by creating an "I Wish List..."
  • I wish more students would recycle
  • I wish more students would walk to campus vs drive
  • I wish more students would attend events
  • I wish more students would smile
  • I wish more students would wash their hands
  • I wish more students would...
Next create a list of current solutions for each item:
  • Post signs above recycle bins
  • Don't do anything
  • Flyers, posters, emails
  • Don't do anything
  • Post signs in every bathroom
Lastly, circle up with 2-4 other people and generate a brainstorming list of creative engaging ways to solve each problem that they will WANT to do. Then try it out and if you really want, you can collect quantitative data to determine effectiveness (e.g. Did more people wash their hands?).

It will take more time to implement some of these ideas, but, to repeat from above, it's the difference between apathy and engagement.

p.s. If your idea is really good, try submitting it to the Fun Theory Award for a chance to win $3,600.


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