John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Social media's the hot topic in business circles so I'm looking to put the hype to the test. I need you to poke me and start a World Wide Rave.
Here's the deal. Hamilton's hosting its first Timeraiser May 9 at the convention centre. A Timeraiser is part volunteer fair, part silent art auction and part night on the town for the civic-minded members of the creative class.
Since 2004, Timeraisers have run in five Canadian cities. Event organizers have bought more than $230,000 worth of art from emerging artists and helped more than 230 non-profit organizations by recruiting 3,100 Canadians to volunteer 41,000 hours.
With corporate and community sponsorship, a local planning group has bought original artwork from hometown artists and recruited 25 non-profits in need of highly skilled volunteers.
Now, the group just needs you and your friends to go online at timeraiser.ca, check out the art, buy $20 tickets and help build an even stronger community the second Saturday in May.
So here's the deal. Spread the word about the Hamilton Timeraiser through your social networks.
Tell your friends on Facebook and your colleagues on LinkedIn.
Send a tweet on Twitter.
Put up a post on your blog. Fire off an instant message.
Send out a link to this review on the Spectator's website.
And then contact me on Facebook and tell me how many people you've told.
Let's see just how fast we can sell out the event using the wonders of electronic social media.
If you want to know what's possible, read the 39 stories in David Meerman Scott's new book.
"The World Wide Rave is one of the most exciting and powerful ways to reach your audience," says Scott.
"Anyone with thoughtful ideas to share and clever ways to create interest in them can become famous and find success on the web," he says.
Scott lists six rules of the rave. Nobody cares about your product except you.
People only care about themselves and ways to solve their problems.
No coercion is required with a World Wide Rave.
When you've got something worth sharing, people will freely and enthusiastically share it on the web.
Be prepared to lose control of your messages and give your content away for free.
Put down roots and join the conversations that are already happening online.
Create triggers that encourage people to share your big ideas.
Scott's a big believer in free downloadable e-books that offer great insight and advice. And once you've got everyone's attention, point the world to your virtual doorstep.
So check out these three stories. Cindy Gordon is vice-president of New Media Marketing at Universal Orlando Resort.
The resort's launching a new Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park.
Instead of spending a fortune on advertising and PR, Gordon told just seven people.
This group of seven ran the most popular Harry Potter fan sites on the web.
So Gordon invited them to take part in a top-secret midnight webcast to announce and preview the park.
Word spread fast among fans.
Gordon also fired off an e-mail to resort guests and launched a web microsite to feed constant updates to website writers and the press.
By telling just seven people and launching a World Wide Rave, Gordon quickly got the word out to 350 million people on a shoestring budget.
So maybe Harry Potter's an easy sell.
How about 10-year-olds playing soccer?
A Swedish entrepreneur set a goal of having 400 people support a junior soccer team.
He put out an invitation on Facebook.
On game day, 1,000 fans showed up in team colours to cheer on the unsuspecting kids and parents. Someone filmed the event from the sidelines and posted it to YouTube.
"If something this seemingly unremarkable and mundane can become a World Wide Rave, certainly you've got something that can, too," says Scott.
And then there's Girls Fight Back!, a non-profit organization that teaches safety, self-defence and personal security to young women. Founder Erin Weed uses a website, a personal website she writes on, MySpace and Facebook groups and YouTube videos to reach her audience.
At the start of her seminars, Weed tells the women to put away and turn off their cellphones.
At the end of the seminars, she asks everyone to take out their phones and film their new self-defence moves.
The homemade videos then get posted on Facebook, YouTube and e-mailed everywhere.
Weed also asks the women to send her an e-mail so she can fire back a link to her website.
More than 90 per cent of the women take her up on her offer.
So if social media can spread the word about Harry Potter, Swedish kids playing soccer and a self- defence course for young women, let's see if we can start a World Wide Rave here in Hamilton and make the May 9 Timeraiser the city's hottest ticket.