Back in November 2009, I launched a book marketing venture that rapidly spawned a sold-out live event in NYC—Tribal Author Camp.
I did it because I love teaching, especially when I get to combine my jones for writing and experience as an author with marketing and social media. A big chunk of the event was focused on leveraging social media to build an author platform, then create a 3-stage launch campaign.
Which is why I got some raised eyebrows when my new book marketing mini-tribe turned to the first page of the manual to discover the following policy
No live tweeting, Facebooking or blogging – BE HERE NOW! You can tweet, email and Facebook your ass off during the breaks! And, no recording devices, cell phones or pagers. Cow bells…absolutely. We can never have enough cow bell!
Why would I ban social media and smart phones during an event that’s all about marketing with those very tools?
Doesn’t that just hurt me? I mean, I lose all that precious twitter hashtag back-channel buzz, I forgo the participants’ followers wishing they were there and passing along a stunningly abundance stream of quotes to the huddled authorial tweet-loving masses.
What on Earth would make me give up the marketing and PR benefit of a room full of people live-tweeting the event?
Was it that I’m just a control freak?
Nope, that wasn’t it. Well, actually, I AM a control freak, but that wasn’t behind the ban.
Was it that I didn’t want my precious genius (read “inane rambling”) leaking out to the unpaid masses?
Nope, that wasn’t it, either.
Then what? What would drive me to make such a rash, horrifically unjustifiable policy?
As Curly said in City Slickers…”One Thing.”
I wanted everyone in the room to actually BE THERE.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to conferences or events where people are cycling mercilessly between tweeting every other line, taking notes and, can you believe, checking email. Then, they walk out of an event, you ask what it was about and the closest they can come is “I don’t know, but I tweeted the hell out of the best lines!”
The reason I instituted a social media ban during my Tribal Author Camp event and gave up the potentially substantial opportunity for twitter hashtag fame was because it was far more important that I be able to give everyone in the room exactly what I promised. And, to do that, I had to create an environment that ensured minimum distraction, minimal task-switching and maximum engagement.
Because, if you’re genuinely THERE, if you’re engaged during the event, things sink in on a whole different level, questions arise at the time I am there to answer them and relationships are formed by listening, truly listening not just to me, but to everyone else who participates.
And now, the big question…did the twitter ban hold?
Pretty much. At one point, one participant came to me to share his guilt over tweeting something I said that, as he put it, just had to be shared. And, I did notice a bit of tweeting during the breaks. But, for the most part, the ban stood the test of ADD time. In the end, the result was an amazingly coherent, deeply engaged tribe who left, I hope, with not only great information and relationships, but a renewed sense of the need to occasionally disconnect, tune out…and drop in.
Now, I’m curious…
Have you ever suffered such indignity?
Had to endure an event without the refuge of twitter?
What do you think of my ban? I’m all ears…
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