How a Coffee Event Attracts More People & You Can Too

Some of the most masterful baristas in the U.S. gathered in a hotel lobby in Minneapolis for their annual competition last month, judged by their peers.

But this year was different. More excitement.And pressure. Coffee growers, café owners and other baristas and coffee lovers from around the world can watch them perform. In real time and later. (Congrats Kyle Glansville!) Observers can share comments or photos.

Consider this story a free, mini-seminar: How to involve more people and sponsors in your event. Be the first person in your kind of industry or profession to adapt this approach for your gathering. Your "first ever" might attract media coverage too. Here’s what happened.Rich, a tradeshow blogger and a judge at this coffee contest, describes what the fresh twist on the traditonal barista contest. The Specialty Coffee Association live video blogged the competition, with a real-time chat screen.

"This was the first time either was attempted at this event (last year’s even had some time delayed video, but no interaction). The live video/chat enabled family, friends, colleagues, fellow baristas and coffee growers whose beans were being represented from around the globe as well as curious folks like me to witness the competition with close up camera work while engaging in ongoing conversation as it was happening.

In many ways watching the competition remotely was preferable to taking a seat in the bleachers and watching in person (very little talking inside (kinda rude to do so), poor sight lines, hard to see the details that mattered for scoring).

There was also a conference blog that included video interviews from the show floor, some session reviews and even some light entertainment." Plus they created a captivating flickr photostream. (Sidebar, if "even" a local coffee shop in Atlanta can attract national coverage for their contest, perhaps you can too?)

As Jemima Kiss notes, live blogging by attendees is now so powerful that some are resisting what they may view as their loss of control. Like Jemima, I feel the participants can’t be stopped - and that is great. Increasingly more people will discover fresh ways to collaborate at conferences and other events. Perhaps The End of Control signals the strength of a more inclusive way of gathering, made possible our new media tools.

Want to Attract More Fans to Your Event?

Do you operate a street fair, game, lecture series, in-person contest or a product demo center at a trade show? In fact are you part of any kind of event that you’d like to grow?

Then would you like:
• To attract an even more people to it?

• Let people watch in real time and any time, anywhere later on?

• Enable more bystanders to see what’s going on?

• Build an ongoing community around your recurring gathering?

• Attract sponsors to cover the cost of the event?

• Get watchers involved in:
- Rooting for and voting for their favorites?
- Inspired to seek permission to participate in the event next time?
- Offering advice for improving the happening next year?

• Build an ongoing record of your events to use in:
- future events
- audio, text and/or or video "how-to" guides
- promotions to attract future audiences, sponsors or members?

You can accomplish all of the above, if not the first time then over time, by finding fans of your kind of gathering who have social media know-how. That’s what the folks at the Specialty Coffee Association discovered. In so doing the social media geeks got a greater taste of coffee knowledge and the coffee experts got a big gulp of blogging and vlogging expertise. That’s a Me2We collaboration to accomplish more (and have more fun) together than apart.

Here’s BBC producer, Robin Hamman’s "10 tips for live blogging a conference or event." Lee Odden and Sarah Perez offer more suggestions. For covering any event, Anne Helmond helps you choose, "between Twitter, live blogging or fast publishing. " Get your comprehensive social media "how-to" kit, compliments of Chris Brogan. Robin Good is another generous, reliable "how-to" guide for such tools, including for video publishing.

Many groups could make their event more involving, exciting and valuable. That includes gatherings as diverse as top chefs’ demonstrations, high schoolers’ robotic contests and dog groomers’ workshops.

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