How can we get 10x the number of people to connect with our upcoming Summits?
September 28 - 30th is our West Coast Summit, I'm guessing we'll have about 150 people in attendance. The following weekend we're hosting both the East Coast Summit and the International Conference and my estimate is that we'll have about 100 people at those events.
Surfrider's mission is "protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches via our powerful activist network" and these summits represent THE largest opportunity we have every year to bring people together face-to-face and share best practices regarding how we're pushing our mission forward in 83 chapters in the US and 18 other countries.
The question in my mind is how can we amplify these quintessential "Surfrider" events to connect with more people?
How can we get 2,500 people connected to our mission (learning about tactical and strategic approaches shared during these meetings) instead of 250?
Three things happened this morning to make this question take on more meaning...
First, an activst in Canada asked me how she could connect with the conferences without making the trek. She knows that nothing is as good as face-to-face but the next best option should not be no interaction at all. It should be... the next best thing we can implement for those that want to connect deeper but for whatever reason can't make the trek.
Second, I read this piece about "MTV's extremely social plans for this weeks Video Music Awards." It's simple... good content can be leveraged to connect with more people if you offer multiple ways to connect with it. Think of how we watched the Olympics... multiple platform offerings, people from around the globe checking results on Twitter, etc.
Third, I remembered last years Global Wave Conference that took place in Spain. There were two, maybe three, dozen of us sitting in a vast auditorium in San Sebastian. The agenda literally reflected all major wave protection organizations on the planet. If anyone had a question regarding what was happening on the wave protection front the answer was shared at this conference. About an hour into the conference a few us us started tweeting... and the participation level doubled and then doubled again.
I have two recommendations.
If you're coming to one of these two events, bring your computer and plan on tweeting. If you want more people to come to chapter meetings or show up at local events feed them excellent content. Help them better understand the role Surfrider plays in communities around the world and then help them engage locally.
If you're not planning on coming to these events, follow people that are. My handle on twitter is @jimmoriarty. Another person to follow who will be at both conferences is our Environmental Director Chad Nelsen (@chadnelsen).
The people at these summits will be sharing great content and real stories about coastal preservation fights, find a way to leverage that content to help Surfrider's mission connect with new people. Twitter is an easy way to get at least 10x more people engaged with these summits and conferences.