Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How did you hear about THIS (Barcamp Ghana) event?

One of my favorite things to do at Barcamps and in fact, events in general that I attend or have a vested interest in, is how they heard about a particular event. As someone who is part of a team that organizes many events via the +GhanaThink Foundation, I want to know what's effective and efficient across every thing we do. Working hard is good, working smart is better.

At +Barcamp Tamale 2014, we asked a similar question. How many people heard about this event from Facebook? A good number of people raised their hand. "How many of you heard about this event from Twitter?" A smaller umber but still respectable number of people had their hands up. One of the participants shouted "Whatsapp". It is allowed. So we asked accordingly. A surprisingly good number of hands went up. Much fewer hands went up when we asked about radio. Even fewer for email or from a website. A good number of attendees heard about the event from their friends - for me, the most important and trusted source. TV? There are a lot of good things to gain from having the event promoted on TV, but not at the expense of the cost. No, thank you.

The Whatsapp bit is very intriguing. Since early 2013, Whatsapp has been the medium for organizing our +Barcamp Ghana events. Physical meetings have reduced to the barest minimum and things are still getting done. Similarly, we decided to create normal and colorful Whatsapp messages with which to market the Barcamps and get people to register and come. They are not the kinds of memes that spread like wildfire on Whatsapp but they move and are essentially effective. We expect to do the same for more Barcamps within the +Barcamp Ghana program to come.

Every year for Barcamp Tamale, the organizing team debates about marketing the Barcamp on radio. I am not a fan of paying the money for LPMs and interviews to promote an event. It's not shown the relevant results. So we always try to get these as part of a media partnership. There is ownership in this. We have had Barcamps with over 300 people in attendance without the benefit of traditional media. It is happening in Accra today, but it will also happen in Tamale soon.

You might be wondering why the focus on social media when a small percentage of Ghanaians are on it? Guess what - the most influential, innovative and inspirational young people in Ghana are on it. It's the best place to grow something that will be rooted and will last. We are building a network of young changemakers, doers and entrepreneurs in Ghana. It's important that it grows organically and from a point out. It must be driven by media that is social, sources that are familiar and people that are trusted. It is slow, but effective. It is small, but social. It is about publicity, but also who and where you heard it from. +Barcamp Cape Coast is this weekend. I'd be asking the same question. Stay tuned.
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