Would you discourage people from traveling to the location of your event to network without paying for registration? The SXSW Badgeless Movement was created by just such non-attendees. The following article by Michelle Bruno talks about the opportunities this trend may present for event organizers. It is reposted with her permission here.
Chris Heuer of the Social Media Club and a member of the SXSW Badgeless movement closed our recent Twitter conversation about attendees that attend, but don’t pay at SXSW with the following comment:
@michellebruno make it easier for the related communities the event serves to participate, maybe #EPI not #API, Event Programming Interface
Heuer’s tweet made me think about the parallels between organizations in the live event industry and device manufacturers (among others) that use application programming interfaces (API) to grow a community of users—one that can be monetized.
In simple terms, an API is the gateway, tools and implicit permission that hardware manufacturers make available to enable third-party application developers to create products and services around its products. Think about the Apple iPhone and all of the independent companies that develop apps for it. More applications = more reasons for people to own iPhones.
The concept of an API isn’t limited to hardware manufacturers. Oren Michels of API management firm, Mashery, told Mashable that, “Ultimately, the API is a means for growing your business — and I use the term ‘business’ to include whatever your mission is, be it traffic or commerce or a nonprofit improving the world or a government entity serving its constituents — faster and larger by virtue of engaging with others. Understand how and why your API can do that and you will be successful. ”
If what Michels says is true, live event organizers (nonprofit associations and for-profit companies) have to re-think their mission and their modus operandi. In my Twitter exchange with Chris Heuer, we discussed the need for SXSW organizers to find ways to include even the non-paying attendees, especially those like Heuer who have contributed to the wellbeing of the festival by blogging and paying in the past and are legitimate members of the broader interactive community that SXSW aims to serve. If SXSW’s mission is reach and retain a larger community, they will have to develop some type of outreach—not unlike an API—to accomplish that goal.
To read the rest of “A Super Nerdy Way of to Think About Growing an Event Community” click here.
(Photo by Magic Madzik)