It was a sad situation, knowing that the group spent thousands of dollars and no one showed up to the event.
I was working with a university in Georgia that was hosting an outdoor adventure day for their campus. Ironically, it was raining that day, so they had to move the adventure indoors. The entire fieldhouse was filled with vendors hosting various activities, from rock climbing to ring toss.
I walked around the event for about 20 minutes before I had to prep for my program to see what it was all about. There were over 50 different activities for students to participate in. However, for the time I spent walking around the area, I only saw roughly 20 students participating. And of that 20 students, five were wearing volunteer shirts. I wish I could tell you that this kind of dynamic is unusual across the country; however, I see it happen far too often.
When it comes to programming, campus leaders think that spending money to bring in a bunch of vendors to create a big event will finally get their disengaged students to participate. The reality is – it never works. The activities you use to engage your most engaged users will not work to engage your least engaged users.
In Dance Floor Theory, we call our most engaged users 5s, and our least engaged users neutrals.
Engaging Your Neutrals With Blender Events
Blender events are low-cost, low set-up time activities that you bring to high-traffic areas within your community. The neutrals within your community will never show up to your event, so you have to bring the event to them. The event should also have a very low barrier to participation.
Examples of blender events might include the Free Hugs campaign, hot cocoa on a cold day, a golden ticket for premier parking spaces, or even Post-it note affirmations placed on mirrors.
While the majority of your community is neutrals, you cannot forget about your most engaged users because they are your current and future leaders. So, continue to do your big events, such as an outdoor adventure day, but fill the space in between with as many blender events as possible. This kind of event calendar will ensure you are engaging everyone in your community as well as helping to nudge the neutrals to become more engaged.