Last weekend I attended a wedding and rather than getting lost in the radiant joy of new love, I began wondering how this age-old tradition could be evolved by social media. These thoughts stayed with me long after catchy melodies of the macarena, Bee Gees, and Dexys Midnight Runners had faded. Therefore I knew these concepts were worthy of formal exploration (certainly a troubling litmus test). So let’s discuss…
I noticed, during this grandest of traditions, that weddings – for all their detailed planning and coordination – are wildly organic and rapidly evolving events. Subject to the moods and emotions of the participants, weddings truly shift and morph within the context of its own social ecosystem. Therefore, the nature of weddings is a perfect match to the dynamic medium of social media.
To explore a little further, we can use Twitter to apply some real-world examples of how we could, and possibly should, be introducing social media into a traditional event like weddings.
Currently we use micro-blogging to provide real-time feedback, perceptions, and threaded dialog in a number of professional situations. For example, Twitter is widely used to comment on keynote presentations at conferences, the direction and content of webinars, live television programs, and other events. I think we could take the same concept and apply it to other, more traditional, social events.
Back to this weekend.
The wedding ceremony and cocktail hour were executed perfectly; guests were happy and spirits were high. At the reception, however, a misinformed DJ began to repeatedly clear the dance floor with mix of music that was not relevant to his audience. Working feverishly behind his table, he failed to notice that while ‘Yeah’ by Usher filled the dance floor ‘Achfy Breaky Heart’ cleared the dance floor.
This cycle repeated itself for quite some time. Consequently, due to poor song choice, the reception could not gain the proper ‘party’ momentum that the couple especially wanted to create. Finally, a brave guest overcame the awkwardness of walking across an empty dance floor to get the DJ on the right path.
Enter social media.
What if the wedding guests had been instructed to use a special wedding hash (e.g. #SmithWedding) to share their experience in real-time via Twitter? The relative face-to-face anonymity of Twitter and its accessibility would have quickly provided feedback from guests…all without forcing the bride to watch a guest openly work to save the spirit of their reception.
Imagine walking into a reception site where the greeting poster not only listed seating assignments but a hash for sharing feedback and experiences. The wedding couple believes you are a valued guest; so much so that they have invited you to be an active participant in their special day! Talk about capturing the true spirit of social media!
Social media would also work well to chronicle the events of a wedding from a number of different perspectives. Not limited to just 140 characters of text alone, guests could share their images through services like Twitpic and visually document the spirit of the event. What if an out of town loved one was unable to make the trip to the wedding? Rather then wait weeks or months for pictures and stories, a person unable to attend could simply follow and even engage that twit feed to share in the joyous day.
Admittedly there are some draw backs to leveraging social media; namely the devices used to contribute/read can be an inconsiderate distraction to many guests. I am sure that many couples would not find it amusing if their guests were laying down tweets in the middle of the ceremony. Also, like any good social media strategy, we need to begin with our target audience to understand their motivations, needs, and social media aptitude. Not all wedding guests are created technically equal.
Innovative Wedding Professionals
I believe wedding vendors (planners, DJs, florists, photographers, videographers, etc.), could be monitoring wedding hashes for feedback/trends to positively shape the course of a wedding. This could be especially valuable to wedding planners/coordinators that could quickly take broad, authoritative action based on the feedback of the guests. An enterprising wedding planner might use social media as a method of differentiating their services from that of their laggard competitors. For example, the ‘new media’ wedding planner may update their services to include this micro social media campaign for their clients.
I have a number of random notes about the new, must-have wedding activity but this was a first pass. There have been a few actual recorded marriages on Twitter so I think we are ready to blaze this trail. Will you extend an invite to Twitter for your next major social event?