Social media reveals online crowds

No one likes standing in line for things, but here’s a funny thought process I went through at the Calgary Stampede this past summer while walking through the food truck area and happening upon a disproportionately large queue.

“Wow that’s a long line-up for (I forget what it was… I think it had seaweed on it)”
“I’d hate to be standing in that line-up.”
(Walking a few paces–eyeing the food truck menu).
“Must be good though!”
“I think I’ll try it.”

And so I got in line.

It’s funny how something as off-putting as a line-up can actually draw people in. In fact, I’ve often wondered if restaurants use this to their advantage–any time I’ve visited the Chill Winston, a cool pub in Vancouver’s Gas Town, I’ve always waited outside in a crowd beside a hostess whose exchange rate on actual wait time versus estimated wait time is at least 4 to 1. The resulting crowd ends up being very effective marketing, intentional or not.

I think it makes for an interesting illustration when it comes to the web. You can’t really ‘see’ all of the other people who have used the website you’re surfing–until we add social media. Page discussion, social tags displaying how many people have shared it–these reveal online crowds. I think the principle of increased traffic proportional to increased interest holds true here. Best of all, no one has to wait in any lineups!


License to Grouch!

This summer Evansburg, Alberta, hit the news headlines, not only locally, but nationally as well. This town of 880 people west of Edmonton has been holding elections for Town Grouch since the 70’s but this year they hit the big time.

This contest struck interest in the entire country with its uniqueness. Most towns elect a Strawberry Queen, or an Apple Princess, to celebrate their summer festival not a grouching, mop topped miner!

The winner of this esteemed crown is given license to grouch as they see fit, without fear of reprisal or recrimination, through the entire year. To become Town Grouch the candidates must raise money by pestering everyone in town demanding donations. The one to raise the most money wins the crown (miners costume) and bragging (grouching!) rights for a year. Armed with a pickaxe, coveralls, a miner’s hat and a curly orange wig it’s hard to miss this “grouch”!

With an address of “10 Frowning St” and a town park bench to grouch on, this icon has been a hit in Evansburg since 1979. And now that the idea has been shared with the rest of Canada, I think some people may be thinking of moving to Evansburg so they can compete to have the right to grumble and grouch with respect!