A version of this post was originally published in 2009.
I love Halloween. Always have and probably always will, even though the Tylenol scares of the eighties and ensuing madness have pretty much stripped the holiday of much of it’s fun. Today we celebrate Halloween between certain hours, and on certain days (in Lancaster we celebrated the night before Halloween this year, while Harrisburg had trick or treating TWO nights before). In some towns, kids don’t even go door to door anymore. They go to a community center in order to have a “safe” and sanitized celebration.
Cue old guy music
Back in the day, when I was a kid, Halloween was something special. We took days figuring out our costumes, and headed out in groups with our grocery bags, knowing we’d be bringing back a haul. We would start the moment it began to even remotely look like the sun was going down, and would stay out until we couldn’t walk anymore. We hit a rather large geographic area and came back with a lot. Over time we learned which people gave out the best candy, and which gave out the undesired items (read: healthy) like raisins, apples, or popcorn. Then we’d head home, dump our stash on the floor, and my brothers and I would sort…and trade, and stuff our faces.
But the real beauty of Halloween, and why I’m blogging about it, is that it is the one time of the year that we actually invite our neighbors over. It is perfectly acceptable for our community to come to us, walk up on to our porches, and sometimes even let them in our homes. Even if we don’t know them!
Think about your online communities. We need to make it easier for people interested in us (our company/product/organization) to find us.
On Halloween we send out certain signals that let people know to come to our house for candy. There are certain levels of invitation:
Level 1 – No lights on. This is the equivalent of putting out a big sign that says “DON’T EVEN BOTHER KNOCKING.” No one will come. In fact, you might even get soaped or egged or TP’ed. We never liked those people…
Level 2 - Lights on. In the words of Tom Bodett and Motel 6, “We’ll leave the lights on for ya!” If you leave your front light on, we all know that it’s safe to ring the doorbell. No bells and whistles, just a simple inviting gesture that let’s us know you have candy.
Level 3 – Simple decorations. A well-placed jack-o-lantern and perhaps some ghosts on the bushes. It let’s us know you’re in the holiday spirit and you know how to have fun. Again, very inviting.
Level 4 – Haunted House mode. Every neighborhood has one. The people who decorate as if they are Disney World. Lights. Spooky music and sound. And the dead guy in the chair you aren’t really sure about: is it a dummy or a real guy who’s gonna scare you? Might even be a few houses that compete for the title of scariest decorations. We loved these houses, and it sure added to the fun.
Level 5 – A reputation for giving out a lot of cool candy. This one trumps all the previous levels, regardless of how many decorations they have. But over time, you learn which houses are going to help you fill your bag faster with the best candy. In fact, word might get around the neighborhood: “Head over to so and so’s house…they’ve got the best stuff.” Of course the inverse is when the kid grapevine also spreads word on which houses to avoid.
The moral of the story?
How inviting is your online community? Are you leaving the light on? Are you the cool house in the neighborhood? Are the kids beating a path to your door because of your reputation? Or, is the word out that you’re giving out little boxes of raisins that no one really wants?
Think about it.
- Merry Christmas! (in September?) (inklingmedia.net)
- Things You Can Be On Halloween Besides Naked (v3im.com)
- With Social Media, Everyone Must Be On Board (inklingmedia.net)
- Getting Executives on Board with Social Media (inklingmedia.net)