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« Dance Floor Theory Ed Session at APCA Orlando | Main | Small School? Small Budget? Small Problem!! »

July 18, 2007

The 'how' and 'why' of FREE HUGS

The Free Hugs Campaign gained international fame in 2006 when an australian man, Juan Mann, created a video and posted it on Youtube. The video has over 16 millions hits and has sparked an annual international Free Hugs Day.

We picked up on the activity as a nice compliment to our Dance Floor Theory Leadership Training and helped spread the idea to the college market. To better understand the link, think about it in terms of a dance floor:

 

- If you go to a dance where no one knows each other, the DJ could put on the hottest song and chances are very few people will dance.

 

- On the other hand, if you go to a dance where every knows each other and are friends, the DJ could put on The Barney Song and chances are people will have a fun time dancing.

- The difference between the two dance floors isn't the amount of marketing, or one has better music, or one has better lights etc. The difference is one has a network of relationships and the other doesn't.

- If you are having trouble getting people to come to your events, think about your campus in terms of a dance floor. How many networks do your student leaders link to? Does your campus look like this?

- More importantly, how can you get it to look like this?

- This is where FREE HUGS comes in.

- The goal is to increase the number of relationships on your campus. Blender Events are designed to engage the apathetic students in a non threating way and gradually, over time, increase their engagement to the campus community. FREE HUGS is one of thousands of examples of Blender Events.

- It doesn't matter what the event is as long as you have enough people with enough relationships.

- If you want to create your own Blender Event keep these 4 things in mind. 1) The apathetic students won't come to you, so you have to bring the event to them. 2) I can punch someone and get a reaction, but that is not the reaction I want. Focus on how you can get a positive reaction. 3) Blender Events won't replace your other campus entertainment such as a comedian or a musician, instead use Blender Events between each major entertainment as a way to connect the dots. 4) Most importantly, you don't have to spend a lot of money. Often the organic, home grown events are the best ones.

- Hosting a FREE HUGS day on your campus is a great way to try a Blender Event out and see how much fun and effective it can be. To get you started, you can download our original 8.5 x 11 FREE HUGS sign to print and use. All I ask is you email us to share your pictures, stories and videos.

1000s of students have hosted a FREE HUGS Blender Event on their campus. Here are some of the results posted on Facebook. I especially like the first one as it was the deciding factor for a new student to pick that school.

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