Over the weekend, Cincinnati Social Media held a photowalk within downtown Cincinnati. We had amazing weather for it and, in two hours, I took 120 pics and walked a little over a mile with more than a dozen #cincysm members and Instagram fans.

While I’ve planned a ton of events over the years, every one is different and you can still learn something new each time. So here are five things I learned on the #cincysm #instameet.

1) Cameras Are Not Required: While I was inspired to organize this event by Instagram, it didn’t matter if you had the app, or an iPhone — all forms of capture were welcome. Others had Androids or their SLRs in hand. But a high point of the day was when I realized two children were using their Nintendo DS’ to take pictures. The kids were accompanying their parents on the walk. 

2) Back Stories Make Big Stories: It was great to meet some folks for the first time that day as well as others I’d known online, but had not met in person. One attendee had not been downtown for about five years. So it was great to get his perspective on how much the city has changed and improved. Everyone seemed to contribute a lesser known fact about buildings as we walked. This gave a great back story to the pictures we took and we got to know each other better in the process.

3) New Perspectives Will Find You: I’ve spent a lot of time downtown over the years and knew the path we took has plenty of photo opportunities. But there were still certain spaces, perspectives and details I saw for the first time. Photowalks are great when you’re out of town, but they can also reconnect you with a space so familiar that you don’t pay attention to it.

4) Promotion Before Makes For Difficult Follow-Up After: Events are shared  and overshared via social media. This one made it to LinkedIn (which serves as CincySM’s web page), Facebook (not everyone targeted were CincySM members), on Instagram and all of these pushed to a MeetUp site to keep it organized. This is fine — even without the context. But it makes it tough to track everyone down post-event. All 12 attendees have different online preferences and a different point of reference for the event online. In addition to Flickr and Instagram, we’re using DropEvent for a spot to aggregate images (h/t Christiaan). But even if everyone agrees to a single hashtag and rallying point post-event, you still find yourself repopulating the same sites you used to promote the event with this update.

5)  Organizing For Flexibility Is Critical: With a lot of events — from weddings to conferences — your attendance can change at the last minute. So I had multiple routes in mind in case we needed to split up into smaller groups. And as we walked our route, we tried to tweet/instagram a few pics so folks could catch up to us. This worked out well. But for the next photowalk, I’ll also designate a single way for late comers to communicate with us so they can catch up more easily during the event.

The event was great and it was a blast taking a ton of pictures with Cawood, FranToh, Stuku56, Castlepoint, JustThinkChris, TorenCastle, GlennaVonHenna, Kathy Jo love blue, Tattooprincess and Pezhunter. Stay tuned for the next one. We’ll definitely be doing more.

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