How do I feel about the Coachella wristband Facebook check-ins? About as disappointed as a kid with an empty stocking on Christmas. As a both a music and social media junkie, I felt as though I was promised a sparkling, majestic gift that arrived torn up, half-used, and dirtier than I was on the last day of the festival. The execution of this brilliant idea was incomplete and off-beat.
Here’s why I’m dissatisfied with the integration of this billion-dollar internet company and my favorite desert music festival:
1. The fact that you could register your wristband and then scan it to “check in” on Facebook at various points throughout the festival was barely publicized both before and during the festival.
Had I not scoured the website specifically looking for any insight into how the festival was aligning itself with social media, I would never have found the tiny section on wristbands and the small footnote that explained how/why to register them. Over half of my friends never registered their wristbands. Of the ones that did, just one other besides myself used them to check in. This occurred mainly because no one knew the location of the check-in stations within the festival. It’s hard to find a six-inch by six-inch Facebook icon on a piece of cardboard that is erected far below eyesight in a convoluted sea of 80,000 people. Additional identification of these points (even on a map!) was more than necessary. Come on, Coachella. Not only are these Facebook check-in stations fantastic publicity, but they’re also a means by which to remain a cutting-edge event that is on the forefront of the new and now in the technology realm.
2. What appeared on your Facebook after scanning your wristband was unnecessary and (for lack of a better term) stupid.
Had I known what scanning my wristband would do to my Facebook, I never would have done it. Did I want to lightly brag to all of my friends at home about what I was doing and who I was seeing? Yes. Did I want to check in to Coachella? Yes. Did I want the check in to post more than “at the [Insert tent/stage here] w/ [Insert band name here],” followed by a link to the Coachella Facebook?! YES. YES. YES. This “check-in” was not a check-in at all! It was a status update, one with poor grammar to boot. Someone who has never been to Coachella before is not going to know what the Gobi Tent is. Someone who is not privy to up-and-coming indie music isn’t going to know about the band WU LYF either. To anyone unfamiliar with both, these status updates [read: NOT check-ins] look like a bunch of gibberish. And I never intended to direct any of my Facebook friends to the Coachella Facebook page. I barely directed myself to the Coachella Facebook page. As a friend of mine put it, once he’d seen how he’d littered his timeline, “I thought there would be a prize or something. Turns out i was just running free advertising for Coachella. I feel used and violated.” These awkward “check-ins” only made me devalue the service.
3. There’s such potential in what could have been.
The biggest upset of the entire ordeal is the potential that it had to be absolutely amazing. If the check-ins were actual check-ins that would have been one thing. If they linked those who checked in at a particular stage with the live stream of the performance on YouTube, well, that would’ve been another. What’s better than bragging about being at a stage seeing a hologram of Tupac? Doing so with a picture via Twitter (we should have been able to register wristbands to Twitter feeds too!). These check-ins could have also generated a picture of the performance that could’ve been posted to the festival-goers’ Facebook wall. Additionally, the option to later go back and tag those who were with you in the check-in/status update would have been nice. No one likes to look as though they are checking into all of these places alone.
I’m more than enthusiastic about the integration of social media into new and innovative realms. This endeavor, however, fell flat rather quickly. It’s time for another festival to do it better. Outside Lands, where you at?