The Ponga Share Invite and the RSVP (Respond Straight Via Ponga)





I asked my two granddaughters if they knew what RSVP meant. Cocked heads and blank looks are what I received.


“It’s what’s at the end of an invitation?” Is all they said. No idea what it meant or what it was asking. I sorted them out.


It can be challenging for anyone organizing any kind of event when invitees don’t RSVP. But maybe they’re like my granddaughters, no idea what it means. How are you supposed to know how much food, wine and chairs you need? It’s a dilemma. Pretty devastating if no one shows up!


My own experience with internet invitations


I recently encouraged followers to my social media account, to request an @victoriaspress invite to my personal Ponga created family album. This particular album is something of a masterpiece for me. It’s the Pongaporting benchmark for what can be done with a hard cover family album.


I gratefully received several requests and sent out the invites. The results were interesting. No one has followed through, accepted the invitation. They didn’t provide an RSVP. Come to think of it, I didn’t specifically ask for an RSVP. I’ve fixed that.


I waited a week and then followed up with a more detailed email that outlines what they should expect to happen, what it all looks like, and to perhaps check their spam folder for the missing invite. Which in hindsight should have been my best practice in the first instance. I now send a more detailed auto response thank you email to everyone who requests an invite.


Here’s what actually works


I decided to send a pre-emptive email, before the official share invite, to 25 family members via my own personal email address, CC’ing everyone in on the email. This is family after all. Let’s keep it like a reunion, a family reunion.



The author and a cat
Taken at my grandmother's farm outside Hamilton Ontario in 1964

I thought this was the best option, opposed to a random email from a platform they were not familiar with. That was surely going to be interpreted as spam and ignored. Some of these people I’d not seen in 40 years! I looked a bit different back then. And some cousins I had never met.


I truly went for it in that email and pulled at a few memory heartstrings and I’m thrilled to say that 24 hours later I have 4 people activate their shared albums. That’s a 16% take up of the invitation. And so far, two of those have left some fabulous comments within Ponga… the Ponga version of the RSVP… “Respond Straight Via Ponga”.


The tricks to getting guests to RSVP


There was an initial (it was just one time) tendency to respond directly to me by return email with comments about some of the photos in the family album. Perhaps because this very enthusiastic cousin was apprehensive, maybe they thought they’d inadvertently break something within the album or maybe hadn’t yet discovered how to leave a comment.


Whatever the reason, once I responded to them and said, “fear not, get in there and RSVP”, they were off… and I’ve updated my pre-Ponga share invite email to reflect that.

My cousin Wendy’s reaction was pure magic


I can’t wait to look this album over, thank you so much for sharing it with me — I love history and family trees but have never really done anything much with that passion. I can already tell that this was a total labour of love for you! I have to say — the Ponga notes/links that’s I’ve seen so far look like so much fun — with lots to learn too!! Thank you thank you thank you!


I always was in awe of your mom and loved her so much. She was smart and beautiful and I loved that she was so much like her brothers but in a feminine way — they all had a similar voice I thought? They were all very much siblings and her voice being female always made me happy. I guess that’s why I’m so thrilled that you followed the women in your family history. I loved your dad as well, he was tall and somewhat scary even though he never did anything to scare anyone that I ever saw, he just was very much a formidable presence I guess. A good thing because I think your mom was one herself. Seeing all these pictures of your dad when he was young — my god he was handsome wasn’t he? And your mom was beautiful!


Thank you again Vicki for sharing all this work you’ve done, and the fact that we’ve reconnected — well that’s a pretty special bonus to me.


Steps for best results with invitations


So, from here on in, family member invites or complete stranger share invites, I will do the following:

  • To a Family member: Pre-emptive email from my personal email address to let them know in advance that I am going to share a photo or album… example:

With Ponga I was able to transfer (what I like to call Pongaport) the entire hard covered book into a new online private sharable format. It's so good. And I am sharing it with all of you. This is a first of two emails. Sorry… the next one is shorter!

 

 Please watch for an email directly from Ponga with an activation link.

 

That email is directly from "invitations@ponga.com" (making it easy to search for, should it be redirected to your spam folder.)

 

 Because you most likely don't yet have a Ponga account, when you receive your first invitation, you'll be prompted to authenticate your guest account with your email address and add a password. This is a free guest account.

The process is similar to the security on wedding sites, for example. This protects both you and I as this is not social media or a newsletter subscription. This is an invitation to my personal album.

 

Once the "paperwork" is ticked, then you can access your Ponga free guest account with your email and password and head to "shared with me" folder to get a look at the Brindle Longworth Helme Family Album.

I am so excited to share this with all of you… and am looking forward to your comments and added stories to appear alongside my photos and documents.

 

One other thing, if you know of another family member who would enjoy this little piece of family history, send me their email address and I will share the same albums with them. You cannot share my album, as you are my guest.

 

If you'd like to see two others that I have developed, let me know and I'll add them to your shared with me folder.

Or, if you simply aren't at all interested, I'll remove you from the sharing process. Just let me know.


Subject of the email: Thank you for requesting an invite. Now it’s RSVP Time.


Thank you so much for reaching out and requesting a personal invite to my family ancestry album created with Ponga. Please watch for an email directly from Ponga with an activation link. That email is directly from “invitations@ponga.com” (making it easy to search for, should it be redirected to your spam folder.) Because you most likely don’t yet have a Ponga account, when you receive your first invitation, you’ll be prompted to authenticate your guest account with your email address and add a password. This is a free guest account.

The process is similar to the security on wedding sites, for example. This protects both you and I as this is not social media or a newsletter subscription. This is an invitation to my personal album. Once the “paperwork” is ticked, and you’ve RSVPed by activating then you can access your Ponga free guest account with your email and password and head to “shared with me” folder to get a look at the BLH Family Album.

I am so excited to share this with you… and am looking forward to your comments to appear alongside my photos and documents.


Share with everyone in a live family history commentary


It’s not much more complicated than that. Head them off at the pass, meaning… think of anything that might stop your guests from giving you an RSVP and activating their own guest account and include it in that Ponga pre-emptive email.


I’m not at all concerned about family members emailing me directly with comments, it’s natural for them to do that. If they do, I can take that opportunity to gently guide them back to the Ponga albums to Respond Straight Via Ponga. To be part of the growing family storytelling community, and share with everyone in a live family history commentary.


Since my “request for invitation” guests don’t know me personally, they may reach out to me via www.victoriaspress.com. But somehow, I doubt it. I’m waiting to see if that may happen.