When I worked at the University of Montana I ran a promotion on Facebook where I asked our fans to guess a number that one of our student-athletes secretly chose between 1 and 10,000. They had two hours to respond and there was an incentive for guessing the correct number. In theory the idea seemed like a great way to generate engagement but when I saw that we had 100+ responses within five minutes I wondered if maybe I bit off a little more than I could chew, especially with a page boasting well over 100,000 likes. When the deadline passed and we had roughly 1,000 guesses I felt a little overwhelmed. Going through and checking so many responses over Facebook is neither fun nor easy.
I can say that experience was really the only time I have felt overwhelmed with social media. Even when I was running twenty different accounts with numerous things to post on each one I never felt like I couldn’t keep up. Well today I got a faint reminder of what I felt that day I ran the student-athlete number guessing promotion.
Chanticleer Athletics and University Communication got together at Coastal Carolina University to design a sweet social media promotion. To put faces to it all you had Marketing Director Kevin Olivett and his assistant John Fernandez from athletics and from University Communication you had yours truly. The three of us met and came up with the “CCUSA: Fifty States, Fifty Flags” (think CCU + USA) campaign. We would send a CCU flag to one person in each state. He/she would then have to take a photo with that flag in a place that showcased his/her state. The photos would then be sent back to us for our use on social media. We ran with it. Kevin and John provided all the physical materials for the campaign (poster tubes and flags) while I designed the website, coordinated the design of other creative materials, and launched the campaign. It was also agreed that I would facilitate the campaign by serving as the point person for folks interested in participating.
At 1:30 p.m. today I sent out the first posts announcing the CCUSA campaign on Facebook and Twitter. A student worker and I then went to quickly cover a Cold Water Challenge attempt. The water dumping took ten minutes tops and as we made our way back to the office I looked at my phone and saw that I had 17 new e-mails. When I said I was facilitating the campaign I meant to explain that our audience would be e-mailing me to say they wanted to participate in CCUSA. I ferociously started to respond to all e-mails. However, it seemed as if for every one I responded to I got two or three more. Fifty minutes into the campaign and I had already received 63 e-mails. When an hour and a half had passed I reached the triple digit mark.
You see, on something like this you must respond immediately both to make sure the promotion stays organized and to show your audience excellent customer service. I zoomed through the e-mails as quickly as possible, either letting the person know that I would be sending them a flag by the end of the week or that their state already had a representative. Duplicates from states such as South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania came in like crazy. But also inquiries from far off states such as Nevada, New Mexico, California, and my home state of Washington came in as well making my task a lot of fun. While responding to all this correspondence I was also simultaneously updating our CCUSA webpage, making sure that a state was marked off when claimed.
While the volume of e-mails did go down just a tad it has been a steady stream since. Throughout the last couple hours of the day I went back and forth between video editing, social media directory building, and responding to CCUSA inquiries. When I left work I made sure every single e-mail was responded to. When I arrived home after my commute I had ten new e-mails related to CCUSA. As I sit here right now I am responding to flag requests every couple minutes. It seems as if they won’t stop.
Although eventually they will. I might have felt a little overwhelmed at times today but pretty soon the onslaught of e-mails will die down. In just less than seven hours we have 34 states plus the District of Columbia claimed. When the remaining 16 states find a representative I will make it very clear to our audience that the campaign is completely full. As of right now I have received by my best count 200 e-mails. I have responded to each one. I estimate that I will receive 100 more before we have the whole map completely closed up.
Shipping each one of these flags out will be a long process. I am a one man show so getting the tubes stuffed with a flag, a letter detailing the instructions, and a couple goodies will drain some of my time. But who cares? This campaign is going to yield some of the best user generated content ever. In an unrelated closing note, one of the 16 states still up for grabs is Montana. To all my devoted readers in my former state…who wants a Chanticleer flag?! Hurry up and text me already! Don’t Blink.