Solving the Content Puzzle

Although we like to make fun of them, rich content abounds with the random “National Days of ___________” (insert whatever object, food, name, etc.). Morning radio shows, minor league baseball teams, and your favorite blogger capitalize on them all the time.

And guess what? Social media programs do too. At WSU, we have teamed up with our video team to create fun content for “holidays” such as National Area Code Day, National Twin Day, and National Hug & High Five Day.

These videos always hit the mark when it comes to creativity and timeliness but usually they are a one-and-done. We post them on the day they are observed and that is it. While that is all well and good, we wanted to take our efforts to the next level with our latest video.

Rhynne, one of our video interns, is just as good in front of the camera as she is in back of it. She lent us her acting chops and helped elevate our #NationalPuzzleDay video by starring in it.

Our social team selected National Puzzle Day as something fun to commemorate. We thought filming a timelapse of students putting together a puzzle could be cool. We were set to go that route when our video director suggested something a little more involved.

For National Puzzle Day, we decided to think outside of the box (pun intended – joke credited to Jason 😂)

Jason Refsland, who has served in his position at WSU since August 2023, suggested the idea of shooting a video where students put together a puzzle only to find out they are missing a piece. Upon that unfortunate realization, the students frantically look for the misplaced shape on a search that extends across campus. After turning up empty and with the students in despair, the video ends by challenging the viewer to use social media to find the missing piece.

Josh, a computer science sophomore, made this shot with his expression of despair. You must watch the video to get the full effect…the drone work is amazing!

How could we say “no” to such a brilliant idea? We cast the students and filmed the video. It turned out incredible and you can watch it right here. With the video team coming through in such a clutch way, it was time for our social media unit to complete the second half of the activation.

The look you get when you realize you are missing a single piece to the puzzle. This is Jayden, a pre-law freshman who played his role perfectly.

We posted our #NationalPuzzleDay video on Jan. 26, three days before the actual date of Jan. 29. Our plan was to reveal a clue of the missing piece’s whereabouts each day leading up to #NationalPuzzleDay.

The video ended with two still screens. The first one asked the audience to help find the missing puzzle piece (pictured). The second screen told the audience to view the caption for full contest directions.

Although the video was posted across our WSU Pullman social media channels, we made clue distribution exclusive to Instagram Story. Between 10 – 11 a.m. on Jan. 27, Jan. 28, and Jan. 29, students could go to our Instagram Story and type “clue” in the engagement box we had placed on the single IGS slide. Upon entering the magic word, we responded via DM with that day’s clue. Our goal with this method was to get a solid gauge of who was truly engaged with the contest.

In order to get a clue, students had to actually request it via Instagram Story.

On Jan. 27 the clue was the letter “I,” on Jan. 28 it was the letter “T,” and on Jan. 29 it was the letter “B.” Upon receiving the third clue, we encouraged our puzzle enthusiasts to put the letters from the previous days together to form the initials of a building on campus—ITB. The students took it from there.

This was how the first clue was presented to those who requested it.

We had eight students solve the riddle and triumphantly walk through the doors of the Information Technology Building. Upon entering the facility, they saw the puzzle placed on top of the table just like in the video. To the left of the puzzle was a small box with the missing piece inside. Each successful student had the opportunity to place the final piece into the puzzle and enjoy their moment of glory. The first four victorious students received swag bags while the final four received their choice of a single prize item.

Winning students actually had the opportunity to complete the puzzle by placing the missing piece.

What is the lesson in this? Well, I think there are multiple. First, go “extra” every now and then. Often “National Day” content can be low hanging fruit but there are opportunities to go above and beyond. Second, extend the shelf life and engagement of your video content by working in a social media promotion to go with it. Finally, and most importantly, listen to the ideas of everyone on your team…especially those video people 😉. Don’t Blink.

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