For my most recent client, Southern Oregon University, I created a UGC initiative on Instagram during the first 2 weeks of school. It was the perfect time to leverage excitement around a new school year.
The intellectual and creative capital of the faculty and the students make SOU a vital place. The ask was for the most important people on campus to document the amazing experience of a new school year AND determine the winners.
After an Instagram submission period of 2 weeks, we curated 5 images, and gave the community one week to vote for the finalists on both Instagram and Facebook. The combined community votes on both platforms determined the 2 winners.
– Create awareness around a new Instagram account and increase engagement on Facebook
– Generate school spirit by celebrating current students and faculty as media-makers and connect-in to school nostalgia by engaging parents and alumni. Engage all populations – current students, parents, faculty, alumni, and prospective students.
– Use a unified handle @souashland and hashtag #SOUAshland and require students to tag photos #SOUAshland in order to enter the giveaway to establish brand recognition and reach. There had been some confusion before I came on board for what the University twitter handle was (multiple accounts had been created). My solution was much inspired by this post from Social Media Examiner.
1. The Facebook announcement of the 5 SOU YOU Giveaway finalists received 14,912 impressions and received the highest virality (Likes, Comments, and Shares) in the history of the Facebook page. Students asking their friends to vote for + share their image to gain more votes was a key component in impression number.
2. A sense of participating in one’s community was achieved. When one’s agency is celebrated (I document my life, this is my view from here) and sense of place is celebrated (My school is awesome), retention is a likely outcome.
I received some great feedback from students when I taught a 2 hour class fall term on Social Promotions in the SOU Business School:
- Over 3/4 of the students in class participated in the giveaway – around 30 students in class
- One student said that participating in the giveaway made her feel a part of a community
- Another student said she made new connections and friends because while participating in the giveaway on Instagram, she found fellow students on Instagram
Pulled from both FB and Sprout Social analytics and one-to-one conversations:
– Current students and prospective students – On Instagram
– Parents, alumni, current students and prospective students – On Facebook
Remix the giveaway announcement graphic in one to two ways, but keep it recognizable (each week we’d swap out an instagram image in the the announcement card). Be mindful to not flood the feed with your promotion. Post once a week to encourage participation and keep your promotion messaging consistent.
Leverage the influence of a few key people, or as Malcolm Gladwell would say, find your Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen. And be sure to give them love along the way.
The incredible thing about being on a University campus is you have built-in brand evangelists: students, parents, faculty, alumni, and even prospective students.
The SOU Instagram Giveaway CTA was for people from our community to share their photos. It made sense to ask a few visible brand evangelists on campus to lead the way, and set the tone:
– Ask a student with a popular on-campus blog to blog about the giveaway
– Ask a student and faculty member active on Instagram to share a few of their own Instagram images for us to use in the promotional announcement graphic – and include their handle on the image
– Publicly thank both of them for providing their images to support the giveaway by tagging them on FB/ twitter and linking to their social properties. Back scratching. This is the SM code, key etiquette.
– Send an ask email to all faculty to share the Facebook announcement post. Succinctly ask them to support and let them know how supporting you provides clear benefits to them. See 15 shares below.
Send The Ask Email: A note on engaging influencers/ brand evangelists
Sending an ask email is a very standard aspect of running an successful social media promotion. The goal is to educate and seduce the email recipient into taking action on your behalf in order to spread your messaging.
Perhaps not so much for this initiative as faculty as already positioned as brand evangelists, but if you’re emailing – see my post Listen, Love, and Leverage – you really want to lead with seduction. Use language to connect-in to your demo. Complement them, let them know how awesome they are, and how much you’re like them too.
This was how I got The Recessionista, a blogger with over 12,000 followers that is courted by many top fashion brands, to promote a Shoptopia Giveaway. We also had a phone call. I cannot underscore the value of face to face, voice to voice, Skype to Skype, in this digital world. Voice and facetime (in the flesh) still matters.
Work hard at sending them love, and mean it! Be innovative with your language! This hard work and authenticity really gives context and builds rapport. Which is key. Be real about it, and be on your game, please.
It’s helpful to provide pre-crafted tweets as illustrated here in my portfolio; this is something I’ve done with all blogger outreach initiatives I’ve conceptualized and managed. This keeps the giveaway/ promotion messaging streamlined. But you must say something in your copy that acknowledges that the blogger knows their community best. No-one likes it when you put words in their mouth.
- Opened Instagram account on 9/3. By the end of the giveaway, on 10/24, our follower number = 252. From 9/27-10/22 we gained 223 Instagram followers because of the giveaway
- We had over 286 photo submissions on Instagram
- Over 950 people voted on their favorite image on FB and twitter
Here’s a cheat sheet for you: