An idea, a cause & FacebookMinter Dial & wife Lisa

On March 21st, 2011, I celebrated with 70 other people around the world what would have been my grandfather’s 100th birthday.  Although my grandfather, after whom I was named, was killed December 15, 1944, I wanted to pay tribute to his life and to honor those men and women that suffered so much in World War II.  I did this combining the strength of my network and my passion for social media to create a unique social media experiment.

The concept:  A group effort — involving people around the world — to rewrite my grandfather’s last letter, which he had written 3 days before his death to his beloved wife, Lisa, my grandmother.  The letter was to be rewritten, one phrase at a time, over the 24 hours of March 21st.  Each person was given a 15-minute time slot and a specific phrase to post on my grandfather’s fan page on Facebook.  At midnight on the night of the 21st, if all went according to plan, the letter would be published on the wall, reading fluidly, in the right sequence, from top to bottom.  Here is the first page of the original letter.

Minter Dial Last Letter Bilibid Prison, Manila Dec 1944
Minter Dial’s Last Letter written from Bilibid Prison, Manila Dec 12, 1944

The work: From conception to production, the whole experiment took 8 days.*  During that time, this is what I did in terms of communications to get the program set up.

  • I sent out approximately 300 emails to family and friends (often regrouped in sets of 50 people to try to avoid falling into the spam bucket)
  • 2 posts on my own Facebook page as well as 2 mail blasts to the existing fans of the fanpage for Lt Cdr Minter Dial
  • 25 tweets on Twitter (generating over 30 retweets)
  • 70 appointment requests (via Outlook) to all those who signed up
  • Numerous random conversations on the fly

The tools used:

  • Gmail for the email campaign
  • Doodle to attribute the 15-minute time slots
  • Google Calendar to send out detailed instructions with a reminder and the text to be copied
  • And, of course, Facebook.

Then came the day itself.  Up next: What happened, the results and lessons learned.  A second post will follow tomorrow.

And you can go to his Facebook fan page to see the actual result here (updated 21/3/14 for new Facebook settings – you will need to click 2011 and March to see the exact posts!)

*I must give due credit and thanks to my friend Marie-Laure Vie for giving me the initial idea.

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