The making of a worldwide social media experiment (part 2)

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The Experiment & the Experience: What happened?

In this prior post, I described how I decided to put together a social media experiment around the celebration of my grandfather’s 100th birthday.  He died December 15, 1944 and surely would have been flummoxed by the likes of Facebook… In any event, here is how that day went down.

Lt Minter Dial fan page home page

Grandfather Lt Cdr Minter Dial fan page on Facebook

62 of the 70 people who signed up successfully posted their phrase, which I thought was a pretty good showing for a voluntary event.  You can go to his 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!) — you will need to scroll down (or do control f) to find Nzingha’s post of the first line of the letter.

It was not a piece of cake by any means.  Throughout the day, operating as an ad hoc community manager, I faced myriad issues and fielded a host of questions, many of which showed the challenge of pulling off such a program.  Here are some:

  • I don’t understand where I am supposed to copy and post?
  • What time is it in France?
  • Where do I post the phrase?
  • I just realized I am not a member of Facebook
  • I have to go a meeting at my appointed time, so I will post earlier.  Better early than never.

Here are some of the reasons for why a few volunteers were not able to contribute on the given day:

  • I won’t have an internet connection where I will be [at the appointed time]!
  • My internet connection died on me (this from a guy who sells internet access)
  • My alarm clock didn’t go off!
  • “I posted it on the wall…twice.  I promise I did” (but, for some reason it didn’t show up on the main wall – and I can testify that there was a weirdo bug)

The Social Media “Results” (the famous ROI)

  • 5023 post views
  • 124 post feedbacks
  • 92 likes
  • The fan base went from 308 to 442 in the space of 8 days

What I learned

  • The time zone challenge:  Clearly, this was a major hurdle.  With people from 16 countries and 7 different time zones, getting all people’s calendars synchronized was a major issue.
  • Punctuality: The best laid plans of mice and {wo}men do not allow for 100% punctuality, especially when there is only a 15-minute window.
  • Doodle doesn’t have a parameter that limits participation to have only one person per slot.
  • Google Calendar has no text enhancements (bold, italics, colors, etc.) to make the text you send a little clearer.
  • Having a message with a more profound purpose rallies people in wonderful ways.

Rooster Post by Ken Takagi

All in all, it was a tremendous experience for me and for most of the participants as far as the back channel commentary was concerned.  By serendipity, the phrases that certain people were asked to post had a deeper meaning for themselves.  For example, “There is much to say, but time is limited.”   For others — complete strangers to me, much less to the fellow contributors — it was a marvellous show of international comraderie.  A hearty thanks to all of you who joined in.

Please drop by and LIKE the page if you enjoyed this story.  What do you think are the takeaways for community managers working on brands?

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