For a week in April this year, we used Sheffield Hallam’s main Twitter account – @sheffhallamuni – to run a daily give-away, utilising Twitter’s excellent polls functionality. Every day for a week, users could vote in a poll on our timeline for the chance to win a branded hoodie.
Of course, we did it for a reason. We didn’t just have piles of burgundy hoodies lying around we wanted to get rid of. We had an objective: fun.
Okay, that’s over-simplifying it, but it’s essentially right. Organisations do a lot of promoting on social media – ‘shouting’ about this, ‘making some noise’ about that – and they forget that social media is about conversations.
In order to have a conversation with someone, you need to listen to them.
The impetus for doing a give-away came from that simple premise: we wanted to ask our followers a question, and engage them in a dialogue. Specifically, we were interested in our current students, who are our most engaged audience on Twitter. And it coincided perfectly with Varsity – the city’s annual celebration of student sport.
Varsity is a real celebration of student sport in Sheffield, and an opportunity to highlight the sense of belonging among students.
In order for it to succeed, we knew it had to be something fun and conversational, that our followers would want to take part in. We wanted to run it over a few days, to build up a bit of momentum – and for it to feel like an event.
Lastly, we wanted to celebrate the great city that we’re proud to be a part of.
So we came up with the World Cup of Sheffield. For five days, our followers would tell us what they thought was the best thing about Sheffield. And on the last day the final would decide what the best thing in Sheffield was.
So, once again, here are the component pieces of our give-away:
- about students
- celebrates Sheffield
- sport theme
What was the goal? Brand affinity. We wanted to have some fun with a very engaged audience – current students – and let them know that we listen to them, and care what they think (and say).
How do you measure something like that? Engagement. You want people to take part . . . and hopefully even have some fun with it.
And here’s what we did. (Disclaimer: I had a bit of help from a small group of students, who came up with some suggestions of what we should include in the polls.)
We cued the competition up, explaining the format before we launched into the first poll. Day one resulted in 132 votes, 69 likes and a couple of RTs. There were no replies, but we learned that our followers really like Tamper Coffee.
On day two we asked our followers to vote for their favourite cinema.
Although there were less votes, there was a slight increase in the number of likes. We started to have some fun with Twitter’s selection of gifs.
Engagement stayed at a similar level on day three, but the conversation started to take shape, and some of the local businesses we were talking about joined in.
Day four was marred by controversy – the topic of gig venues in Sheffield is emotive. Questions were asked.
And things got tense.
The number of votes and likes was a lot higher than previous days. Why? There are a number of possibilities, including:
- the sustained approach was generating more interest
- our followers are more engaged later in the week
- the poll subject was more relevant to our audience
- all of the above
Friday was the final round of #WorldCupSheff, in which all of the week’s winners went up against each other to determine the Best Thing in SheffieldTM.
And there you have it. A clear winner.
Let’s go back to our original plan:
Was it fun? Well, we certainly enjoyed watching the poll results come in, and the conversations that developed each day. But let’s look at our total levels of engagement.
During #WorldCupSheff week (17-23 April 2016) we had a total of 56 replies to our tweets, 103 RTs, 10 RTs with comments, and 582 likes. Our total level of engagement (9,108 individual engagements) was a 107.9% increase on the previous week (4,381 individual engagements).
And engagement is a decent indicator of people having fun – it means they’re enjoying your content, and finding it relevant and interesting.
So we’ll conclude that it was fun. What was the next objective?
This is straightforward: the World Cup of Sheffield was a conversation. We asked people a question, they told us an answer, and they asked questions of us. And the stats support that statement, with 78% of our posts being conversational during that week, and 22% of them being classed by our social media monitoring software as ‘updates’.
The World Cup of Sheffield was all about students. The branded hoodies, the venues, cafés and restaurants, which were suggested by a small group of students . . . it was a conversation about student life in Sheffield. And a quick scan of the users who liked the posts shows that the most engaged audience was Sheffield Hallam students.
From burritos to gig venues, cinemas to café culture, this was all about the Steel City.
It was the World Cup . . . of Sheffield. That’s quite a sporty theme.
It ran for a week, and gained momentum towards the end. The length of time it ran for felt right, and it needed a few days to pick up pace.
What did we get out of #WorldCupSheff? Our goal was brand affinity, and a sense of good will among our followers. We eased off on promotion, shouting and making noise, and for a week we had fun, rewarding engagement with daily prizes.
Would we do it again? Definitely. I can see #WorldCupSheff making a return on a regular basis. The investment is minimal, and we ran a week-long brand affinity campaign for the cost of a few hoodies and a bit of staff time.
Would I change anything? Yes, if only to make sure we weren’t repeating ourselves. Getting input from students was really important in making the content relevant, and that’s something we could develop further.
If you have any suggestions on how to improve it next time, leave me a comment, or tweet me.
Joe Field, social media manager