Great Social Media Idea: Bringing Social to the "Real World" (Part 2)

A few months ago, Matthew Anderson of Western Washington University wrote a wonderful article for the CASE blog in which he discussed a small, yet powerful thing he did with WWU's Twitter - hand-delivering coffee to a student who had just a few minutes prior tweeted about being tired and not having time to get coffee before class.

My favorite bit from his article:

This specific interaction was a very small part of that day’s social media efforts and it won’t have a significant long-term benefit. However, it was an example of the university living its brand—its mission to be engaging—in a small, tangible way. Added up over days and months, interactions like this set the tone for the university’s presence online.

I liked it so much that I wrote about it on the blog, and this wonderful example of "real world" social has been rattling around in my head over the past several weeks. I knew I wanted to do something like it, but it's not the type of thing that can really be planned... it just sort of has to happen organically in real time.

And by happy accident, it happened for me today. This afternoon, I found myself in a situation I'm sure a lot of you can relate to - late in the day, needing to scrounge up something to post. Thankfully, a coworker stopped by my office to give me one of the 3000 buttons that had just been delivered. Aha! Snap a pic with my phone, and I've got something to post for today.

Then, a student tweeted back, saying he wanted one. Suddenly, the wheels in my head started turning. NOW was the chance to put Matthew's example into action!

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Once we (myself and a new super awesome student worker who is infinitely better at Twitter than I am) successfully delivered the first button, two other students tweeted at us asking for them too. We also delivered those ones, and posted pics of the happy - if slightly bemused - students.

It's a small thing, and like Matthew said in his article it won't have a significant long-term benefit, but darn it if I didn't come away from it feeling like it was one of the coolest, most authentic, most fun things I've done with social media for a while. It was spur-of-the-moment, it was unexpected, and it was real - three things that, together, can result in some really powerful and memorable social media. THIS is real-time marketing... not pre-planning tweets about the Super Bowl and the Oscars.

Best of all? The student tweeted this a few hours later, with a statement so very much on the nose of what I strive to do with social media that it made me very happy and proud to do this type of work and get paid for it.

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Many thanks to Matthew for the inspiration to do this, and here's a hearty cheer to taking social media offline and using it to truly connect with and engage with people, not just get them to like/comment/share online. You won't regret it! 

Music at Midweek: Cocteau Twins

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