SCVNGR’s Beantown Challenge

Every year, Boston hosts its famous college hockey tournament, the Beanpot.  Every year, Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University and Northeastern University battle it out on the ice to be Boston’s #1 hockey team.  SCVNGR decided to take this to the next level and created the Beantown Challenge.  Since Harvard didn’t answer them (I guess they were afraid to lose), Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University and Emerson College came together to battle it out and prove which school was the best at social gaming.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with SCVNGR, they are a location based service similar to Foursquare.  SCVNGR allows you to check into locations and play challenges at the particular venue.  Challenges include answering a riddle or taking a picture at the place you are at.  Certain challenges lead to rewards (Zipcar has a reward for free driving dollars).  You can earn badges and points and compete against your friends.

Mike DeFilippis, Alex Shuck and I immediately enlisted the help of Dean Elmore and John Battaglino when SCVNGR approached us about this competition.  Of course, they put their full support behind us, and we immediately recruited other students to help us in the competition.  We had about 15-20 other students helping to promote the competition, play the challenges and ultimately prove that Boston University deserved to win the Beantown Challenge.

The competition lasted from February 7-14.  During this time, 15 challenges could be active at a time.  We put up the challenges in the School of Management, College of Communication, College of Arts & Sciences, Warren Towers and the George Sherman Union.  People who played the challenges had to either submit pictures or answer questions.  Some of the questions asked about favorite foods or types of coffee or questioned the types of social media people use.  People also had to snap pictures of parts of campus.

By 12:00 pm on Day 1, we had already surpassed 1,000 points even though the other schools barely had other points.  By the end of the day, we had between 3,000-4,000 and kept going strong.  Throughout the week, we gave out various prizes as incentives for students to play (even though the incentive to beat the other schools was enough for some people).  The most active player on Day 1, Emma Tangoren, won tickets to the Beanpot AND had the chance to go to pre-Beanpot parties with Dean Elmore.  Throughout the rest of the week, Celtics tickets and tickets to see Kylie Minogue.  By February 9, three days into the game, we had reached 10,000 points.  We ended the competition with 14,116 points.  Emerson had 2,892, Northeastern had 1,166 and BC had 1,029.  Other prizes that SCVNGR awarded us included black SCVNGR t-shirts, SCVNGR water bottles, $800 in Student Universe travel dollars, SBS Varsity Cards and 10 Celtics tickets.

So how was BU able to get so many points so quickly?  With the help of the administration and the SCVNGR ambassadors, we took the following measures:

1) Constant tweeting.  Under the hashtag #BUSCVNGR, we constantly tweeted about the challenges, prizes and opportunity to beat BC off the ice.  We got the attention of many BU students and BU organizations.  Even professionals in the area began to ask about #BUSCVNGR.  When they saw us racking up the points against the other schools, they showed their support for this BU effort.

2) Utilization of Facebook.  We created a Facebook event page to update everyone about the new challenges.  We used Facebook groups to help the ambassadors communicate.  We created a Facebook Fan page for Dean Elmore to spread the word.

3) Traditional media.  We were interviewed by the BU Quad in an article “#BUSCVNGR: Don’t Get Mad, Beat BC” and the Daily Free Press in an article, “Students Show BU Spirit and Win Prizes in Beanpot Scavenger Hunt”.  These articles highlighted our ability to gain support from the students, and the lead we had over the other schools.  (After the event, we were also featured on BU’s Social Media blog in “Social Media Communicators Meeting 02/15/2011: SCVNGR, BU Culture Shock, Facebook Pages, Upcoming Events.”)

The amazing part of this campaign was that there was actually little planning.  We took the above measures, but word spread so quickly around Twitter and BU’s campus that it was pretty easy to make everyone aware of the competition in such a short period of time.

Stay tuned for another blog post by co-coordinator, Mike DeFilippis.  In the meantime, thank you for playing SCVNGR and helping us win BU!

SCVNGR Experience at Fajitas & Ritas

Now that I finally have my Android phone, I am taking every possible opportunity to use any app that my Blackberry could not have…aka SCVNGR.  If you are unfamiliar with SCVNGR, you can only use this app on Android and iPhone devices.  You can check in at various locations similar to Foursquare, but there are also “challenges” at the location.  These challenges may include saying something about the location, taking pictures doing certain activities at the location, etc.  At some places, these challenges can lead to rewards.  At Zipcar locations, if you earn a certain number of points, you get a free tote, t-shirt and even driving credit.  So last night when I went to Fajitas & Ritas and saw I was eligible for a reward, I was pretty excited.  The reward: 15% off my check.

My friends and I started to do all of the challenges to earn the 25 points necessary to get the reward.  As you can see below, we took pictures of margaritas, nachos, fajitas, wall art, etc.  We even went as far as making origami out of tin foil to earn points.

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When we finished our meal and were ready to get our reward, I showed my phone to the waitress.  She said she had no idea what SCVNGR was.  I referred her to the advertisements at the front of the restaurant, and she told me that she had never heard of it in her 10 years of working at Fajitas & Ritas (I obviously told her that SCVNGR was a new company).  She went over to her manager to see what to do about our check because I insisted that we get our reward since it was advertised at the restaurant and came up on my app.  The manager agreed to take 15% off our check but said they would not do it again.

My friends (who had not known about SCVNGR before last night) were thrilled that we got 15% off, but at the same time we all felt that it was bad that there was a special here that the staff did not know about.  People who are familiar with SCVNGR are going to come in and do the challenges, and if they do not get the reward, they will be pretty angry (as we were when we thought we were not getting the money off the bill).  If this promotion is going to be successful, the staff at the restaurant need to be familiar with it.  Even more so, they simply subtracted the money off our bill instead of plugging the SCVNGR promotion into the system so they will be unable to measure any benefits from using SCVNGR.

It is part of the responsibility of the venues who work with companies like Foursquare and SCVNGR to openly communicate with their employees about these promotions.  SCVNGR is helping attract customers to Fajitas & Ritas, but it is also their responsibility to make sure customers are satisfied when they complete the challenges.  I was lucky enough to get my reward, but will the next person be as lucky?

Boston TweetDrive

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For the past month or so, I have been working with Kratz PR to plan Boston’s TweetDrive.  Harrison Kratz, the President of Kratz PR came up with the idea to have tweet-ups across the country with an entrance fee of a toy instead of money.  At the end of the TweetDrive, toys will be donated to local children’s shelters in each of the cities.  The three weeks of TweetDrives were started last night with Boston and Philadelphia and will continue in 26 other cities including CincinnatiCleveland,ProvidenceDallas-Forth WorthSpokaneColumbusOrange CountyPortsmouthSeattleRockfordOcean SpringsBucks CountySt. LouisLouisvilleChicagoHoustonToledo,CharlotteAtlantaWashington, DCJacksonville and New York City.

We are fortunate to have national support from many sponsors.  PopchipsAuntie Anne’sOptimal Media Group andPitchEngine have all donated their products and services to helping this cause.

Boston’s TweetDrive had sponsors including Panera Bread who provided sandwiches and chips, VitaCoco who provided a variety of drinks and Zipcar who provided transportation to bring the toys to the Home for Little Wanderers in Boston where the toys are being donated.  A HUGE thanks to all of them!

Last but not least, SCVNGR graciously offered to host the event in their office in Cambridge.  If you have not been to their office and have the chance to go, you definitely have to go!  It is probably the coolest facility that I have ever seen.  They have challenges hidden throughout the building, and the architecture is just really cool.  So we were very fortunate that they allowed us to have the event here!  Thanks again guys!

The event went very well!  Everyone brought a variety of toys for the kids from teddy bears to Toy Story items (which ended up being the most popular gifts of the night) to cars and Playdo.  There were many people I did not know who came which was fantastic!  The mission of the event was to gather people together through social media and gather as many toys as possible to donate for the holidays.  Both parts of the mission were definitely achieved, and everyone was able to network, eat and start off the holiday season the right way with TweetDrive!

I’m looking forward to this event being an annual event, and hopefully I will be able to attend some of the other TweetDrives in the other cities this year and next year.  Above this post are pictures from the event.  If you attended this event or any of the other TweetDrives, please comment below and let us know what you thought and what we should do to improve for next year!