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!

Advertisements

Independent vs. Owned

After going on agency tours in New York City, I have been thinking about the differences between independent PR agencies and agencies owned by holding companies.  What are the benefits of each?  Do I have a preference of which type of agency I would like to work at?

Employees at independent agencies talk a lot about the benefits of working for an independent agency during these harsh economic times.  They say that they called their own shots.  They were not told how many people they had to lay off to maintain profits by the larger holding companies.  They were able to give holiday bonuses.  They were able to keep up high morale by their independence.  And they also have other independent agencies to connect with for networking purposes but not for decision making purposes.

As for agencies owned by holding companies, we have WPP,Omnicom, and IPG as three of the largest communications holding companies in the world.  What are the benefits for them?  They have a strong network of agencies to communicate with (or compete with in some cases.  Apparently, it is even more exciting when you beat out a sister company for a client!).  When things are tough, they have a parent company to step in and help them out.  With some of the top communications practitioners in the world, there is always someone to connect with for help in a certain specialty.

So when you are choosing a job, does it matter to you if the agency is independent or owned?  Is this something you think about before you apply to a job?  I can honestly say this decision did not enter my mind until I went on agency tours and heard both sides brag about the benefits of being independent or owned.  What are your thoughts?