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March 22, 2011 in Brand Communications, Marketing, Philanthropy, Social Media | Tags: campaign, Kalamazoo, Medical School, Michigan, Operation Historic Moment, Social Media, Twitter, Western Michigan University, WMU | 4 comments
In recent weeks, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI launched a social media campaign to build buzz around this morning’s announcement of an anonymous $100 million gift to the university’s new medical school.
Under the theme “Operation Historic Moment”, the university promised ‘news of historic proportions that would even have national implications’ – and they used several social media tools to create buzz:
- a Twitter account was established (@OperationHM)
- a countdown clock was created online (www.operationhistoricmoment.com)
- a large display was set up on March 4 draped in a black cloth in the lobby of the university’s Bernhard Center
- an advertisement was placed on the electronic billboard off U.S. 131 on WMU’s Business, Technology and Research Park
I’m not certain what the university hoped to generate with the campaign, but by many measures it was only marginally effective. It did appear to generate a few local news stories. The campaign appears to have helped WMU capture a few thousand email addresses. And it certainly had several local civic leaders paying attention.
I also noticed that the campaign’s Twitter account had only 130 followers at the time of this morning’s announcement, many of whom were WMU marketing students or local media. The campaign website, which was supposed to convert to a live feed of the announcement, seemed to have failed. In fact, the campaign website redirected people to a page that looked like an announcement from the Catholic Archbishop of Detroit (not a great endorsement for www.michiganliveevents.com). WOOD-TV8 fortunately offered a live news feed of the announcement.
There are plenty of examples of bungled campaigns or lackluster social media efforts; mistakes happen – and companies and organizations that do make them often get better. They learn from their early missteps – to go on to social media successes.
I’m not certain of WMU’s strategy for this campaign, so I can only guess at what lessons they will learn from this effort. If I were a major donor to the school I would certainly be excited by this morning’s announcement, but fairly disappointed with this campaign. I’ll be interested to see if and how WMU talks about the glitches in this morning’s announcement. Nevertheless, one thing is for certain: they should review their results carefully and make the indicated adjustments before their next ‘big’ announcement!