Last weekend, at The Armory in New York City, Almighty worked with New Balance to create and manage an entire digital experience in support of the New Balance Indoor Nationals — the high school championships for indoor track and field. For the first time, the entire online experience for the event was built within Facebook — both an opportunity to reach the kids where they already play and a chance to explore what we could deliver inside Facebook's new architecture.
Ultimately, we were able to fully-deliver on what we had imagined as a real-time experience: a streaming video feed of race events via Livestream, sliced up and archived within the site in near-real-time using YouTube, and race results pulled directly from Delta Timing. Layer onto this several hundred wall updates to a Facebook fanbase that included both meet participants and friends and family around the world, and things got interesting quickly.
By Sunday afternoon, when the last race (Boys 4x400m Relay) had been run, we'd learned a few things we had not necessarily expected. We're highlighting four of them here:
1. Text to Like works (at least we're pretty sure)
We were all aware of the existence of Facebook's 'text-to-like' functionality, but hadn't really found great opportunities to test it at scale prior to this weekend. As we watched kids funnel in to the event on Friday, phones in hand with time to kill, the account team suggested that it would be great to be able to drive text engagement through the Armory jumbotron. 30 minutes later, with some support from the creative team in Boston, it was implemented.
The results, at least via Insights, are a little vague: 'Nearby' is listed as a source, with 'Unknown' far and away the most common source of page likes. Anecdotally, we saw a significant real-time correlation between changes in our Like count and the Jumbotron messaging, but we'd very much like to see the data to support it.
Regardless, this was a quick, easy and low-cost implementation that drove both traffic to, and awareness of, our event presence.
2. Like is often the new 'Thank You'
A significant volume of our engagement over the weekend was pretty transactional: people looking for an archive of a race, or wondering about the results of a heat. This was an easy win for all involved - an experience strikingly-similar to the role of the reference desk librarian.
We know that 'liking' has become a go-to behavior for all manner of engagement, but we were somewhat surprised by the extent to which it replaced the 'thank you' wall post. In almost every case, this was the default behavior.
It's hardly world-changing, but certainly re-frames some of the ways in which we value kinds of engagement.
3. We're all learning to navigate all over again
The new architecture for brand pages, with left-hand navigation in place of top tabs, certainly seemed to be a roadblock for our users. It seems intuitive and obvious to some of us, but these changes take some time for people to process. More than a third of the wall posts we handled were requests to find information that was easily and obviously accessible through the page navigation.
4. Places usage was far below what we had anticipated
At an event attended over three days by some 3,000 high school students, many of whom carried multiple mobile devices and/or smartphones, there were fewer than a dozen Facebook Places checkins - and the Almighty and New Balance teams accounted for all but one of those.