Photo by Ross Dettman
As we told you about last week, we’re very proud to have worked with the Running and Digital teams from New Balance to create a completely integrated experience for the 2011 New Balance Outdoor Nationals that tied together an athlete's physical location and activity at the meet with their online presence on Facebook.
The New Balance Nationals Facebook page served as a hub for the event – with real-time updates, photos, event results, athlete profiles and live-streaming video of the nation’s premier high school track and field competition. Through Facebook Connect, the athletes’ could have updates about their activities automatically posted to their walls, giving them a means of trumpeting their enormous accomplishment in making it to the Nationals to their network of Facebook friends. This real-time flow of content helped friends, family members and fans feel connected to the event even when watching from afar.
In our previous post we outlined the thought process and functionality behind each element of the site, but the initial results we received went above and beyond our expectations. Here's what we discovered:
1. A significant number of Facebook "Likes" came from the athletes' friends and family members.
Users were not required to like the page to access any of its content or functionality, yet we gained more than 4,300 new likes during the 3-day event – pushing the total number of likes to more than 8,000. For an event with fewer than 3,000 competing athletes, this number reflects engagement we received from friends and family members following coverage of the event via Facebook.
2. Roughly a third of the athletes at the event used Facebook Connect via our iPad application.
We incorporated Facebook Connect into a custom iPad app, allowing us to link an athlete’s bib number to their Facebook profile. Once the connection was made, we were able to post individual results and upcoming events directly to their personal profile--alerting friends and family members of their competition status. Additionally, using Facebook Connect activated an athlete profile page, which aggregated results, biographical information and highlight videos all in one place. In doing this, we learned that not all unique Facebook profile IDs are created equal, as some of our Facebook Connect requests were denied due to a user's specific privacy settings despite their willingness to participate.
3. Post engagement drove content outward to an extended Facebook network.
After sharing 66 pieces of content to the Facebook wall during the event, posts we created were seen over 400,000 times between both fans and non-fans alike - a result of user interaction in the form of comments and likes which pushed content from the Facebook page across the news feeds of athletes and their friends. Additionally, friends of athletes were drawn into the experience through activity updates on an athlete's wall
4. Photos played a huge role in establishing engagement both online and offline.
With help from photographers Victah Sailer and Ross Dettman, we uploaded close to 600 photos from around the track, which captured poignant moments of victory, heartbreak, and sheer athletic dedication. As athletes poured over these images, they tagged themselves, pushing documentation of their experience at the meet out to their network of friends. Furthermore, athletes and attendants took more than 5,800 Smilebooth photos, many of which were automatically posted to their personal Facebook wall – once again connecting their offline photo experience with their online social network.
5. Video footage of individual events was hugely popular.
In collaboration with RunnerSpace.com, we delivered 367 individual event videos taken from the live feed and uploaded to a searchable video archive within the Facebook page. This made it easy to find and watch specific footage of the meet. As a result, video clips were viewed over 40,000 times during the three-day competition.
6. Those following the competition remotely felt connected to the event.
We established a two-way conversation on the Facebook wall as we fielded more than 160 questions, comments, and requests during the three-day period. In an effort to create the best experience possible for those following the competition from home, we worked to provide timely and thoughtful responses. Between the hours of 9am to 9pm, we held an average response time of 25 minutes with 63% of replies in 15 minutes or less. As a result, 43 people posted "Thank You" on the Facebook wall after receiving an answer.
By the very nature of a social platform, we were able to view feedback in real-time from athletes, friends, and family members who felt like they were part of the experience, even if they weren't physically in the stands.