This week, a small team from Almighty flew from Boston to Greensboro, North Carolina to try something altogether new. For the fourth time in 12 months, we're working with the Running and Digital teams at New Balance to create a fully-integrated activation in support of a national high school track and field event - on this occasion the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, the outdoor championships for US high school track and field athletes.
We've done this before, creating entire real-time experiences within Facebook: instant results, live video stream, searchable video archives, photos delivered by our friends at Smilebooth. This time, though, we were determined to go beyond delivering a rich experience inside of Facebook, and to create something that took advantage of Facebook's strengths in letting people (in this case athletes) share their successes in more meaningful ways. Making the national championships is a big deal, and we wanted to celebrate and recognize that truth, hence:
1. We built an app to tie the whole event together. Almighty developed a custom iPad application, specifically for Outdoor Nationals, that used Facebook Connect to link together a user's Facebook profile with their bib number and schedule of events. With these two pieces of information joined, and with the user's permission, we can do things like:
- Use Facebook Places to check-in an athlete at the venue (1335 check-ins to-date)
- Post to an athlete's wall 15 minutes before they participate in an event suggesting friends tune into to the Livestream to view the competition.
- At the completion of an event, results are posted to an athlete’s wall. Our application even lets the athletes determine the form that the postings will take.
- Automatically post Smilebooth photos to the athlete’s wall. The application allows us to tie multiple profiles to each set of photos, as most Smilebooth pictures are group shots.
2. We completely re-vamped the way in which we've handled results. Working closely with Flash Results, Inc., we're now able to connect in near real-time an elaborate data set to each race, including detailed split times/marks and FinishLynx photo images. We've continued to work with the outstanding team at RunnerSpace.com to deliver individual event videos, which we've now incorporated into the result set.
3. Each athlete who goes through the Facebook Connect process on the application automatically activates a profile page that permanently aggregates his/her results, highlight videos, and biographical information (personal bests, other achievements) into a single location. As these athletes connect with Facebook at subsequent New Balance events, these pages will continue to log their results, highlights and information in a central location, easily shared with friends, family, coaches, recruiters and one another.
Two full days into the process (the meet wraps up this evening), we've had a strong sense that these efforts have been a success. There has been genuine excitement around the iPad application and the value of auto-notification of results - we've had more than 1100 Facebook Connect sessions at an event with fewer than 3000 athletes. Check back - we'll post a wrap-up with more detailed learnings in the next few days.