Note from Beth: Just as I was leaving for Cambodia, there was a great discussion within a comment thread over on my blog brand page on Facebook in reaction to post about the HSUS Facebook post that went viral. Darren accepted my offer to share a post to deepen the discussion about engagement.
Deepening Engagement, One Drawing at a Time – guest post by Darren Barefoot
This spring, The Big Wild launched Drawn to the Wild, a collaborative digital art project that invited Canadians to creatively contribute to a new version of a singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer’s music video and support the protection of part of the Niagara Escarpment at the same time. This story is about how we measured our results, and what conclusions we drew from the metrics.
When visitors arrived at the website, they were presented with a randomly-selected frame from a video of Sarah Harmer singing her song “I’m a Mountain”. After selecting a frame, they illustrated the still using a set of simple drawing tools. They could trace it, add to it or radically re-envision it. The site aggregated the resulting frames into a new version of the video. We’ve taken the app down, but you can see how it worked in this how-to video.
Each time someone drew a frame, The Big Wild made a donation to Sarah’s Protecting Escarpment Rural Land (PERL), an organization dedicated to protecting Southern Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment.
We launched the project in the hopes of deepening engagement with our existing supporters and to create a finished artifact that’s unique and shareable. Here’s what the final video looks like:
Framing up the Results
In terms of measurement, here are some key facts about the project. The numbers are not huge, but are successful based on project scope and objectives. The ‘ask’ was quite high–take the time to draw a frame of a video–we really had no idea if we’d get 120 frames, let alone the 1200 we needed to complete the video, which was the primary goal.
- Over the course of the project, we had about 11,000 visitors to the microsite.
- They came from a variety of sources. Our top referrers included our own newsletter, Mountain Equipment Co-op’s (our parent organization–think Canada’s REI) newsletter and blog, organic Facebook traffic, a small ad campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.
- Not surprisingly, our Facebook advertising campaign had the highest conversion rate among those sources that sent significant traffic to the campaign. Unusually, traffic from Twitter was also above average. We wouldn’t typically expect to see that level of participation from a medium as ephemeral as Twitter. In this case, we think the fun, serendipidous nature of the project may have jibed with tweeters’ behavior.
- To complete the video, we needed a minimum of 1200 frames. In all, we had 1822 frames drawn. We kept 1477 of them, and rejected 345. The rejects were mostly just poor efforts, with the rare downright rude drawing in the mix.
- The average visitor drew about two frames–we had 851 unique contributors. Some people drew a lot more, though. We had two keeners who drew 56 and 54 frames respectively.
- Overall, visitors spent an average of six-and-a-half minutes on the site.
- We saw an uptick in new likes to The Big Wild’s Facebook page during the campaign.
What lessons can we ‘draw’ from this project?
- While it’s risky to present your community with a high-threshold act, they can come through for you. It helps if the activity is unique or fun. We were pleasantly surprised than nearly 8% of people who checked out the project decided to draw a frame.
- Asking your supporters to do something time-consuming enables you to identify your more engaged members–those who are highest on the engagement pyramid.
- When devising an unorthodox campaign like this, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself “what does the web love”? Deriving inspiration from something that’s already succeeded on the web reduces your risk, and gives you a blueprint for success. We were always very careful to credit The Johnny Cash Project as inspiration for Drawn to the Wild on the microsite and in all our communications.
- Set expectations appropriately. While we were optimistic that we’d get the 1200 frames we needed, we didn’t imagine that we’d get 20,000.
We call these kinds of projects ‘remarkables’, as they’re web campaigns that are cool enough ‘to be remarked upon’. They don’t always work, but when they do they can help you reach new audiences and build a deeper relationship with your existing one.
What are some of the great ‘remarkables’ you’ve recently seen, and how do you think they’re measuring their results?
Bio: Darren Barefoot is the co-founder of Capulet and runs MEC’s The Big Wild.