Born to Run?

Since I arrived at Boston College last Fall 2017, every moment has been zero to 360. From networking to internship fairs, classes to MBA clubs, there’s barely enough time to fit in everything you aspire to do. 

We are required to complete 20 hours of community service in the full-time MBA program. I wanted to make sure my volunteer hours counted toward something meaningful. As the proposed list of options became available, the first thing that caught my attention was the MBA 5K Run Club. Every spring, the club hosts a 5k run that raises money for a specific charity of choice. There are unlimited running spots and around twenty to thirty volunteers each year. It falls a few weekends before the Boston Marathon to get people in the running spirits and feel that they are involved in a good cause and part of the running community in Boston.

BC MBA Running Route

Since I joined the club, we hold monthly meetings that consist of selecting the race date, picking the charity, and organizing the operations and sponsors. The biggest challenge is marketing and promoting the event to the entire Boston College community, both graduates and under-graduates. The common goal for each race is to connect all years to come together and unify as a collective university, promoting school spirit and charitable giving. My main responsibility is working with Marathon Sports on brand partnership, t-shirt design, and marketing, and linking our information together on all social media websites. This year we have selected the following sponsors who will be either giving away discounts, t-shirts and swag for the top runner finalists.

Our charity finalist is an organization called YES, also known as Youth Enrichment Services. YES is a private, non-profit organization that provides affordable and impactful sports-based youth development and leadership programming for Boston children and teens. YES believes deeply in the transformative power of engaging youth in active outdoor activities. Its mission is to inspire and challenge youth with physical and mental activities that foster lifelong respect for self, others and the environment.

Youth Enrichment Services

I thought to kick off this week’s posting, it would be favorable to share with you my involvement with this Boston College Club and let you know the ways in which we will use social media to drive awareness, registration numbers, participants, and volunteers.

We have created both a Facebook event page and landing page that you can access here – https://bcmba5k.weebly.com. The race date is Saturday, April 6th, 2019. There will be more updates to come. Stay tuned for the Facebook event page as we are sprucing it up and working with our designers to perfect the logo. 

Our partnership with Marathon Sports includes a mention in their Road Race Monthly newsletter that reaches approximately 130k users, inclusion in regional road race listings on marathonsports.com, Facebook posts from Marathon Sports location closest to the race location, a Facebook event listing co-hosting with 14k followers, Instagram posts @marathonsports with over 8k followers and multiple tweets from @marathon_sports with over 9k followers. This partnership covers all social media angles and has more fans and followers than our Boston College 5K MBA page.

But let’s dive in further. Is there any way to continue to maximize our exposure? What is the right path to take full advantage of promoting a school race? Are there other methods and techniques to involve students on campus and get them to sign up? I know Facebook Event Groups, Twitter, Instagram and even marketing emails can help promote and build attraction and sign-up for student races.  Those are staple social moves.

My sense is to focus exclusively on breaking down these social media channels and take full advantage of them. Here is a list of top twelve things that go outside of the box of just regular postings to get users more engaged and grow the awareness among the target we want to hit.

  1. Add social media icons to e-mail signatures
  2. Promote links on different school landing pages at the top
  3. Traditional marketing and advertising – use poster boards in front of classrooms
  4. Send posters to local businesses and the sponsors that are backing the event
  5. Encourage students in classes and professors to spread the news
  6. Ask current followers to share page – sponsors, charity, partners
  7. Go old school – use campus television stations or radio stations for self-promotion
  8. Make sure to use customized hashtags on all digital promotions
  9. Send out a newsletter – make sure to promote the idea that up-to-date information is always available on social media channels
  10. Have a contest. Those who comment and share the post get entered in for a gift card. People love winning
  11. Upload personal videos from last year’s race and place on YouTube channels to share on the Boston College channel
  12. Content is King – make sure quality graphics and videos are shown

Have any other suggestions? Please be my guest and share away! This list is a start to other ways to promote and I personally want to see what you all think!

                      

12 comments

  1. I had no idea that the MBA program required 20 hours of community service and I really like your choice! I participated in the red bandana 5k run which has the exact same route that you will be taking, and it was a lot of fun to just be surrounded by people trying to accomplish the same goal (warning, the uphill part up towards college road is quite brutal, but a good time!). I think your promotional ideas are great and you could also ask the sponsors to perhaps have a night in which part of their profits will go directly to the charity. This will motivate students to not only purchase items from the sponsors, but also help contribute to the charity. A win win for both! College students also love to create new clothing items for events. When marathon Monday approaches, students post t shirt, hat, socks, and other items to sell that they have created to wear on that Monday. Your group could create apparel for the run to not only raise money, but also unify people through clothing. Great post and good luck with your run!

  2. dilillomelissa · · Reply

    This is such an exciting event! It looks like you’ve got a really good handle on starting to promote it. I am going through this process right now as well. Ironically, the event I’m starting to promote, Grad Ball, is also on April 6, 2019, but in the evening of course! My team is also coming up with best strategies of how to reach the student population, but in our case, just grad students. Something we have done in the past are giveaways, but only after they join our organization on a social media platform, for instance. You have hit a lot of really good ideas spot on in your list. Another way we’ve promoted is printing out posters and going into all the grad lounges around campus and putting our materials up on their boards, which you mentioned. If I think of anything else, I’ll make sure to pass it along. Looking forward to your event and I hope you can make it to mine as well!

  3. I think it’s very appropriate that the MBA program requires 20 hours of community service. The BC student body is very involved in service. I think without the requirement the MBA’s would be missing out on something that makes the BC culture so special. As someone who has been involved in raising money and awareness for service organizations, I get it. It’s a lot of work. But it seems like you are doing a fantastic job. Getting your name and mission out is the most important thing. People have to see and understand the organization to want to care about it. Good Luck!

  4. I had never heard about this club or event so I’m excited to learn about all the details and logistics of the event and think its definitely something under-grads would be interested in participating in! BC is full of both active people and people dedicated to service so I think this event will do amazing things if students are more aware! I think definitely tagging marathon monday and utilizing the hype for that will draw people’s eye. Maybe you could purchase/ask for donations of some of the T-shirt s that students create, and auction or raffle them off to get people interested in participating. As you said, people love winning and I think this prize would definitely target under- grads, specifically!

  5. Like many of the others who commented, I had no idea that MBA students had a community service aspect requirement to their degree. I suppose it’s a good way to try combat the stigma and “greed” that seems to be a trend in business, while helping to support causes in need. This sounds like an awesome event, and I’m a little upset I didn’t know about it earlier. That being said, it sounds like they have the right person on the job and you’re really making strides at getting the word out there. I think one of the most important aspects of this kind of promotion is just continued engagement. Keeping content flowing to social media platforms gives more frequent reminders about the event, but gives chances for you to connect with the people going and even ask for feedback/ideas about what people might want to see. Mixing both traditional promotions and more technological ones is a great step at reaching a wider audience. I’ll say that using our class blog and the technologies we all follow was already a very creative way to talk about how tech can be used in event promotion, but also actually promote your event at the same time. In terms of t-shirts and promotional give-aways. I always find (at least with the undergrad crowd) that relevance and pop-culture connections are always winners. The Marathon Monday t-shirts are always favorites and people come up with some really clever and funny designs that raise money but also bring awareness. I’m sure this has all been finalized, but maybe in the future a design contest for fun t-shirt concepts on twitter/facebook/etc. could make people feel more involved and help raise money.

  6. This sounds like a great club to be a part of, and I liked how you were able to tie the MBA community service requirement into a post! As a part-time student, my involvement in organizations tends to be outside of the BC community, so I’ve completed most of my hours through volunteering with the Junior League of Boston. This year, I am on the planning committee for the League’s annual Charity Gala, which is taking place at the end of March. With just over a month to go, we are in overdrive trying to sell tickets to the event and solicit as many donations as we can. One way we plan to leverage social media as the event gets closer is doing a “takeover” of the League’s Instagram account, where we can highlight some behind the scenes work in the week leading up to the event. If this is something the various BC social media accounts would allow, it’s worth considering as an add-on to any scheduled posts!

  7. I love the direction you went with this post! Not only is it highly applicable to our class and the different topics we are covering, but it has a unique, personal twist. This sounds like an amazing event, and a fun run. I have also run this exact route for the Red Bandana 5K, which always produces a great turnout. I think simply using this route will attract undergrads because we all love the Red Bandana Run and we see the good that a simple run can do for our community. It sounds like you have an excellent, well rounded social media strategy (and traditional marketing strategy) to maximize exposure and seem to be on track to have a great turnout. I especially like how you are leveraging some of your sponsors more prolific followings to generate buzz. In addition, thank you for the “out of the box” tips on running a social media campaign! I’m sure they will come in handy for many of us one day.

  8. Looking forward to the race this year! While an undergrad, I was surprised at how often I would peer over at the traditional marketing and advertising posted in the classrooms, it is definitely still successful. I would also suggest getting these posters in all of the dorm halls. As an MBA student, we receive weekly emails of events/happenings on campus, be sure to get this event on there! There must be a weekly email for all of the undergrad students as well.

  9. As many others have remarked, I also had no idea about the service requirement for MBA students. I totally feel your pain on marketing the event, though! I’m on the executive board in our undergraduate student government (UGBC) and I oversee the Student Organizations Division, which oversees the application process for new and prospective organizations. A lot of people have vague ideas for clubs but it does take a bit of initiative and self-starting to figure out how to actually start one. I try to simplify that part of it and it’s my goal to have that process be as transparent as possible, which means that I have to market it. We engage on Facebook, but given that fewer and fewer members of each incoming class use Facebook, we’ve noticed that it doesn’t have the same impact it used to. Something I did to help gauge the effectiveness of old-school marketing like flyers was to put a bit.ly link into it and measure how many clicks it gets the day after I share the flyers. Interestingly enough, there’s a substantial uptick in clicks immediately after the flyers go up, so that might be a good way for y’all to engage as well! Good luck!

  10. This is awesome. I was completely unaware of the MBA requirements. A suggestion that worked for events on campus is marketing in the dorms. As an undergrad, anything posted on my way from class to the dorm has the greatest effect. Good luck!

  11. I love how you used our platform here to reach the exact community and audience you are targeting to participate in the race. I think this is the best form of targeted digital advertising you mentioned!
    As for using engagement and social media to get more participants I have to think that this type of event would fall under the category of “users engaging because influencer they trust or friends have recommended them do so”. With that said I think giving people a reason to repost the event or maybe share your registration with friends on your instagram and using the hashtag could be the best way to promote the event.

  12. What a great opportunity, for you to combine something you’re passionate in and a fantastic cause. I think your questions about social media campaigns are very astute. Justine’s contextual commerce and Aidan’s egg in class presentations highlighted how influential and lucrative social media marketing can be. There’s a sweet spot in social media marketing between being an annoyance, that is preventing you from accessing content, and priming the user so they remember your company or ad later. These strategies often utilize concepts defined by behavior economists. I learned about the priming concept in psychology, where if you are shown an object it is likely you will be able to recognize it later regardless of your interest level the object or not. I think your list of things to do will help capture your targeted audience and spread awareness.

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