JB4520 Takeover of PR Open Mic

The week of May 20th was a pretty big one for the Social Media class at Oklahoma State University.

The class, myself included, took control of the 4,000-user social networking site PR Open Mic.

Screen Capture of Day 1

Screen Capture of Day 1

By control, I mean that we were responsible for planning, implementing and analyzing the content for the week on the site.

The idea came from Auburn professor Robert French (follow him on Twitter) who created the site.  He contacted us via our Professor Bill Handy (he’s on Twitter, too) and we were given the challenge.

As a class, we decided that first thing to do (which is to say, the first thing you should ALWAYS do) is to develop a strategy for the week. As you know, too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup so we decided that a group of four students should be in control of the strategy and making sure that everything ran smoothly.

On April 12th, I recieved this message from Bill:

Welcome to the PROpenMic takeover strategy team.  You were each chosen based on your ability to work quickly, well with others, determination to accomplish a job set before you in the time frame allocated as well as a variety of abilities each of you poses. Please keep in mind, not everyone who applied was selected.

The objectives are pretty easy/set:
Generate more conversations on PROpenMic (true measurement will be determined once I have access to the analytics)
Highlight OSU’s JB Program as well as the ability of the JB4520 students
Increase membership is one of Robert’s objectives although with 4,000 folks we may be at a critical mass so I would focus more on the enhancement of the site and not so much creating new members. Besides, they are about to get 42 new members.

Being chosen was a great honor because my stregnths have always been in my strategic planning and more importantly my wilingness to lead.

I wasted no time getting organized but felt that Monday yeilded little in the way of organization and planning for the project.

Tuesday, I sat down with Bill and after being put on the spot for a topic for the week, I began to ramble about how interesting it would be to focus on the “PR Student” not the traditional student, but EVERYONE who was still learning. That proved to be the phrase that paid for the rest of the week. Luckily, Bill liked it so we had a jumping off point.

Class that day was one of the most impressive brainstorming sessions I had ever been involved with. It included me with a blackboard asking questions that helped us get a feel for what questions we wanted answers to. After the class we had a topic for each day that would allow us to provide content on the site.

The next two days were used by the Strategy Team to figure out what content would best fit with each day’s question. Finally on Thursday, we sat down with the class and handed out assignments. Luckily, our story ideas weren’t so bad that it wasn’t like pulling teeth to get producers for each idea. After class, we had a plan, and most importantly, a schedule. The game was on and it was ours to lose.

We developed a schedule for the producers where they would send in their content 24 hours before it was set to post on the site. It was then sent to a copy editor and returned to the producer who then posted it on their personal PROpenMic page. Bill Handy, who was given the site editor permissions then put it on the site and featured it on the front page for all to see.

We opened with a WELCOME VIDEO talking about what our plans were for the week.

The week cruised along quite well, there was phenomanal communication between myself and the rest of the strategic team as we as with Bill, who I checked in on everyday to make sure that the group hadn’t done anything to limit the potential of the project. He was very helpful in providing guidance while allowing us to keep control of the situation.

Most importantly, however, was the cooperation from the class. There were no major hiccups and the only bumps in the plan were smoothed over immediately. All of our editors, producers and video makers were amazing and without them the week wouldn’t have gone as well as it did.

How well did it go?(via Bill Handy)

If we compare Monday – Sat (I would argue the only change between the two weeks was the class taking over) we find the following:
Traffic increase of 75.1% (2124 visits) from the previous week
Bounce rate decrease of 4.54% from the previous week

If we only compare Monday – Friday we find the following (prior week’s number in parenthesis)
·         Average time on site increase of 6.45%
·         There were 1,918 (1,057) visits with 1,213 (698) being unique visits
·         These visitors collectively visited 9,466 (4,710) pages
·         45.46% were new visits (never before been to the site. You could infer we were a driving result of that)

Regarding Friday, I heard some comments that our effort just kind of died out – nothing could be further from the truth.

We saw a 59.6% increase in traffic. A few thoughts on this:
·         Friday traffic on websites is usually a bit slow.
·         I would argue the class stopped a much larger decline due to the strategic tweeting which occurred.
·         Here is the kicker – Socially Orange saw a 163% increase comparing the last two Fridays and had the most visitors on a Friday, or any day, ever (stats are also true comparing Thur/Thur)

I think that it’s safe to say that we exceeded everyone’s expectations EXCEPT for our own. JB 4520 understands the concept of Strategy and was able to implement an excellent one through the cooperation of 42 students and one very engaging professor.  The only people suprised were those who were not sitting inside the classrooms and offices while the endeavor was being planned.

I can’t say I was satisfied with the results, but they could have been much worse.

The best part: JB4520 set the bar high for any school who plans to take over the site in the future. I offer a challenge to those schools and dare them to come up with a strategy that will be more engaging than ours. Given a second chance, I know JB4520 would be able to out-do themselves, but I’ll have to keep that strategy under wraps for the right time.

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One thought on “JB4520 Takeover of PR Open Mic

  1. OSU did a wonderful job! I appreciate that you took 2 weeks to prepare and it really showed. My take on the traffic is that there was a significant increase.

    My reasoning for starting this project is to:

    a) allow the student & faculty members to actually gain experience running a network, if they don’t already have one
    b) help existing members develop a sense of ownership in the network
    c) increase awareness about PROpenMic

    Just yesterday, one of my students told me how she was contacted and asked to apply for a job. Why? They were seeking students that have social network management experience. Apparently, these students are hard to find. So, why not let all of the schools involved in PROpenMic expand their stake in the site while also developing those social network / community manager skill sets.

    I appreciate the hard work all of you put into the effort. You did a wonderful job.

    I’ve already received word from over 1/2 dozen schools seeking to do the same thing in the Fall semester. One is even from the United Arab Emirates! Another is from the UK! So, we’re underway, I believe.

    Thank you all for taking the first step!

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