Social media is a very easy thing to screw up.
Twitter has brought down pundits, politicians, athletes – you name it.
Promotions on Twitter are just as dicey. Contests can seem forced and unnatural very easily and backfire on a company or institution trying to produce a viral sensation.
Northern Illinois University football hit the nail on the head with SchedulePalooza.
Starting on Tuesday, the school released one future opponent a day. They would give clues on various social media platforms every hour or so leading up to the release. Figuring it out didn’t net any prize, other than the satisfaction of a job well done.
And it blew up Twitter. Well, locally anyway.
In the DeKalb area, #SchedulePalooza was one of about half a dozen Huskie related hashtags that trended each morning and afternoon of the contest.
When athletic director Sean Frazier took the podium Friday at the Huskies’ Media Day, he didn’t start off with expectations for the football team or the great direction the program is heading.
“How about that SchedulePalooza? Outstanding,” Frazier said before publicly thanking communications director Donna Turner and her staff.
Normally, college football scheduling is like a quick afternoon thunderstorm – it blows in, causes some attention, then is quickly forgotten.
Oh, they scheduled San Diego State seven years from now? Cool. Then a week later – heck, an hour later – it’s forgotten.
But thanks to SchedulePalooza, San Diego State, Brigham Young, Utah and Maryland are going to ring in people’s ears for a lot longer than normal.
When you spend an entire morning researching equine programs or NASCAR tie-ins, it stays in your memory a while.
The idea was the brainchild of Turner, who said while she came up with the main concept, it was her staff that handled the implementation, coming up with clues to spread across the Huskies’ Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.
“I just thought it would be a fun way to put everything together into a neat little week of schedule announcements,” Turner said.
Not just the administration took notice at what the event did for the school.
“It brings attention to the program, it creates a buzz in the community and in the university,” NIU football coach Rod Carey said. “Quite frankly, last week of July ... perfect timing too. I think it’s been a positive from head to toe on the whole thing.”
The biggest proof of this program’s success hasn’t even happened yet, but undoubtedly will in the not too distant future. People, fans and media types alike, took notice of SchedulePalooza on a semi-national level. It seems like this might be taking of nationally soon. In a couple years, every college may be doing something like this to not only bolster their social media standing, but add interest to something that normally only appeals to the most hardcore fans.
Frazier said future scheduling announcement have only just begun. But it’s going to be hard to make those announcements in a SchedulePalooza-esque format?
“Once you start the Palooza, you can’t stop the Palooza,” Frazier said. “It just keeps on going on.”
• Eddie Carifio is the sports editor for the Daily Chronicle.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.