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FROM DIGITAL TO REALITY: HOW LAMICHAEL JAMES USED TWITTER TO ENGAGE

Oregon running back LaMichael James woke up Sunday morning and had an idea that would blow up to be much bigger than he probably could have imagined.

The all-time leading rusher for the Ducks wanted to have a scavenger hunt. He wanted to include students, fans and his Twitter community. He wanted to give them some memorabilia and gear that he collected during his time in Eugene.

James sent out a tweet to get things started. He said “I think ima give these away… Any1 wear a sz 11?” and showed a picture of white Nike Jordan shoes with a royal blue trim.

From there, the Duck nation woke up quickly and was welcomed into a brilliant social media scavenger hunt for items that belonged to one of the most storied players in Oregon history. James proceeded to tweet out pictures of sandals, an autographed Oregon polo shirt, an autographed program and other items. James said he didn’t want anything in return for the found items, just a tweet back to let him know that the items were found.

Game on.

James partnered with Andy McNamara from the Ducks’ sports information department on clues on how to find the items. McNamara offered some hints through his own Twitter feed.

 

1st clue for the autographed program: Jack Johnson song #LMJHunt#goducks @LaMichaelJames

@McNamaraUO

Andy McNamara

 

 

LMJ autographed football polo is now in play. You must tell the person wearing it “The password is Texarkana” #LMJHunt @LaMichaelJames

@McNamaraUO

Andy McNamara

 

 

 

Rachel Doyle with Oregon’s marketing department also helped hide the items around the stadium. Students, fans and supporters were looking high and low around campus and at the baseball game at PK Park, which shares a parking lot with Autzen Stadium.

The fans finally found the items. The idea had people talking online and all over the park. Local television stations picked up the story because they say the hunt happening online and filed reports on the activity.

Chad DePaoli’s son, Jason, won an autographed polo after connecting the dots and finding the shirt at PK Park. A park employee was wearing it under a Ducks baseball jersey. DePaoli said the hunt was a good way for his sons

“The hunt kept them very entertained and made the game even more fun for them,” DePaoli said. “I also enjoy puzzles and games, so the clues became a challenge for me as well. It was a fun activity to do together…The whole way home both of them kept asking if the hunt was ever going to happen again.”

James sparked the idea. He asked for McNamara and his team to help. This wasn’t a formulated plan. It was spontaneous and incredibly effective.

DePaoli said the hunt became the talk of the baseball game. He estimated PK Park had over 1,000 people there and in the heat of the hunt nearly 100 people were searching for the James/McNamara planted gear.

Eleven-year-old Jason DePaoli was one of the winners of the LaMichael James scavenger hunt.

“Jason was being interviewed by the news (after he found the shirt) and was asked if he was ‘a big Duck fan.’  His reply was: ‘No, not really.’  This is fairly true.  He likes the Ducks and going to the games, but would never go out of his way to be a fan,” recounts the elder DaPaoli.

“But now he really likes LaMichael and asks me every day what LaMichael has tweeted that day. They both can’t wait to go to another baseball game. (M)y boys now have a direct connection to LaMichael and the Ducks that make them more interested.”

We talk about gamification of social media. Does it get any better than this? What James and the University of Oregon taught us is how really humanize your brand, your product, your players, your personalities with a fun and easy-to-do activity. People were talking about this all over the web.

“Personally, it reaffirmed my belief in the positive power of the medium,” says McNamara. “But more importantly, it let others who may be skeptical about social media in general see that influence firsthand.”

Who can do such an activity? Teams, naturally, can. How about stashing a pair of primo tickets in a hiding spot, give clues via social mediums and watch fans connect and take action. (And make sure you have members of your staff on hand to guard those tickets!) The same can be said for a radio station. What about sharing a new product? What if Nike hid a Fuel Band in Central Park and gave clues were to find one of the first ever to be released? It is the Willie Wonka theory.

McNamara said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ducks employ a similar activity down the road again.

“We are always looking for fun and different ways to connect with our fans, so I definitely expect to do something like this again in the future,” McNamara said.

Better start following the right people, Duck fans. You never know when a Twitter hunt may pop up again.

 

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