If ever there was a good time for something i created on facebook to go viral, it’s now… a week before my dissertation on Social CRM is due. In just over 48 hours, a question i posted to our leaving cert facebook page has received over 44,000 votes (growing as we speak) and sparked massive debate amongst students, ex-students, teachers and parents…
Should Irish be compulsory?
The question was a simple one, posted at 8.32pm on Friday evening when really, i should have been working on my dissertation. In the end, that actually turned out to be ‘work’ and a cherry on the top of my dissertation. I posted a new question to our Facebook page (which had 750 fans at the time); “Should Irish be compulsory for the leaving cert?”.
Recognising Initial Potential
Within an hour it had received 78 votes from people and i was blown away by that response at the time. In fact i sent this email to Enda (my partner on theleavingcert.com) at 9.54pm on Friday;
Just realised my question on facebook has got 78 responses in just over an hour! That’s insane…
*some stuff that can’t be mentioned went in here*
If you think about it, of those 78 that responded, all of their friends will have seen our question on their ‘wall’, so although 78 people have replied, our question and thus our page will have reached potentially over 10,000 people in just over an hour (average friend count is about 150 on facebook i think)…
So as you can see, i was pretty chuffed at getting 78 responses in an hour…. you can imagine how chuffed i am now, having gotten 44,000 responses just over 48 hours later My math in that email above may be flawed, i still haven’t had time to do proper calculations, but you can see i was bang on the money in terms of ‘reach’… i was cute enough to realise this had viral potential and that we could expect a lot more then just 78 responses over the coming hours.
By midnight on Friday, we’d received 700 votes and i posted this to my twitter;
ok, now officially blown away by response on facebook to a question – 700 answers and massive debate / arguments – i’ve created a monster!
I went to bed that night and woke up having dreamt the question has received 4,500 responses (what can i say, i eat, sleep and drink this tech stuff). I couldn’t figure out whether that was a dream or whether it actually happened. A quick check on facebook left me disappointed, we’d only received about 2000 responses by Saturday morning. It was still impressive, but i’d convinced myself we had 4,500 responses…
Determined to make my dream a reality i ramped up activity on facebook by commenting on the question, liking some comments and then i published a blog post to our leaving cert blog.
That was enough to inject new life in to the question. It just exploded after that. Over 44,000 Facebook users have now voted, over 500 people have left comments and within those comments there are hundreds if not thousands of sub comments and ‘likes’.
Statistically, if you’re irish and you use facebook, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen this question appear on your wall. At 30,000 votes (including comments, likes etc..) i estimated this question would have appeared on up to 4.5m facebook user’s walls. I also predicted it had legs to get to 200,000 votes based on those stats, so we’ll see how it goes.
I realise the growth must die soon and the question itself is largely aimed at Irish people (only irish people will understand it), but about half of the Irish population is using Facebook. We’ve managed to engage with over 2% of them in 48 hours so i’ve every right to keep dreaming and to push this as far as it can go 🙂
The actual voting is interesting. It started off neck and neck up to about 1,000 votes. Since then, the ‘yes’ camp has continued to pull away and lead by about 55% to 45%. The trend seems to be that current students vote ‘no’, past students & parents / teachers vote ‘yes’.
There’s no way i’m staying neutral on this, just because it’s my question 🙂 I’m against Irish being compulsory. Yes it’s nice to have, yes it’s nice to be able to use, but try and conduct a conversation in Irish with leaving cert students. Personally, i would have been able to string a few words together but wouldn’t have been able to hold a conversation. The oral exam doesn’t count as a conversation, students can prepare for that and learn the bulk of it off. Sure, they won’t get top marks but they’ll do enough to pass simply by learning things off by heart.
That’s the problem. Irish is a stocking filler of a subject for a lot of students. If it were taught differently, or used differently in real life, then maybe my opinion would change but right now it’s tradition for the sake of tradition and our students would be much better off studying other languages and other subjects they can go on to get jobs in, in real life. At the very least, they should not be forced to study subjects they have no interest in or love for.
But it doesn’t matter what i think… students at leaving cert level are not fools, give them the right to choose and let them decide… ironically that’s what i’ve kind of done with this Facebook question as it’s generally younger generations who have voted and the slight majority disagree with my views. But until we get the entire country to respond, we won’t be able to declare a winner… so if you haven’t already done so, have your say.
In my dissertation, i’ve approached things from a ‘so what’ perspective. So you’ve gotten 44,000 votes in 48 hours – so what? How does that benefit my business? That’s unfortunately the attitude most business will have these days. Businesses who ask those questions are simply trying to justify spending time and possibly money on social media but really, if your response is ‘so what’ to this type of stuff, you don’t ‘get’ social media yet.
I could come at this from a number of angles… i could tell you we’ve gotten 100 new facebook fans over the weekend, directly as a result of this question. I could tell we’ve gotten a few more ideas & suggestions from our users. I could tell you our website traffic has increased slightly from what it would typically be on a weekend. Perhaps the 500 comments and thousands of sub-comments and likes people have left on our question might enough to win you over. But no, i’m not going to tell you about all of that 😉
Instead, i’ll ‘sell’ this to you in my own style….
It’s Friday evening. I’m busy. I’ve just had a meeting earlier in the day with my dissertation supervisor and have found out i have two new chapters to write and plenty of things to get done by deadline day which is just a week away. So i have my dissertation open in microsoft word, I have about 3 conversations going on in google chat and as usual i have tweetdeck open in the background so i’m occasionally checking in on twitter streams for news. The bottom line is, i’m busy. Very busy.
I then see a tweet from someone, don’t ask me who, that mentions ‘facebook questions’. I’d heard about this before and knew what it was but i also knew it wasn’t launched yet. I did a quick search on google and found out you could use facebook questions but you had to enable it by signing up for a trial (just involved clicking a button). So i did that and my next reaction was to experiment with it. I decided to test it out on our leaving cert facebook page by asking ‘that’ question. I was mainly just testing it out to see how it worked. The rest is history.
“So what” i hear you say. Again, you’re just not getting it, are you? Look at what i did… i was extremely busy with much more ‘important’ things on, however i was open to being distracted… i was willing to drop everything and experiment… i didn’t know this would work, i didn’t know i would even be able to activate facebook questions, never mind ask questions. But i was curious, i went hunting, i enabled it, i started experimenting by asking a question and at the end of it all, i got the reward.
How much time did all of that take me? About 2 minutes. 2 minutes which helped get our Facebook page exposed to literally millions of people. It’s taken me about 3 hours to write this blog post and during that time the number of people who have voted on our question has jumped from 35,000 to 44,000.
That’s the message i want to send out. That’s the attacking philosophy all businesses must have when it comes to social media if they want to get anywhere with it. Experiment, grab new opportunities, stay up to date with trends, embrace new features, be prepared to think on the spot. Stick with it and eventually you’ll stumble in to success with social media. A lot of what happens on social media, happens by ‘accident’. All of those accidents were created by people who ‘acted’. They had profiles, they uploaded content, they did something different but most importantly, they stuck with it…