Guest Post: Campus Coffee Crawl

*This guest post comes from @StaciMJohnson, marketing/PR specialist for OU’s Housing and Food Community Experience. Interested in guest-posting on the #TeamWebComm blog? Email

I have two small obsessions in my job – social media and coffee. That is why #CampusCoffeeCrawl is my favorite event of the year. It is the perfect combination of building our social media community, spurring our students to action and caffeine.


#CampusCoffeeCrawl is an annual social media campaign modeled after a traditional pub crawl. Crawlers visit each of the five OU coffee shops during the month of November and tweet a photo to @OUCampusDining using #CampusCoffeeCrawl and the hashtag for the coffee shop location they are visiting.

Once the crawler has tweeted from all five locations, he or she can come to a designate location to pick up his or her free long-sleeved, #CampusCoffeeCrawl t-shirt. Students love it!

Through #CampusCoffeeCrawl, we have two main goals.

Encourage students to visit the coffee shops on campus

Like I said, we have five coffee locations on campus. Many of them are in high-traffic locations like the Starbucks in our student union, but other locations are tucked away – like in the basement of our engineering building. But, no matter where you are on campus, you are always close to a cup of coffee, and we want everyone to know it.

Grow @OUCampusDining

When we started #CampusCoffeeCrawl three years ago, @OUCampusDining had 394 followers. We wanted to grow this account so that we could share more information about our restaurants on campus. The first year we grew the account by 38 percent. The second year we grew our account by 15 percent, and this year we saw a 17-percent increase. As of now, we have 1,787 followers. But it isn’t all about the numbers. We want to grow a community. We want our followers to start a conversation with us and see that we will respond.

#CampusCoffeeCrawl has been a huge hit! The first year we ran out of t-shirts in about two weeks, and we had to order more to finish out the campaign.

Crawlers were not only visiting new locations, but they were creating Twitter accounts just so they could participate.

In fact, we still have people every year say they are visiting locations they didn’t know existed and joining Twitter just to do the crawl.

So how can you run a successful social media campaign? Each campus and each event is different, but after three years, we have picked up few #ProTips.

Find something that makes sense

It is all about knowing your audience and your product. For us the combination of coffee, November and selfies just works. Students already go to coffee shops, and they already post about it on Twitter. All we do is convince them to try a new coffee shop and send us their photos. We have tried so many promotions – often that require less work – that just haven’t worked. That’s ok, too. Learn from what doesn’t work and find something that does.

Get and stay organized

It is important for us to track who is participating, and for us to keep an accurate tally of where people are in their crawl progression along the way. We use Google Sheets to track names, Twitter handles and locations visited. We have to manually update the sheet throughout the day, but in the end, the information is worth the time. Our sheet updates to tell us how close crawlers are to completing the crawl. The spreadsheet also helps when crawlers come to pick up their shirts. We can quickly look them up without having to go through their tweets or search for them while they are in our office. Plus, it helps with analysis when we’re done.

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A big part of having a conversation is responding. We don’t reply to every tweet we receive related to the #CampusCoffeeCrawl, but we do read them. If a crawler does something clever, we acknowledge it. If a tweet is particularly funny, we laugh. If someone asks a question, we always, always respond. Twitter is about conversation, and it is important that you interact with your audience, and not just constantly feed them messages.

Cross Promote

We don’t rely on just Twitter to spread the word about #CampusCoffeeCrawl. We want new followers; so, it makes sense that we can’t just promote to the followers we already have. We put posters up at the coffee shop locations. We work with other departments, such as Web Comm, to promote the campaign on their channels, and we promote it on our other social media channels, which include Facebook and Instagram. This year we experimented with Twitter ads. We had never used any paid advertising before for #CampusCoffeeCrawl, but we found a lot of success. We were able to more than double our increase in followers over the previous year, and we spent far less than we had budgeted. If one of your goals is to increase your followers, I would definitely recommend looking into Twitter advertising.

Until the next #CampusCoffeeCrawl,

Marketing/PR Specialist
Housing and Food Community Experience

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