Saturday, February 11, 2017

Case Study: I'm a Winner!

Do you like free things? Do you love music? Do you, like me, enjoy time travel? If so, you'll understand why I was hell-bent on winning tickets to the recent iHeartRadio iHeart80s party!

Since I drive an old car, the only source of music I have is my FM radio, and more often than not, it will be tuned to the 80s music station, iHeart80s. When I heard the iHeart80s DJs begin promoting an all-star 80s reunion show, I was bound and determined to win tickets. They do an excellent job on this station of building up hype, with frequent spots promoting the event sandwiched between hits by the stars, peppered with comments from the DJs on how excited they were to attend. They even discussed what they planned to wear and which songs they were hoping to hear, so before long I was caught up in it and I knew I HAD TO BE THERE. (Note: just because I teach and consult in marketing does not mean I am in any way immune to it!)

Now, the wise person would have just purchased a ticket, but what happened to me was like a fever: I KNEW I was going to win tickets, so I didn't have to buy them! I even fantasized about meeting the band I was really wanting to see, the 80s reggae masters UB40, as well as front man for the Aussie band Men at Work, Colin Hay. Believe me, I daydreamed myself right into the green room and imagined all the selfies I would take with my musical heroes. And all of this was to come to me for free, obviously. 

(not actually me...)

The standard way to win tickets (ask anyone) is the famous call-in at the right time and be the right number caller. This practice was huge in the 80s, so it makes sense. I certainly did it as a teen, trying to win tickets to see basically the same bands. I had the radio station's 800 number saved on speed dial on my cordless phone, which was state-of-the-art for the 80s, if you recall. Try as I might, though, in the 80s I never won concert tickets through a call-in. That didn't stop me this time, though. Since I basically time travel all the time, I was thrilled to re-enact the 80s and call in many times a day in attempt to win these tickets, and I did it for days. Days and days, actually - right after I dropped my daughter at school, again at lunch time, and later just before dinner. No dice, though, I never even came close. Caller 10 was my best...

As the concert date drew near, and I had still not won tickets, I did start to despair (and look up making the actual purchase of tickets more than once) but then, the producer did a spot that changed everything: she announced that the radio station would also be giving away tickets through social media posts. Well HELLO, I thought, THIS is something I can win at for sure! (Being that I teach social media marketing, I literally HAD to rule this.)  

The method of winning tickets via social media was simple: go to their partner 7-11 and take a photo (many of us chose to take selfies, see below) and tag it with the appropriate hash tag (#bigdealssweepstakesentry) and hope that your photo was selected. So, guess who went right out and did just that? Yes indeed, selfie queen, above. And a few others did the same, and posted on Instagram: 

The number of hopefulls posting similarly on Twitter was higher, because the demographics for this radio station (as well as the concert) are typically older, and thus more use Twitter than Instagram, so I knew that I had a good chance on Instagram. Me, that is, and the few other Gen Xers who actually use Instagram, and were not shy about cluttering up our grids with shameless promotional posts in exchange for concert tickets. 

Not that I am obsessive or anything, but I swear I was checking Instagram about every 30 minutes for 24 hours before I got the message I'd been waiting for, that I had somehow known all along I would get, confirming my status as the winner I know myself to be: 

And that was it, no more waiting for the right time to call, no more dial-busy-hangup-dial-again cycle and no more hysteria. I had tickets and I was going! All I had to do was convince my friend to go with me dressed in my ridiculous 80s ski jacket and show up with my photo ID. I happily posed for photos for the radio station's website, where I later found this photo posted along-side those of all the other winners. Winners, see? 

And guess what, it really was a great show, and while I was there I realized that though I *knew* I would win tickets, it was a show I would gladly have paid for, so I really was thrilled. Can you tell? 

I was truly grateful, so I took to social media again (obvz) to thank the radio station. I used the very medium that won me the tickets (though a different platform) and later the radio station's account "liked" my post. That's social gratification and hopefully acknowledgement that they are doing it right. Way to sell to your 40-year-old-nostalgic-woman audience! 

One final difference between winning concert tickets in the 80s by the phone and today is that though often the callers were broadcast when they won, screaming with delight, that was fleeting and only heard by those tuned into the radio at that moment. Today, with the social media post, as well as the photos the radio station snaps as "payment" for the win, there is a public record of the attempt and the win. From a marketing perspective, the more entries the better it looks for the one doing the giveaway, in terms of statistics as well as exposure and endorsement. So while I am here thinking what a winner I am, look who is actually winning: It's the brilliant marketing team at iHeartRadio who really know how to use new media, even if it is for time travel. Bravo!