Commons Campaign Project 2015
Professor Damien Pfister
Evan Wooten, Leland Chow & Stefan Haynes
For our proposal for this project, we had decided on running both a Facebook and Twitter hashtag campaign called #LookUp. #LookUp was a campaign of asking people to spend less time on their technological devices while walking, and just look up, see and maybe communicate more with other people. The exigence of the campaign was the decrease in face-to-face human interaction nowadays, and an increase in dependence on technological devices. This could affect daily life interactions, and potentially relationships with other people. Because of this, there was a need to encourage people to interact more with other people face-to-face and being less dependent on technology.
The audience was actually intended for everyone and anyone in Lincoln, Nebraska, ranging from students, faculty, staffs, to even the public. We believed we should include everyone in Lincoln, Nebraska because it is a campaign for all. However, we did believe that there were constraints facing response to this campaign. One of them was that the people might not be paying attention to the #LookUp account and page in Twitter and Facebook respectively. Another constraint was be the lack of participation from the audience as the audience might think that it was too challenging for them to do. Besides, another constraint was that the people might be apathetic towards the challenges, as the people in the modern society were vulnerable to caring less. Yet another constraint was that the audience might feel that it is too awkward for them to participate in the challenge, as they might be too shy or it might be outside of their comfort zone.
However, there were opportunities facing response to the campaign as well. The people could pick and choose the challenges they think were feasible to do, as the challenges were not timed definitely. Moreover, people who participate in the campaign could have a chance of meeting new people and making friends with them, forging a new friendship. Another opportunity was that the people would also be more aware of surroundings, and pay more attention to the beauty of the nature.
We understood that there might be other ways that encourage people to not be too dependent on technological devices, such as through an advertisement or a video, but we believed our campaign was a fitting response because it challenged our audience to not be on their technological devices too much, and it also could encourage more interaction among our audience. We hoped that this campaign did not only reach Lincoln, Nebraska, nor only Nebraska, but all around the world, but fundamentally, we just hoped that people would not be on their phones all the time.
When dealing with this project, we believed we have great ways to address the invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery of this project. Our ideas and ways of following through on this project were interesting and unique. To start, we needed to find inventive ways to gather data and address the problem we are facing; in this case we would be counting how many people we see on a given day looking at their phones while walking to class. This would be our data we use for our campaign. Because we recognized that phones, iPads, and other electronic devices were the issue we are facing, we were, ironically, using them to spread our message. The people that were viewing our tweets, posts, and posters would be made more aware of their uses of technology while performing other tasks. This encompassed our style and delivery. Stylistically, we were taking a modern approach and trying to show others how frequently they were on their phones by using Twitter and Facebook. We were showing them how often they used their phones by how often we tweeted and were trying to instruct and move them to not use their phones and devices as much. This tied in with our delivery because we were fighting fire with fire. Our delivery was ironic and eye opening. We were not only using social media, though; we were also going to be placing posters all over campus with our movement and hiding Post-It notes around campus with just “#LookUp” written on them. This would give an air of anonymity and made people feel as though this was an underground movement, it added mystery to the campaign. We were building or arranging our campaign in a way that will lead people to our social media accounts. The posters and post-it notes would be the first things people see, after reading the hashtag and tag-line of our movement they would hopefully look this hashtag up, they would then see what our movement was about and partake in our challenges. Fortunately, our ideas of people being too reliant on technology were not outlandish. Many others felt this same way which would make it easier to spread our message. People would find our post-it notes in random places, see our posters, and enjoy the challenges. Maybe the people who participate would continue the challenges and turn them into a lifestyle. If a challenge was only checking Instagram once a day, there would be others who got into that habit and it stayed with them. This was what made our project memorable. We had so many moving pieces and they were able to be shared and talked about. Our challenges could be turned into habits and our advertising was guerilla in some circumstances. This in itself made our project memorable, unique, and something others would want to be a part of.
The brass tacks of the execution of our project was almost a mirror image of what we had envisioned in our portfolio. The first step was brainstorming as many “challenges” for our project as possible. We organized these challenges into two categories: Daily and Weekly. In all, we came up with about twenty, which proved more than enough for our planned eight challenges. After this, Evan came up with a memorable and immediately recognizable graphic for the campaign which absolutely nailed it on the semiotic front and this graphic quickly became the figurehead for our entire movement. Just as we had proposed, we printed up dozens of posters and post-it with only this mysterious graphic and hashtag and posted them in every legitimate and, possibly, some-less-than-legitimate locations we could think of around the campus as well as a few locations at businesses in the city to harvest potential individuals from our public. Soon after we set up the posters and post-it notes, it was time to man our social media outlets! Evan took the reins behind the Twitter outlet of our project and Leland, with some help from Stefan, manned our Facebook page. In addition to shelling out of pocket for the posters, Evan even paid a considerable sum of his own money to get our Facebook page seen by as many people as possible!
At this point, things were really looking up for #lookup, and with puns that great how could we not succeed?
The first thing we noticed was the dimorphism of our parlance, our eloquence based on our social media platform. On Twitter, Evan realized that a more informal method of communication would be most effective; because of the 140 character limit as well as the fast-paced nature of Twitter, he opted to keep his tweets curt and kitschy, and not quite as concerned with grammatical perfection. However, on Facebook, Leland and Stefan noted that the lack of character limit and the more formal parameters of the interface necessitated both grammatical correctness and a slightly more detached way of interacting with our “Likers.” Examples of both are attached.
Another factor that we quickly picked up on was the importance of Kairos and Decorum; we had to choose a perfect time to post the challenges, be they in the morning, when our public awakens or in the afternoon, after they’ve already kickstarted their day as well as select the appropriate challenge for both the medium (Twitter or Facebook) as well as when in the timeline of our project we’re posting things (we had a few strange challenges, and we opted to put those only near the end of our campaign so as not to frighten off our public early on). In summation, our process for selecting challenges went as follows:
- Leland, Evan and Stefan suggest challenges on Google Docs.
- Leland picks challenges to be posted for the day/week and suggests the challenge to be posted in Facebook Messenger.
- Leland and Evan post challenges on Facebook and Twitter respectively.
And our process for posting those challenges on Facebook went as follows:
- Write down challenge.
- Schedule post to be posted in the noon/afternoon (10am to 12pm)
- Pin the post to top of page.
- Leland shares and likes status.
So you’d think with such a well-organized campaign and rigorous and carefully curated schedule our movement would be an unqualified success, right? Sadly, as much as we appreciate the confidence, on that you’d be horribly mistaken… Our project really didn’t come together nearly as successfully as any of us had hoped.
There are a number of factors we believe contributed to our, more or less, failure, some being factors we may have been able to control and many others being well out of our hands. One of the first issues we recognized is that, believe it or not, we appear to already be reaching the end of the Clicktivism Renaissance; people in our age group are becoming far less cavalier about what they ‘like’ on Social Media. In addition to that, Stefan in particular noted that almost all of his closest friends have either completely deactivated their Twitter and Facebook accounts or only use them extremely rarely for highly formal activities. It’s a sad fact but a fact nonetheless; our project was just simply not able to go viral, with re-tweets almost exclusively from Evan and statuses from exclusively Leland and Stefan, there just wasn’t enough gas in our go-karts to cross the finish line. Our meme of #lookup just simply wasn’t meme-orable enough, despite being armed with such scintillating puns like that. Still, it’s quite difficult to quantify just how much of our campaign failed because of what we lacked and how much of it was merely our public’s reticence to deviate from their norm, from what they’re comfortable with. While our #LookUp campaign may be down for now, if people continue to move away from social media and the internet in general, who knows? Maybe people really will start to look up.
Screenshots and other pictures can be found in this link.