Crowdsourcing a cover shot? Sure, why not.

We’ve hoped to make the SUNY Oswego Facebook page more interactive without resorting to irrelevant claptrap (“How do you feel today?”), lame contests (“be the 14,000th to like our page and we’ll give you a prize, showing we don’t care about the first 13,999!”) or other gimmicks. So when suddenly an odd idea popped up to fit a content need, I decided to go with it.

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 8.20.41 AMThe page still had a cover image of a snowboarder from the semi-recent Rail Jam, and as I pondered a spring shot to replace it with, I realized this would be a great time to get our tech-savvy and photo-passionate audience involved. So I posted*: “While we love our snowboarder photo, we feel like it’s time for a spring cover shot. Have any great images of campus in the spring? Post them on our wall, and maybe we’ll use yours (with credit, of course) as our next cover banner!”

[* Scott Stratten of Unmarketing would probably note that some organizations first would have to put together a committee to establish a focus group to test the message before posting it. I’m glad we can go with the flow for such things.]

The first post was a picture of a blizzard, followed by a good-natured jab or two about spring only lasting a week in Oswego, but before I had time to wonder if what seemed a decent idea would swirl down the drain, people started posting photos. Some pretty darn good photos, actually. Often sunsets, but some flowers budding and even a rainbow. Sweet!

Finally, after about 24 hours of collecting, we chose a winner:

Awesome photo by Tim Herrick

Awesome photo by Tim Herrick

We posted it with the promised photo credit but also kept open turning some of the others into cover photos down the line. And maybe we’ll do this from time to time to see what happens. Pretty decent reaction: 165 likes, four shares and a few comments from alumni missing the famed sunset view.

Winning shot postedIt isn’t rocket science or a major innovation, I know. It’s a small thing, and I’m sure some way-too-serious sort is questioning the ROI of something that took a mere couple minutes. But it also isn’t cynically using your audience as pawns to get to an arbitrary number.

Anyone running a Facebook page will have content needs from time to time — photos are often a big one — so why not see what’s out there? There’s a pretty good chance your community has, or is willing to create, plenty of awesome! And in the process it becomes even more their community.

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