Colleges have enough trouble getting star football players to come to class when the players are actually enrolled. So how the heck did Emerson College get Patriots receiver Julian Edelman — a pro baller with no academic obligations — to attend a marketing class a couple of weeks ago?
The answer is through a well executed Twitter campaign by students of professor David Gerzof Richard, who also runs BIGfish Communications in Brookline.
Students began by simply engaging Edelman on the social network. When a digital marketing firm tweeted photos of Edelman wearing Google Glass on the practice field, for instance, senior Tyler Lepkanich asked the receiver on Twitter whether he had some good footage. Edelman responded the same day, and later posted first-person video of punt returns.
Students followed up by studying Edelman’s social media habits and composing a blog post making the case for why he should visit their class. Then they blitzed him with tweets linking to the post, using the hashtag #Edelman2Emerson.
“lets make it happen,” Edelman replied.
A Twitter campaign, though it may seem informal, was the most effective way for the class to make its pitch, said Laurel Heenan, a junior marketing communications major.
“By tweeting at him, you’re bypassing the middle man,” she explained. “You’re going straight to the source. You’re not contacting someone else and being put on hold, or having someone say, ‘We’ll get back to you.’”
There was another reason to use Twitter: public pressure. It’s easy to ignore phone calls and e-mails, or turn down private requests without anyone else knowing. But if you blow off a group of students in a public forum, everyone knows it.
“We had a really strong message, and we had a group of people tweeting at him and creating a conversation about Edelman coming to Emerson,” said another student, Maria Vivas. “The conversation was hard to ignore.”