PeaceHealth’s Jamie Sturn and Courtney McConnell on how they developed and executed their 45-day #CenturyCycle2018 Challenge

It was a big learning opportunity for our team to be able to run these experiments and connect with our communities in a big way. Jamie Sturn
This past summer, PeaceHealth Social Media Strategists Jamie Sturn and Courtney McConnell embarked on one of the health system’s biggest and longest-running social media challenges: #CenturyCycle2018.

It all started with an idea from Jamie to run something around cycling after PeaceHealth helped sponsor a new bike sharing program in Eugene, Oregon — one of the health system’s biggest communities. She took inspiration from a friend who had done a virtual triathlon and suggested experimenting with a virtual cycling program.

That program became a multi-state challenge that presented exciting new opportunities for the team to connect with their audiences.

The final challenge ended up being a 45-day, multi-channel contest that reached their communities in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington. Over the course of the challenge, participants ranging from health system caregivers, to young families, to avid cyclists could register and log miles-cycled (from both indoor and outdoor cycling) for a chance to win one of 10 prizes. Final winners were selected via a random drawing (to ensure they were being as fair as possible) to select nine winners and one grand prize winner to receive $50 and $200 REI gift cards, respectively.

We also had a lot of back and forth with our legal team. Courtney McConnell
Jamie and Courtney said while the health system had done contests in the past where participants could win FitBits or headphones, they had never done a purely social media-based challenge before.

“We didn’t really know the rules, so we created them as we went along,” said Jamie. “It was a big learning opportunity for our team to be able to run these experiments and connect with our communities in a big way.”

Courtney said their first steps were working with their digital team to set up a landing page where participants could sign up and submit their miles.

“We also had a lot of back and forth with our legal team,” said Courtney. “We had to consider the prize value if one of our caregivers won versus someone in the community, and whether we would need to offer an alternative prize for our caregivers.”

Once they had the internal framework and logistics sorted out, their team turned their attention to the creative expression.

“We wanted this to be accessible to everyone,” said Jamie. “We worked hard to reach different audiences. When we were thinking about the promotion of it, we chose stock photos that featured everything from mountain biking to indoor spin classes, and families riding together.”

In addition to the inclusive approach, Jamie and Courtney also wanted to use the challenge as an opportunity to engage with their audience through user-generated content once #CenturyCycle2018 kicked off.

“We integrated the hashtag into our copy and our landing page and asked community members to submit their photos via the hashtag,” said Courtney. “We worked with our dev team to embed those posts on our site, because we really wanted to spotlight the participants and engage with them.”

Then, once they were ready to announce the winners, they reached out to the selected participants and asked them to submit quotations that they featured on their landing page and in their Facebook announcement.

On top of their standard social posts, Jamie and Courtney ran two Facebook ad tests to extend their reach and raise challenge awareness.

I was worried that, because this was a longer challenge than we’ve ever done, people would get bored with the posts. Jamie Sturn
Using Hootsuite as their social media management tool, their team ran multiple experiments to familiarize themselves with what resonated with the different communities participating in the cycling challenge.

“We learned a lot about our ads and how to reach our audiences,” said Jamie. “Because the initiative was so long, we could experiment with ads that were longer than we’ve ever run and test more than we’ve ever tested — also turn things off that we saw weren’t working.”

For example, they learned that Alaska preferred mountain biking photos, but their bigger markets in the city preferred more urban photos. So they were able to be flexible and change the ads to suit their markets over the course of the challenge.

The results greatly exceeded Jamie and Courtney’s expectations.

“Originally, I had wanted to get at least 50 people to sign up — assuming 10 would complete the challenge,” said Jamie. “And we ended up having 584 people sign up, with 128 submitting their miles.”

Though Jamie and Courtney consider this first challenge a learning experience, they have been pleased to see positive responses from their communities.

“I was worried that, because this was a longer challenge than we’ve ever done, people would get bored with the posts,” said Jamie. “But we had positive engagement all the way to the end.”

She said that part of what contributed to that success was that they varied the posts on their organic feed — between the prize, using the hashtag, and the community aspect of the challenge.

“Then we had little micro influencers in our different communities as well,” said Jamie. “For example, we had a cyclist in Florence, Oregon who was part of a bike group and brought them into the challenge and engaged with all of our posts.”

She also shared it was through participants like him that she learned the most excited participants were those who were already cycling — and that she and her team could have run an equally successful challenge by focusing in on more targeted audiences.

As they are planning their next challenge in January, they hope to take the learnings from #CenturyCycle2018 and simplify their process.

“Our digital team did an analysis of the challenge site with a heatmap, and the activity was really focused on the areas with pertinent information,” said Jamie. “So moving forward, we would look into being more streamlined.”

Our digital team did an analysis of the challenge site with a heatmap, and the activity was really focused on the areas with pertinent information. Jamie Sturn
They are planning on their Winter challenge being a meditation challenge. And, as they develop it, Jamie and Courtney are using that heatmap to design a site with the UX and UI keeping the user in mind. They are looking at ways to target audience members who are meditating or are already interested in meditation from the get-go.

They are also planning to reach out and partner with more teams across the health system — including meditation experts who they’ll incorporate into a Facebook Live so participants can engage with the challenge from wherever they are.

For anyone considering a similar approach, Jamie and Courtney stressed the importance of internal buy-in and focusing your audience.

“It’s important to make sure your manager is on board,” said Jamie. “You’re going to need someone in your corner to help you out and help you find the right people across the health system to help you get the job done.”

She also stressed keeping it simple and honing in on a few key targets when you’re mapping things out.

“It was a large team effort, and we’re really appreciative of everyone that helped us out,” added Courtney. “Everyone stepped up to the plate, and we’re excited for our next social media challenge to begin!”

Jamie Sturn and Courtney McConnell have been members of SocialMedia.org Health since 2018. You can follow Jamie and Courtney on LinkedIn.