Monthly Archives: October 2014

SMC Review 10/8

Nancy and Pete Frates

Nancy and Pete Frates spoke to the Social Media Council about the #IceBucketChallenge, technology and ALS.

It was a BC Social Media Council that none will soon forget. Nancy ’80, Andrew and Pete Frates ’07, spoke to our group about Team Frate Train, the #IceBucketChallenge  and living with ALS.

What was responsible for this summer’s viral sensation? Nancy explained that three key factors played a role:

1. Pete is a master communicator and relationship builder, a skill that has been honed throughout his life. Pete’s network is large, varied and geographically diverse. From elementary school to college friends, teammates and professional associates, he’s always made a point to remain connected to people through visits and phone calls. As his disease has progressed, Pete relies more now on email and social media – Facebook Messenger in particular. Nancy recalled her family’s eye-rolling episodes when Pete called someone “my buddy” or “my buddy’s buddy”. “We would always say, ‘he’s such a name-dropper,’ but after his diagnosis, all those buddies came running.”

The history of the challenge in Time, explains how Pete’s network gave the ALS awareness movement momentum. Nancy said the resulting response from Pete’s video came as a shock to almost everyone. 

“I knew it was coming,” said Pete. “I was ready for the boom.”

2. A clear call to action and a 24-hour deadline. 

The night of his diagnosis, Nancy remembered, Pete refused to be overwhelmed by negativity.

“We all sat around the table and Pete said that this is an opportunity – that is the word he used – he said that this was opportunity for us to change the world. We’re not looking back we’re looking forward.”

The Frates became focused on raising awareness and helping fund research for a cure. ALS is a disease that progresses rapidly, so there is urgency to their work. The immediacy of the challenge – participants had only 24 hours to pour a bucket of ice over their head or make a $100 donation (many did both) – presented pressure to act immediately.

“My favorite video is Bill Gates,” said Nancy. “He put real effort into it. It’s also because six hours after his diagnosis, Pete said ‘I’m going to get the ALS message in front of Bill Gates.’ He did it. It’s profound.”

The Frates talked with engineers at Facebook about the magnitude of the response. The numbers are staggering – to date, 2.5 million videos uploaded, number of views in the billions. On Twitter, a successful campaign for breast cancer awareness had 142,000 posts to a hashtag in the month of June. The Ice Bucket Challenge had 142,000 tweets in one hour on a Monday afternoon in August.

The fundraising component has also been unprecedented – by some accounts the total may hit $500 million for ALS support and research worldwide by the end of the year, Nancy said.

3. Fun.

From celebrities to everyday people, the spirit of the challenge resonated around the world.

“The consistent thing in all the videos is laughter,” said Nancy. “People were having fun, laughing. And people laughed watching the videos.

“ALS is a terrible disease, it takes away so much. This gives something to families dealing with ALS: hope. You couldn’t log into social media for weeks without hearing about ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge. That is incredible for an underfunded disease that most people had ever heard about.

“It’s been a game changer.”

For more information on Pete, visit his website.

WeAreBC Snapchat

Teaser GraphicFor more than six months, we’ve been toying with the idea of launching a Boston College Snapchat.  Yes. Snapchat.

In an effort led by NPA Office Manager Michael Maloney MBA ’15 and BC alumna Kathryn Breen ’12, the “WeAreBC” Snapchat launched Oct. 3.

I’ll admit to being a skeptic. Even with a strategy in place, questions persisted: Are we jumping on the bandwagon to a trend that will fizzle in a few months? How can this possibly be useful when the content disappears after 24 hours? What about the lack of analytics?

It’s Snapchat. Why do it?

Some facts:

• It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the numbers: there are more than 100 million* active monthly users are on Snapchat, 71% under the age of 25. An astounding 77 percent of college students are on Snapchat and approximately 400 million snaps are sent each day. 

• Higher ed is starting to test Snapchat. In our research, the list of schools is growing and now includes: University of Michigan, UNH, University of HoustonUniversity of Kansas, Eastern Washington UniversityUniversity of Central Arkansas, Tennessee Wesleyan College and our own BC Athletics. From offline professional conversations, many other schools are considering the platform. Brands outside higher ed are already well represented and thriving: Taco Bell, the NBA,  Audi and GrubHub to name a few.

• Analytics are challenging, but not impossible. What we are able to see are the views, screen shots taken and tally followers. Although it would be nice to have more, even these basics are enough to start to measure ROI. As those of us who administer social channels know, analytics evolve as the platforms grow: enter Instagram/Facebook, Twitter

• Finally, BC students were on board. Our new team of Social Fellows (along with every other student we spoke to) were excited and shared ideas of what they’d like to see.

It’s important to note here that most of our social media efforts started despite outside criticism. (I’ve heard that Facebook is a fad that would be gone in six months and no one would waste their time on a college Instagram or Pinterest account.) These channels were each started as a way to connect and meet students where they are.

They’re on Snapchat. They check it several times a day.

Boston College’s official Snapchat, WeAreBC,  launched Friday. An hour prior to launch we sent out a teaser tweet from @BostonCollege:

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 1.10.03 PM


We posted a first message to our Snapchat Story:



Then promoted the account with an introductory contest through a tweet and a post on @BostonCollege Instagram:

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 1.10.21 PM

My healthy skepticism was surrendered within the first five minutes. Here’s the third snap we received:

IMG_9658Jesuits snapped us from church. It wasn’t staged. It happened completely organically. And over the next four hours scenes from our community poured in, some of them are highlighted below. We received snaps not only from Newton, Brighton and Chestnut Hill, but from California, from Italy and from Israel. We added them to our Story. Winners were picked and arrived to claim their prizes. And it was all gone in 24 hours.



We’re now up to 600 followers. Like most of our social media channels were, the pilot year of Snapchat will be a learning experience for both the administrators of the account and the community. Our strategy and execution will need to be modified and fine-tuned. But four hours proved that this can be an effective tool in our communication arsenal. The only one? No. A unique way to provide relatable, real-time content? Absolutely. We found that Snapchat isn’t just where our students are, but it’s where our alumni are. It’s where are staff are. It’s even where our priests are.

The launch of WeAreBC has been a gentle reminder that even those of us who are constantly plugged in may be missing something. Social media will continue to evolve and we need to remain agile enough to find the best ways to connect.

— Written by Melissa Beecher, Social Media Manager at Boston College

*Although the company has refused to disclose the total number of active monthly Snapchat users, it has been published that the numbers exceed 100 million: DMR, Forbes, DailyTech