Moving #DukeForward on Social Media

It’s been a very interesting—and a very humbling—process trying to establish a social media presence from ground up for the Duke Forward campaign. Building a following across channels is only one key piece of the puzzle. Keeping people engaged is another. Both are contingent on a willingness to experiment—and fail.

We’ve had a measure of success with content that informs (e.g. gift or campaign milestone announcements) and content that features our donors, the face behind giving at Duke (e.g. Q&A with donors). Working with our more established partners like Big D and Duke Athletics has helped us grow our reach with new audiences.

Duke Forward’s On the Road events—which bring Duke and Duke Forward to alumni communities around the world—have been particularly fertile social media grounds for us. The events give us great content like Facebook photo albums of attendees at academic sessions with top faculty and students, and alumni writing three things that they love about Duke—securing likes, shares, tags and comments. Here’s one example and another. Twitter has also been another very interactive space for us.

During our most recent event in Miami in February, we ramped up our efforts with a new trivia contest connected to Coach Cut, who was a speaker at the event. We hoped it would build some excitement, get attendees engaging with us more—and reward them for it. Who doesn’t like swag?

Tweet and Win

We wrote up promotional content on the table tents that were placed around the event space.

The question was: “In which year did Duke play its first Orange Bowl game?” and the first three people who Tweeted us the right answer won footballs autographed by Coach Cut.

Trivia question

We got our winners very quickly and even had a fourth person Tweet that they had gotten in their answer in in a timely fashion. Luckily, we had a couple of extra footballs so we gave one to her as well. The most rewarding part of the contest was how happy everyone was about winning and how excited they were to get their picture taken with the coach.


We’re planning on continuing the contest through our next few events, with different prizes depending on who our speakers are.

**Footnote: The Annual Fund liked the idea of the contest so much that they did the same thing at this year’s Big Event!