Social media lessons learned while humming the Hockey Night in Canada theme song

I like the Hockey Night in Canada theme song as much as the next Canadian. It brings me back to a late-70s living room on Fallingdale Crescent in Bramalea Ontario, where an Irish immigrant father and his three young kids cheered for the Leafs while the true born-and-bred hockey fan was in the kitchen probably wishing the Canadiens played more often on CBC. Like a lot of people, for me the song is sweetly nostalgic.

So when news came through Bob LeDrew’s blog that CBC had decided not to renew the song’s licence, I thought : Oh. That’s a shame. Then a split second later my social media instincts kicked in. Within a few minutes, by about 10:30 Thursday morning, I’d posted an online petition and a Facebook group. I decided to experiment a little to see if the page would grow without my network and it slowly did thanks to the popularity of the sport, of the Hockey Night in Canada brand, and to the media attention the story was receiving. Growth happened much more quickly when I recruited my Facebook ‘friends’ to the cause, of course.

I stopped monitoring growth and reading comments on Monday, when, as promised, I forwarded the petition to CBC’s president. I threw in the Ombudsman and a few media outlets in for good measure. Then I posted the following stats on the Facebook group page :

Closing stats (11pm ET June 9) :
5087 members in this Facebook group
9033 total signatures on the petition

That’s all in about 3.5 days.

That same day, Peter Cheney of The Globe & Mail called for an interview. I didn’t make the cut : CTV stole my thunder by announcing it had secured the rights to the song. I’m consoled by the mention of online petitions at the article’s halfway point.

All in all an interesting experience.

At time of writing, we’re at 5791 Facebook group members and 9518 petition signatures.

Lessons learned (or confirmed) :

  • Social media is a potentially powerful communications tool that not only helped this particular campaign take off but builds community. I started to realize that when I read in the petition I’d made available that I was a ‘Canadian hero’ for my initiative and when the daughter of the song’s composer Dolores Claman wrote to thank me on behalf of her mother. I knew it by the time I’d posted those closing stats and taken a last look at the conversations happening on the group wall.
  • Facebook works well for popular movements. Particularly those with strong brands and media attention.
  • Since I’d limited myself to a Facebook group page, after a few thousand people had joined my group I lost my ability to ‘message all’ – Facebook caps this feature at 5000 members.
  • If I were an unscrupulous marketer, I’d have made my Facebook group a Fan page and would now hold the profiles of close to 6,000 hockey fans in my sweaty little hands. I could start to target within my fanbase according to demographic. If I were an unscrupulous marketer who was banging my head against the wall because I’d mistakenly started a group instead of a Fan page, Facebook could help me with migration.
  • Social media lets the ‘little guy’ get his story out there, for the record. Dolores’ Claman’s daughter opened a blog to share her family’s point of view of how events unfolded after CBC started pointing fingers at Ms. Claman for the breakdown in negotiations. Madeleine Morris also used Facebook to promote her position in various related groups, including mine.
  • Canadian hockey fans are a passionate bunch.

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