Day 23 – December 6, 2009 (Sun): Drive Followers to Purchase a Special Offer

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Start of Day Twitter Stats: Follow: 148 Followers: 115 Listed: 7

Missed yesterday? Go here to read what happened on Day 22 – December 5, 2009 (Sat): Combine Your Social Media Tools

twitter_power_joel_comm_150So how do you drive followers to purchase a special offer when you don’t sell anything? Joel Comm figured (correctly, it turns out) not all his readers would have items to sell. He came up with a brilliant idea. If you don’t have anything to sell, sell someone else’s product through an affiliation. Then, to get a special offer, you just need to get your affiliate to agree to give your followers a special offer.

This whole gambit presupposes I want to sell. I’m not sure I’m there yet. Remember, as I prattled on about in Day 18 – December 1, 2009 (Tue): Start Putting Your Tweets Together, I’m not even 100% sure I know the true objective of the ChrisCarosa Twitter account. If you’re reading this, maybe you can pop me a line and let me know what I’m all about.  Perhaps you’d rather I reveal the rest of the yesterday’s story?

It’s just as well I didn’t spend this Sunday on Twitter. After all, I spent all day at the Finger Lakes First Lego League Regional Championships at the University of Rochester with Team GearFreeze. For those of you who’ve been following this (it turns out) daily journal, here’s the honest truth of what happened just a scant few hours ago:

GearFreeze goes into its project presentation. The acoustics in the room leave much to be desired (and made the recording virtually worthless). This time the presentation occurs pretty near the beginning of the event (as opposed to pretty near the end like at the Qualifiers). I can tell the kids are still tired and not quite up to their game. They run through the skit pretty well, but aren’t as crisp in the Q&A. They almost appear as deer in the headlights – and they realize this. I don’t know, maybe they didn’t have their first cup of coffee yet (neither had I, but I have an excuse – I don’t drink coffee).

The team then immediately proceeds into the technical presentation. Now they’re wide awake and on the ball. We didn’t practice this one. They only decided yesterday to change our standard presentation and go through their entire decision making process. So, given our epic failure two weeks before and, as a result, starting from scratch, the kids showed three different robots, including Robby, the robot that will actually run the missions. This also offered the advantage of giving more of the team members a chance to speak – which they did magnificently. The room – an open hall with multiple simultaneous presentations – again fails to offer the best in sound quality, but this didn’t faze the team. They bubble with excitement as they eagerly express the awe of their failure, their successes and, ultimately, their discoveries. We leave the room feeling pretty good, but the perceived missteps of the project presentation continue to haunt us.

We huddle again. The project team decides to track down their judges and try to make sure they had no misconceptions about our project (the kids eventually did this and the judges kindly assured them they understood). In the meantime, the robot team frantically tries to make any last minute environmental adjustments. In our practice run, a huge unexpected obstacle smacks us – the bridge we need to sneak under has less give than we accounted for and Robby gets stuck underneath. Consequently, Robby fails to run about half of its missions. With a maximum 295 points in our run, we have precious little room for error if we want to score above 250.

The builders rush back to our pit to re-engineer the robot, while the programmers consider their options. The rest of the team either plays in the huge field house, passes out team stickers to other teams or, primarily in the case of Peter, my son, sticks close to our booth to answer any questions from passers-by (and especially wandering judges) about our project solution.

Before we know it, we realize we forgot to order lunch. Fortunately, one of the team parents, on his way from distant Honeoye Falls, passes near a pizza shop and comes bearing two pies. The kids (and coaches) consume with delight, finishing just before the opening ceremony.

Almost immediately after, we find ourselves in Round One. Robby, performs nearly all his tasks and yields 255 points – above my arbitrary threshold but, I think, not really enough. I figure we’ll end up in the middle of the pack. We return to the pits. When the round ends an hour later, a parent who stayed back, reports to us. The top robot run was about 340 points. That’s about where I expected. What I didn’t expect was the score of the second place robot: 255 points. That’s us!

Knowing we’re within a wisp of a breath of 295, I know we really have a shot to do better. In Round Two, Robby does some weird things – like mysteriously shutting down for about 90 seconds. Just at the buzzer, Robby jerks back to the proper position. Again, 255 points. Good, but not good enough and we slip to fourth place as the other teams improve their performance.

The final round sees a dramatic fail as Robby again gets stuck under the bridge. We score 115 and finish in seventh place for the robot mission competition.

Mind you, this competition, despite its name, isn’t all about robots. In fact, the robot mission accounts for only 25% of your final score. The technical aspect of the robot (i.e., the technical presentation) counts for 25% and the project presentation counts for 25%. The remaining 25% goes to team spirit. So, as the competition ends, I’m back to where I was yesterday afternoon as I left the high school: We probably did well enough to earn a project award but, despite finishing well above average on the robot (7 out of 36 teams), the only chance for a prize there might be consistency (if the judges forgive our third run).

I eyeball the awards almost as a disinterested observer. Certainly there’s some category in the project area we might qualify to win. Last year, the team came home with no trophy and I felt bad for them. (I do, however, totally disagree with the concept of participation trophies. Medals and certificates are fine, but not trophies.) One by one the announcer proclaims the winner for each project award class. Gearfreeze does not pass through his lips. As the ceremony moves on to the robot awards, my heart sinks. A momentary hope blossoms when the emcee introduces the consistency prize. Just a quickly, reality dashes this last whiff of optimism.

We’re left to the last two trophies: Second Place Runner-Up and First Place Champion. I figure, since last year one of the category winners also won first place, we’re out of the running for that. Still I cling to the chance the judges might have mercy on us and give us second place (again, that’s what we got last year, only they didn’t have a trophy for it then). When second place goes to earlier category winner, I deflate. (Sigh!) Such is life. There’s no way we’re going to be given the Champion’s award.

And then, as the voice begins to tell the story of the Champion, things begin to sound quite familiar. Given the not-so-subtle hints, the adults know we had won it about three seconds before the kids do. But none of us believes it until the word GearFreeze gushes from the PA system. Come to think of it, we still don’t believe it.

So it’s on to Atlanta and the FLL World Festival.

The most amazing thing: I told the team after the qualifying tournament we’d need two runs above 250 to have a chance at winning the whole enchilada. They went out and created a robot to do just that. We got two runs above 250.

Isn’t it great when a plan actually works?

Here’s a plan that might not work since I probably did it at the wrong time of day on the wrong day of the week. In my exuberance, I rush to start following a lot of local folks – many I know. They probably won’t see me as a follower in the clutter of e-mail they read tomorrow morning, so they probably won’t follow back.

How many followers do you think I’ll have after 30 days? Click here to enter your guess on my Survey Monkey survey “Chris Carosa’s 30-Day Plan to Dominate Twitter Experiment.” There’s no prize, but the fan who guesses the closest correct number the earliest will “win” and I’ll mention you if you want me to.

Find out today’s results on Day 24 – December 7, 2009 (Mon): Drive Followers to a Blog

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