CJC Online Master’s Student Gets Quick Lesson in Social Media as Part of the #AllinChallenge
By Lenore Devore, B.S. Journalism 1984
Christine Morrison knew little beyond the basics of social media when she took Cody Hays’ Social Media Advertising class this semester as part of her online master’s degree program at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. She used Facebook and Instagram. But Tik Tok?
“Not my age group,” the 35-year-old Ormond Beach, Florida, native said of Tik Tok, a video-sharing social networking site founded in 2016.
But the timing of the class was perfect. With the arrival of the global pandemic, her boss at Fanatics, an online retailer of sports merchandise, had an idea to raise money to help feed those in need. Working just three years as the Director of Product Content Marketing, Morrison suddenly found herself getting real-life social media experience while doing her part to raise $100 million.
Fanatics owner Michael Rubin created the #AllinChallenge, but it was the Fanatics marketing team who brought it to life within two weeks. While doing so, Morrison put what she’s learned in the master’s program to work and saw firsthand the power of social media.
“This concept was a hashtag challenge concept. I don’t think Michael had any thought of doing it differently,” she said. Rubin started the challenge after getting some friends involved, then calling them out publicly to donate items that would be auctioned off or used as a prize for a sweepstakes drawing. Those friends began calling out others.
But it was Tik Tok influencers, including sisters Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, who put the challenge into high gear on the first day, getting it trending faster than anyone expected. They even donated a day with them in New York, learning what they do, how to create your social media persona, getting one-on-one training — and having fun.
“Until taking Professor Hays’ class, I knew Tik Tok by name only and never would have imagined that influencers from that new app could have such a huge impact on an event that would grow to include Ellen Degeneres, Madonna and Matthew McConaughey,” Morrison said. Hays’ class taught her how “to recognize the unexpected blowup of the social media influencers compared to what had been expected.”
She’s amazed at the speed, “the speed at which social media can promote something compared to traditional marketing,” she said.
The day the #AllinChallenge launched, Morrison said she searched the hashtag to see what was showing up. She saw comedian Kevin Hart’s post on Twitter, which was liked a lot, but not retweeted. “The next 200 tweets or so were Charli and Dixie. They were retweeting everyone who donated, tripling the numbers. Fans were tweeting the hashtag when they entered, celebs were retweeting. They were just flooding it, over-enthusiastic fans who wanted the retweet from the media celebrities.”
Morrison said she thought Tik Tok was a fad that would be here and gone. “But this, they (Charli and Dixie) got it up there faster than Kevin Hart, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning because of their huge following.” The sports stars and actors now have more likes and shares, but they didn’t at first because “their fans weren’t as enthusiastic or engaged.”
The challenge has raised $16.5 million through April 22. The goal is $100 million, which will be donated to four organizations that help children, the elderly and first responders.
Morrison said the Search and Display Advertising class she took provided her with a foundation for understanding how metrics are calculated and how hashtags trend. “That was helpful in understanding how the hashtag was effective, how search results rank.”
Being an employee, she’s not allowed to win, but if she could, she would love to win the “Run a Lemonade Stand with Ryan Reynolds & Hugh Jackman” sweepstakes. “It’s very clever that it’s a secondary fundraiser. They’re doing it with their kids, but the money goes to first responders.”
She thinks the 2018 Rolls Royce Phantom donated by rapper Meek Mill shows his heart — it was the purchase that motivated him to be successful. “Donating it was a big sacrifice for him.”
Morrison said those teaching the online classes in the Master of Arts in Mass Communication program are really informative and enthusiastic about what they’re teaching, which makes it easy to learn. One consistent thing she heard throughout the program is to “know your brand and know your voice.”
Morrison earned bachelor’s degrees in management and logistics and an MBA from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville before heading to work at Ceva Logistics. Fanatics recruited her five years ago to be its supply chain analyst. Having accomplished her goals there, she was ready to walk away when Fanatics asked her to become the director of product content marketing.
That’s when she decided to pursue her master’s degree. “My parents were Gators, but I was overwhelmed by the size of the school — I graduated high school with 15 kids. I started at a smaller university with plans to transfer to UF, but I fell in love with UNF.”
She’s attended home football games since she was in middle school. “Florida football is still pretty much the only way my parents, sister and I get family time in during the fall. When I started at Fanatics, the only passion I had for sports was UF football, but it was all I needed to fit in.”
With a second opportunity to get a degree from UF, she enrolled in the online program.
“My job requires a lot of travel. It’s not an option to go back to school in a traditional way. This works well. I’m on a computer all day, every day. They have apps, so I can work on it on the road, on airplanes. It works with my life.” She expects to graduate in August.
Now she may have an opportunity to contribute more to Fanatics and give back to the company — and others. She would like to use her experience with the #AllinChallenge during her last semester, detailing “the speed from inception to execution, to build a website, then to market it that well.”
She hopes nonprofits, who do a lot of fundraisers, and others can learn from her experience. For now, she’ll continue adding items to the #AllinChallenge at www.allinchallenge.com.