Last week I wrote up a summary of a project I threw together that leveraged ColdFusion and Twilio to enable the reunion crowd to vote for their favorite performance.
Well, everything went off without a hitch on Saturday! In fact, I spent an hour on Friday night changing how the system worked to cater to both smartphone and "dumbphone" users. I promised a writeup on how it worked and what the results were, so without further delay...
We printed up about 1000 stickers - just plain old Avery mailing labels - with two ways to cast your vote. First was via SMS to the number printed on it. The second way was for those "in the know" who understood what a QR code was.
The parade commentators plugged the voting in the warmup before the parade started, between acts and again at the very end. This definitely helped our cause - there was nothing else to pay attention to during those times, so the exclusivity of the promotion really stood out.
We handed out the stickers to as many spectators as we could along with each of the reunion classes while they were lining up for the parade. After a quick explanation of what was at stake (a new award!), some classes eagerly set to work with their phones. They loved that there was something to do while they were waiting for the parade to start.
This was the extent of the promotion. For an app that came together really quickly, there wasn't time to get word out in advance -- and honestly it wasn't necessary. This was a very "event specific" thing that required no prep on the part of the participants.
There are two ways to cast a vote: SMS or using the QR code. The original idea was to use the QR code to launch your text messaging app with the appropriate class year already entered as the body of the message (we'd print unique stickers for each class). You can't do that on iOS - only Android. We then realized that was dumb - if you were going to text, it's easier to just do that rather than fiddle with a barcode reader. There had to be something nicer for the barcode crowd.
So Friday night around 11:30 I sat down with Dreamweaver CS5.5, jQuery Mobile and ColdFusion to toss together a really quick web-based mobile app. One hour later it was skinned, released and running. One hour!
All told, reunion attendance was around 1000 people. There were unregistered spectators and probably some unregistered guests floating around too. Out of this crowd, we collected more than 1200 votes! Roughly a tenth of them were submitted using the mobile app. The URL was not public, so the QR code would be the only (easy) way in. At a couple cents per SMS, this was good, cheap fun - and nothing went wrong.
One key enhancement for next time: Screens at the reviewing stand showing the real time voting totals. With ColdFusion, Blaze DS and Flex this is maybe another hour of work.
The result was a decisive win for the class of 1976. Their re-enactment of Rocky was entertaining, colorful and energetic...and they certainly weren't shy about voting for themselves!
For their efforts, they were the inaugural winners of the Stephen C. Rittler '99 Reunion Parade Fan Favorite Award!