As the world's #1 child-serving non-profit advancing STEM education outcomes and the development of 21st Century life skills, FIRST relies on the generous support of our corporate sponsors to continue changing the world one student at a time. Our dedicated sponsors give much more than dollars to our organization, and we are always looking for new and innovative approaches to demonstrate the many ways they support FIRST robotics teams. During our biggest event of the year, FIRST Championship, we leveraged Instagram takeovers to highlight the support of our corporate sponsors, engage our shared audiences, and showcase the energy and excitement of our annual culminating event celebrating STEM and innovation - all to spectacular results. The 2017 FIRST Championship spanned two weeks, across two cities, and brought together 65,000 supporters and robotics team participants from nearly every corner of the globe.
We want to highlight takeovers by FedEx, NRG, and Rockwell Automation during FIRST Championship. These corporations support
FIRST at the highest level, as Strategic Partners, and each executed takeovers that were brimming with personality, playfulness, and – above all – passion for the FIRST mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators.
Our strategy for each takeover was to hit the following notes through the sharing of images, videos, and the use of Instagram stories:
- Showcase sponsor brand/personality
- Highlight the different ways sponsors support FIRST
- Highlight how support of FIRST fits into the sponsor's corporate culture
- Give audiences a front-row seat (and a backstage pass) to the action of FIRST Championship
- Highlight/leverage any special events happening concurrently during the Instagram takeover (e.g. Earth Day)
FIRST collaborated with each corporate sponsor leading up to the date of the takeover regarding timing, content ideas, and promotion. Onsite at FIRST Championship, corporate sponsors leveraged their own resources to produce live content and push out via the FIRST Instagram account.
Through these collaborations, FIRST and corporate sponsors produced content that engaged audiences – both in attendance and following along at home – with exciting event coverage. The takeovers also helped to educate our shared audiences about the partnerships between FIRST and these corporations, and demonstrated the level of passion these sponsors have for the FIRST mission in surprising and meaningful ways.
For our corporate sponsors, these takeovers provided an opportunity to showcase their brand in a positive and unique way. The takeovers also gave sponsors a platform to talk directly to the highly-engaged FIRST Instagram audience, which is primarily young men and women under the age of 24. By collaborating with FIRST on these Instagram takeovers, FedEx, NRG, and Rockwell Automation were able to humanize their brand and authentically engage with this concentrated audience of young people.
FIRST Championship is a massive and inspirational event like none other, and you have to see it to believe it. Through these Instagram takeovers, we were able to employ multiple voices and POVs to tell our shared story.
The Instagram takeovers resulted in a bevy of new followers and tons of engagement for FIRST:
New followers: 829
Total Impressions: 344,378
Engagement rate: 16.2%
Sponsor takeovers kept FIRST audiences excited and engaged throughout the two-week event. The engagement rate of the takeovers was high by industry standards, and comparable to the high engagement rates that regular FIRST content on Instagram typically sees.
In addition to gaining new followers, the brands measured success in other ways: "The Instagram takeover was the perfect way for FedEx to engage directly with the FIRST audience. We were relevant in a trusted place, and were able to directly engage with these students. It provided a fantastic way to humanize our brand and show that FedEx cares about technology and STEM education" - Jason Baker, FedEx
Also of note, we launched a now regularly used hashtag - #stemsquad - during FIRST Championship, and our sponsors helped us drumbeat this throughout the event via Instagram takeovers. Since then, our community has fully embraced this hashtag and it has come to represent our passionate community of participants and supporters.
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