Famed inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 with a vision: to transform culture by creating a world where scientists and engineers are celebrated as widely and loudly as athletes and celebrities. FIRST has become the world's #1 child-serving non-profit advancing STEM education outcomes and the development of 21st Century work-life skills through our engaging robotics programs for K-12 students.
Our biggest event of the year is FIRST Championship – the Super Bowl of robotics. The 2017 FIRST Championship spanned two weeks, across two cities, and brought together 65,000 FIRST participants and supporters from nearly every corner of the globe.
FIRST relies on the generous support of our sponsors to continue changing the world, one student at a time. Our sponsors give more than dollars to our organization, and we are always looking for innovative approaches to collaboration in support of FIRST.
During FIRST Championship, we leveraged Instagram takeovers to highlight the support of our sponsors, engage our shared audiences, and showcase the excitement of our culminating event celebrating STEM and innovation - all to spectacular results. FedEx, NRG, and Rockwell Automation collaborated closely with FIRST to takeover the FIRST Instagram.
In support of our overarching goal to make FIRST accessible to every kid, we encourage our community to #makeitloud and spread the message of FIRST. In the spirit of making it loud, the objective of each takeover was to mobilize shared followings and enhance reach to support brand and mission awareness.
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.
During our two-week Championship event, FIRST social media efforts garnered 73,133,136 impressions. Of those impressions, Instagram content earned 6,091,467 impressions. The Instagram takeover campaign bolstered larger efforts to increase brand awareness and encourage more people to get involved with FIRST at every level. A decade of verifiable data shows that exposing kids to fun, exciting FIRST programs builds 21st century work skills and greatly increases their motivation to seek education and careers in STEM fields. FIRST students are:
Sponsor takeovers, which were creative, playful, and timely, kept FIRST audiences excited and engaged throughout the two-week event. The average engagement rate of the takeover content was 16.2%. This engagement rate is high by industry standards, and comparable to the high engagement rates that regular FIRST content on Instagram typically sees.
The companies that participated also saw success. 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
Each company executed takeovers that were brimming with personality, playfulness, and – above all – passion for the FIRST mission.