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How social media got our wolf back

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About two weeks ago our true size wolf statue got stolen from the hallway of our office. Social media and the local newspaper got it back for us. It seems social media can be powerful.

Good to know: I’m not a big believer in promoting your business on social media for the sake of promoting and I definitely don’t want to position myself as someone who knows how the dynamics of social media work. It just accidentally worked out this time. Some companies seem really good at it though, like KLM or the Dollar Shave Club.

The story started in the beautiful city of Groningen during the largest student introduction week of the country, the KEI-week. Our office is located in the center of the city, and pretty much in the middle of the party district. During this week its party time for pretty much all 50k students in town.

The introduction started Monday evening. Tuesday morning our statue was gone. No signs of intrusion could be detected. Other stuff was still there. The wolf was located in our hallway, so probably the front-door wasn’t closed properly. Fortunately there is another door between the hallway and our office, so if you enter, you can’t go far.

Why would anyone take a wolf statue? Because it is, wait, he is damn cool! You’re walking around town slightly tipsy, you accidentally discover an open door and you’re too curious to not peek inside for a second. And there it is: an awesome wolf statue, a trophy. It fits perfectly in your room. So, you take it under your arm and rush out. I can’t blame you.

But, unfortunately for you, we wanted it back. Not because its valuable, but because it was pretty hard to obtain in the first place. What could we do? We needed more people to look out for the black wolf. The most simple and straightforward solution was social media.

We posted a message on Facebook and on twitter declaring a wolf hunt and mentioned we we’re looking out for a black wolf. The golden tip: a few crates of the delicious Belgian Wolf beer. The message got shared around 170 times.

The day after we received a first tip. A boy and girl were seen on the streets with the wolf walking in a certain direction. We updated the hunt accordingly, but the next days it stayed silent. We lost hope. Until Thursday the week after. The local newspaper Dagblad van het Noorden called us after reading one of the shared messages on Twitter. They wanted to post an article about the wolf in their Saturday edition. The article got the title: ‘Hunt on black wolf in down town area’. See the Dutch article below.

The next Monday morning, just half an hour after I red the article for the first time, a van of Cruon Security drove in front of our office. The guy inside opened his doors and there he was. Our wolf. The security guard found the wolf in a student house during a regular check in the area that was pointed out in the Facebook tip. He red the article in the newspaper, recognised the wolf, took it and brought it home. Thanks to the internet, our wolf is back.

Eventually it got us a lot of attention and we learned a lesson. I asked people why they shared. Their answer: it was a fun post. The wolf hunt, the Wolf beer as an award. It got the attention. Some people even thought it was an PR stunt.

What did we learn? The stuff you post on social media needs to be interesting. It needs to be human, not boring (we are guilty for posting boring messages too). It needs to be something people can comply with. It is only then that even people you don’t know will share your message too.

To everybody who shared: thank you! We got him back thanks to you.

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