In May, I set out on a social experiment.
For those of you who know about geocaching, you know there are trackables. Trackables can be moved or discovered. Personal geocoins — that is, ones people own and don’t set out to move around — are often discovered at events or some other place.
Discovery is interesting because people often do it to collect the icons that come with many coins. Basically, if you look at somebody’s profile on geocaching.com, you can see how many coins they’ve discovered and/or moved along. You also see, for coins and select trackables, the icons that go with the item.
It’s actually kind of cool.
I still discover trackables and, if I see some in a cache, I grab them and move them. I don’t worry about icons, but I do like to know I’ve moved a lot of trackables. I own many and I like them to be traveling.
Coins are a little trickier than items such as travel bugs. Why? Because they are more collectible. When one sets out the actual coin, they will eventually go missing. The more than likely reason for that is because it’s a coin somebody wants to have and decides to steal it.
Crappy? Yes, of course. But it happens.
I have a lot of personal coins. I don’t let them out because they were way too expensive to just let go and eventually disappear. I’ve seen coins get put out and by the time the cache is found next, they are gone. Such a shame.
That being said, I like to see things travel. Therefore, I’ve been releasing proxy travelers. Basically, it’s taking the trackable number and attaching it to something else to let it move along. Sure, it’s not the actual coin. But at least it’s moving around (hopefully), picking up miles and being seen. I also attempt to attach the proxy to something somewhat cool, thus making it not too bad to move along.
Back to the social media experiment.
It’s usually frowned upon to send a coin out in virtual land. I didn’t know what could happen if I did it, but I wondered what would happen if I put a photo of my coin on a social media site. I opened by putting the front of the coin out on Instagram (and having it also publish to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr), and followed that up by putting the back side of the coin out there. The back is where the tracking number is.
When I posted the back photo, I kept it simple. This is the tweet, but it’s what went across all platforms as well:
A little social media experiment with a personal #geocoin. What happens? #geocaching http://t.co/g7IFWAJx0B
— P.J. (@softball29) May 22, 2013
Then it was time to wait and see what happened.
It didn’t take long before things started churning. Discoveries of the coin started coming in, including a lot from Canada. That is something I attribute to caching friend Lloyd, an Ontario-based cacher who shared the post on a few Canadian geocaching Facebook groups.
But Canada wasn’t the only place represented, that’s for sure.
The thing about social media is this — when things start to take off, it can go in several directions. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I’d only get a handful of discoveries or a thousand. Maybe somebody might try to virtually grab it. Maybe people in many countries would discover.
But the idea was to let it take a life of its own to see what social media would do.
What I was really hoping for was when people discovered, they would then tell where they found it. Many people kept within the norms of the game and just noted they discovered. A few said they found it online. But many also posted what social media platform it was discovered on, which is what I really wanted to know.
Now that things have seemed to slow down — even with a recent attempt to see what else would happen by sharing the link on a few social media sites again — I’m ready to take a peek at the results and see how it went.
Let’s remember that these numbers aren’t perfect because I did them by hand and such. Nothing is scientific by any means, more about some curiosity I had.
In the end, there were 89 logs on the coin, not including a couple by me — when the coin was grabbed by somebody (likely accidental) and grabbed back by me!
Here are some numbers to chew on a little.
Those who discovered, and where:
- Not mentioned: 35
- Facebook: 26
- Instagram: 23
- Tumblr: 4
- Twitter: 1
Of the not-mentioned ones, one seemed to be Facebook and one seemed to be Instagram. However, without it being spelled out, I decided to leave them in the not-mentioned group.
The thing I thought was coolest was the breakdown of countries. If a person didn’t have their home country mentioned in their profile, I went based on where the bulk of their placed geocaches were, or if no placed, I went through several pages of finds to make sure they seemed to be at their home base.
With that in mind, there were 14 countries represented, which is really quite cool. The top country was Canada, to which I attribute that to geocaching friend Lloyd, a Canadian who posted it on several Facebook groups in his country.
The breakdown is as follows:
- Canada: 31
- United States: 25
- Germany: 8
- Czech Republic: 4*
- Denmark: 4*
- Norway: 3
- Netherlands: 2
- Sweden: 2
- Switzerland: 2*
- Qatar: 1
- Austria: 1
- Portugal: 1
- Italy: 1
- United Kingdom: 1
Finally, of the numbers, I originally posted it on Instagram and then had it attach to my other social media profiles. From there, I figured it would take on a life of its own, which it somewhat did.
So how many likes did each side of the coin get on Instagram?
- Front: 13
- Back: 21
To end this, let’s check in on a couple of comments and see what people were saying.
One of the early people said:
A beautiful Geocoin, and one I have not seen before, wish the NYGO website was still around. Spotted virtually!
Somebody else likes the idea:
Hi, I discovered your coin on a Facebook site. What a neat idea!
Not that there was a test, but thanks for helping with the experiment!
Discovered on Instagram. Did I pass the test? 🙂
I truly do appreciate those who helped with this experiment:
Participating in your experiment. Thanks for sharing!
Keep the secret alive!
My buddy Binrat showed me this one. Where? Secret…
Discovered in a secret place. Thanks for sharing
Hopefully you are reading this now!
Interested in reading about this experiment on your blog.
Finally, one of my favorite logs came with this as a signature, so I wanted to share it:
That’s pretty neat, right?
Anyway, to sum this all up, I think this was a fun and cool experiment. I’m not sure if I would do it again because I am more about letting people see and discover my coins, but as technology develops and continues to get better, I wanted to see how it went. I ended up being quite happy with the results and thought it was interesting to see comments, whether on the trackable page, through social media or wherever else.
I’d like to thank all who participated in this experiment. Without that help, it would have flopped from the start!
Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!