Lessons from the #AprilDeskEscape Challenge

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Kemetia Foley’s story of how an unintentional campaign had a globally positive impact

It all began as a lark. On my first lunchtime walk in April, I decided to take and post some pictures. That night, I launched my #AprilDeskEscape challenge via an uploaded YouTube video. I mean, who doesn’t want a great excuse to get away from their desk??

For the challenge, I encouraged friends, family, and peers to commit to getting away from their desk (hence, the desk escape) at least twice during the work week for a walk of at least thirty minutes in duration. Each day I would try to encourage participants to post pictures or videos and use the hashtag #AprilDeskEscape to be able to capture their posts.

Julia Schmidt, our wonderful peer from Norway had already started a health and wellness initiative, https://www.facebook.com/organizational.health.wellbeing.for.assistants/

Julia and others share their insights on the challenges for assistants to get exercise, eat better, take care of ourselves better. Be sure to LIKE that page! I figured the #AprilDeskEscape challenge fitted right into that initiative and so did Julia. She was one of the first participants to post up pictures! She was great about reminding me to share posts on that page each day.

I participated as well and got some co-workers to walk with me! It is important to take time for myself—step away from the desk and re-center as many days as possible during the work week. There are so many documented benefits to walking, and it can be a catalyst towards more intensive workout regimens.

Here’s what I took away from this unintentional campaign:

1. Benefit to Posting on YouTube

When you start a campaign, it is always beneficial to use video to reach a wider audience. I’m still not keen on creating YouTube videos, but I know they have value. It is a different audience and a different level of exposure.

2. Plan better and pre-schedule

I learned that I needed to schedule time each day to do this right. It takes up more time than you think to implement and follow up on an effort like #AprilDeskEscape. I addressed this in one my blog posts during the challenge month. I realized I had not really anticipated the time that would be needed to post each day, and to create a video each day.

3. Determine the best way to show results

I need to think about how to capture posts from more than one platform. Or, I needed to specify a single social platform for the #AprilDeskEscape. It may have been easier if I had requested posts be upload to a specific social platform.

4. Be certain to measure

I now know, I need to learn a better method for gathering data on how, where, and when #AprilDeskEscape was shared.

5. Always great to connect with more peers

I connected with peers I did not know previously via their posts, pictures, and videos—adding on to my career network.  It also allowed me to reconnect with peers on a more frequent basis!

6. Participation begets participation

Once people started to join in, they invited their co-workers to join them on their walks (Hello, Brenda Jindra!). It turned into a ‘the more, the merrier’ walk!

7. Encouragement

The challenge encouraged people to try new things. Some participants took up vlogging and/or Facebook live to document their #AprilDeskEscape, and for many it was the first time using video!

8. If you build it, they will come!

The challenge created its own micro-community. Participants began to retweet other posts and share comments. In this case, the content sharing for the community spanned the globe reaching assistants in UAE, The Netherlands, South Africa, the UK, and many other countries.

9. Re-set the Mindset

Walking does help clear the brain. Taking pictures of the beautiful things we see around us can assist us with re-setting our mind-talk.

10. Build on that skillset!

I can now take the #AprilDeskEscape challenge to another level by using it to showcase my understanding of social media. I can create an entire portfolio to show how I started this campaign, include all visuals, embed video links, etc. I would then feel comfortable stating that I know how to start a very basic hashtag campaign.

Isn’t it fun when spontaneous approaches to new things = globally positive impact?

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About Author

Kemetia MK Foley is a humorist, storyteller, writer, and trainer. She is fierce, funny and phenomenal – energetically delivering outstanding professional development courses since 2007. Kemetia has written, developed, and taught several sections of the Administrative Assistant certificate course for Northern Virginia Community College Workforce Development Division, presented more than 100 training sessions, and traveled internationally providing thoughtful perspectives and approaches to customer service, storytelling, and marketing. Students and delegates frequently comment how much they love her genuine and humorous teaching approach, sharing stories from her own experiences in the workplace. If you are interested in Kemetia training your assistants or speaking at your event, either virtually or in person, please email [email protected]

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