The ultimate social media CV?

Three Auburn University students have created ‘Operation Hug Taylor Swift’ which I think is one of the best social media ‘campaigns’ I’ve seen. Why? It had a specific objective and it achieved it.

Michael Wekall, Ryan Leander and Matthew Mahaffey had a simple mission "Do whatever it takes to wrap our arms around Taylor Swift."

In January they started by building a website with their favourite quote "I’ve always been a hugger… If we all hugged more, the world would be a better place."

They then just started doing more – t-shirts, funny videos. Facebook, Twitter, their blog, YouTube and not forgetting good, old mainstream media. They kept slogging away from almost three months, creating some great content.

And then, in March Taylor Swift, suddenly responded. Not so say ‘yeah guys you can have a hug’ or to give them the brush-off. No, she decided to play their game and take it all to a new height – creating fantastic attention for he and our three guys from Auburn.

Taylor recorded a video on her website saying that she doesn’t give hugs away easily and that they’d have to earn them by completing a series of challenges.


The challenges, which she wanted to documented on YouYube videos, were:

  1. Help a little old lady across the street.
  2. Use the number 13 in a creative way
  3. Wait for an email on Monday at 12:30pm

It wasn’t just the guys from Auburn that responded. Hundreds of Taylor Swift fans around the country started sending them their videos and photos. Michael, Ryan and Matthew edited them into funny videos.

When the email arrived it told them to get to Auburn University Hotel and get as many students as they could to create the world’s biggest karaoke sing-a-long. After 30 minutes of karaoke, Taylor appeared on the giant video screen with a personal message for the guys "Wow, I really wish that I was there to see that. I really wish that I was there right now. Wait, I have an idea…"

And then Taylor appeared on stage to give each of the guys a hug, or two…


Michael Wekall, Ryan Leander and Matthew Mahaffey that’s one great online portfolio you’ve just created for yourselves. Excellent use of public relations, social media, social networks and word of mouth marketing.

Hat-tip to Tom Murphy and Robert French.