“Win a $100 dollars just by being the first one to find a stranger at a Philadelphia landmark!”
The above sentence alone has captured the eyes of many – myself included – and has piqued the interest of social media users all across the region.
I heard about Find Me Philly earlier this month on Twitter. Interested yet skeptical, I started following him on Twitter, Vine and Instagram. Each day he would release a short video and an image of where he was – along with a timer that would count down from 13 minutes.
Over the past month, Find Me Philly has exploded on social media. How did he find such success on different platforms in under a month? His campaign – whether intentional or not – strictly lives on social media. Users must go to his pages to get information on his whereabouts. To increase the likelihood of winning, you’re encouraged to follow him and subscribe to get immediate notice of his posting. Find Me Philly uses consistent hashtags and communicates with his followers, creating a strong, engaging community. After many videos and pictures populated the social-sphere, buzz surrounding Find Me Philly was everywhere, making it nearly impossible to ignore.
On February 12 around 4pm, Find Me Philly posted a new video. After watching the six-second Vine, I knew exactly where he was – only 4 blocks away. I threw on my jacket and ran down Walnut Street in the freezing cold. When I arrived at the location (Jefferson courtyard at 10th and Locust), I noticed a man sitting on a bench. Out of breathe and shaken up, I approached him asking if he was the mysterious man behind Find Me Philly. He confirmed, gave me a $100 bill, asked me what I planned on doing with the money and took my photo and video.
You can see my super embarrassingly awkward video on Instagram.
After all that, we got to talking and I told him I’ve been monitoring him for some time (in my defense, it’s part of my job!). I asked if I could interview him to get a better understanding of what he is trying to accomplish. He said yes, but kindly requested to remain anonymous – and to make note that this is about giving back, NOT him.
Craig Beyerle: What started this idea?
Find Me Philly: I made a New Year’s resolution to myself that I would stop watching countless hours of T.V. and start doing good. I had this idea to post a photo on Instagram and whoever the first person to find me would get $100 bill. Kind of Willy Wonka/golden ticket style.
CB: Are you from the area? Why do you feel connected to Philly?
FMP: Grew up in the city, went to school in the city and now reside in the area. I’m a huge fan of all things Philly – sports, the city, the people, and I want everyone to know what an amazing community we have. The best thing about Find Me Philly is that it’s almost a lesson about your city – there are so many locations, statues and other landmarks that continuously go unnoticed.
CB: Right, we are the fourth largest city in the country! When you present a winner with a $100 bill, how does that make you feel? What has their reaction been?
FMP: It’s an amazing feeling to present a total stranger a $100 bill! Most winners are in disbelief – thinking it’s not real or something. One woman who won went out and bought pizza for the homeless. It’s incredible to see what people do with the money – I love hearing their stories.
CB: What do you think this sort of initiative will do for the city?
FMP: I think it will get people talking about how they can give back. I know I’m giving back money, but there are so many other options. I think it will create conversation and reiterate the importance of giving to others.
CB: According to your website, you started this on January 17. Is there an end in sight? Or do you have plans to keep the momentum going?
FMP: I originally started this out to be a 30-day concept – which is coming up soon, but I’m not rolling in the dough that much. It would be nice to figure out a way to keep this going! It seems to really be taking off.
CB: You’re currently active on Twitter, Instagram and Vine. Do you plan to venture onto other social platforms?
FMP: YouTube for sure! You definitely will not see me on Facebook, never really been a fan.
CB: What social platform have you received the most engaged audience on?
FMP: Twitter for sure, but I have over 2,000 followers on Instagram.
CB: Without social media, do you think this campaign would be possible?
FMP: Looking back to maybe five years ago, I’m not sure if this would have the instant impact it does now. Social media has allowed my mission to become a viral sensation – and quick.
CB: If someone wants to get involved in the cause – how can they?
FMP: Send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Find Me Philly hopes to continue doing this for as long as he can, but made it clear that he can’t do this by himself forever. He hopes to remind everyone the importance of giving back – whether it’s to charity or the homeless men and women in our city. To see the full list of winners and locations, visit here.
Still want to know who the mystery donor is? Well, that’s a secret I’ll never tell. Xoxo CB.