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Facebook powers cyclist

Muscles, social media and technology were roped in at this year’s Pick n Pay Cape Argus cycle tour. Pick n Pay’s Georgina Muirhead tells SEAN BACHER about how the ‚Like‚ button on Facebook became the fuel for charity.

For the past 22 years, Pick n Pay has used Pick n Pay Cape Argus cycle tour to raise funds for the underprivileged, but this year wanted to get the public more involved. As a result, they geared up with Like Bike, a campaign driven by technology and social media, with a rider ‚fuelled‚ by Likes on Facebook. The campaign, developed by Aqua Online, was a first of its kind and specially designed for the Cape Argus cycle race.

‚SABC’s Expresso presenter, Liezel van der Westhuizen was given a custom made bike, which she used to ride the Cape Argus. But, besides using her muscles to pedal the bike to the finish line, the main form of fuel came from Facebook,‚ says Georgina Muirhead, Pick n Pay’s head of digital strategy.

Georgina Muirhead and Liezel van der Westhuizen

For every ‚like‚ received on the Pick n Pay Facebook page, Liezel would be able to pedal ten metres, and for every ten kilometres ridden, Pick n Pay would donate a bike to the Pick n Pay Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy, which focuses on getting youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds on their bikes and cycling.

‚The idea behind this was to get the public to interact more with the race and at the same time let them see the difference they are making. They were not just helping Liezel complete the race, but were also doing their bit for charity,‚ she continues.

The campaign started two weeks before the race and, in order for Liezel to complete the race, the Pick n Pay Facebook page needed 11 000 likes. ‚Two days before the Cape Argus race began we had reached our target and Liezel had more than enough fuel to complete the 110 kilometre race,‚ she says.

What about the technology?

‚Mounted on the handle bars of Liezel’s bike was an iPad 2, which was connected to a dynamo,‚ continues Muirhead. This enabled her to recharge the iPad while making her way to the finish, and at the same time let Pick n Pay show its commitment to saving the environment.

‚We also had a custom LikeBike app designed that allowed Liezel to read tweets and Facebook messages. Her followers could also interact with her by checking how much fuel she had left and topping her up by clicking on the like button. They could also view how far she had ridden, what her speed was and where her current location was ‚ all the while offering her words of encouragement. Liezel was also able to reply to tweets and messages while resting at water stops along the route.‚

As a result of the success of the Like Bike campaign, a similar initiative will be set up before the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival in July.

* Follow Sean on Twitter on @seanbacher

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