At the beginning of the semester, Emerson’s Social Media Class—known best by the hashtag #ESM—set their sights on two big-name Boston celebrities: Mark Wahlberg and Rob Gronkowski. Professor David Gerzof split the class into two teams and challenged the students with making contact. After months of persistent tweeting, and stealing a cardboard Gronk from Dunkin’ Donuts, the real-life Patriots player agreed to come in, making an appearance last night as Emerson’s newest social media professor.
Gronkowski first responded to Gerzof in mid-November, but didn’t make any promises.
Three days after sending that direct message, however, Gronkowski broke his forearm in a game against the Indianapolis Colts. And with an estimated four-to six-week recovery period, how better to spend the time than by swapping social media secrets with Emerson’s savviest students?
Gronkowski has accrued nearly 379,000 Twitter followers, despite admitting to the class, “I don’t know what to tweet. ‘I’m drinking a protein shake?’”
He has grown to use the platform to engage with his fans, however, hosting “Twitter Tuesdays” with his brothers Dan and Chris Gronkowski. The trio gives Gronk Nation the opportunity to tweet questions for them to answer, all while promoting various charities.
“It’s great to interact with fans that way,” Gronkowski said, later calling Twitter his preferred form of social media—the place he receives all his news, whether streaming from CNN or football players from opposing teams.
Yet, when it comes to social media, Gronkowski claimed it’s his younger brother Glenn who’s the savviest, and he encouraged the class to tweet at him:
Gronkowski did acknowledge the persistence of Gerzof’s class, claiming, “Every time I looked at my at mentions, I saw you in it.”
To Emerson senior Sydney Manning, the persistence paid off. “All our hard work, and all the followers we lost [tweeting so much] were worth it,” she said. “Persistence works. Persistence is key.”
Fellow Emerson senior Lauren Cortizo agreed, although she did admit she was initially skeptical that Gronkowski would show. “It took so long to get even the slightest bit of response,” she said. “We sort of lost hope.”
But the students were able to break through the noise. “The fact that they broke through to him and he acknowledged it,” Gerzof said, “that’s amazing.”
The class concocted their own creative hashtags, such as #SpikeOurProf, to garner Gronkowski’s attention. Although they were divided into two separate groups, Gerzof claimed this was still a team effort. “Thirty students learned the power of having a united message, a united voice, and the power that goes along with that,” he said.
Around this time last year, Gerzof’s students were able to lure former Patriots player Chad Ochocinco out to dinner with them. To Gerzof, however, attracting Ochocinco was entirely different. “Ochocinco is a personality,” he admitted. “He already does those crazy things.” Ask any fan to name five New England Patriots players, though, and Gronkowski will likely be the first or second to slide off the tongue. “He’s clearly in high demand.”
Prior to Gronkowski’s arrival, Boloco CEO John Pepper came in to share his social media tips with the class, bringing along with him bags upon bags of free burritos. Gerzof offered one up to Gronkowski, who said it himself: “These things are legit.”
What was also legit is the song Manning, Cortizo and fellow senior Olivia Mullen made just for Gronkowski in a mere 30 minutes before he arrived:
For a closer look at the fun, check out the photos from last night’s class below.