Celebrate Drupal 8 - how it was done

Photo by @pvishnuvijayan


As with many crazy ideas this all started in a bar. No ordinary bar, this was DrupalCon Barcelona Trivia Night. @BarisW said “so what are you going to do about Drupal 8’s release, we’re relying on you”. I was phased, but it set my mind in motion.

I am one of those people who, when faced with a challenge, believe the impossible is possible. How do I reach every corner of the globe and spread the word of this amazing new Drupal 8 thing? This is the story of how Celebr8D8 came to be, and I didn't do it alone.

Photo: @pvishnuvijayan Bangalore Drupal 8 Release Party.

Why was so driven to this?

Simple. Whilst I have been very fortunate to have attended many DrupalCons, experienced the scale and diversity of the Drupal community first hand, many have not. Many never will. Few have any concept of the global movement which builds the software. It all happens behind closed doors. I wanted to show to the world there are people in every place across the globe involved in Drupal. Of every creed, colour and background. I wanted to to transcend geography, make everyone feel united.

Germinating the ideas

So I decided it would be a interesting project to try and persuade as many people as I could muster, from as broad backgrounds as I could get, to film themselves saying a script about Drupal 8. This could then be edited to feature each person in sequence. The inspiration came from these two pop videos. Cry and Band Aid.

Like most big ideas in Drupal this was going to need help. Enter Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire, Robert Douglass and Campbell Vertesi. A few emails later we had a concept. Then out the blue Campbell suggested Celebr8D8. BOOM! I instantly knew this was the stroke of genius upon which to hand our idea from. Jam and I had skype chats, created obligatory google docs, sent dozens of persuasive emails. In less than 2 days between us we had a concept, script and list of 20+ people willing to take part.

Then out the blue Campbell suggested Celebr8D8. BOOM! I instantly knew this was the stroke of genius

But then I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to make a Drupal 8 site for this film to live on. And how about we secretly approach dozens of people to film themselves talking about what Drupal 8 meant to them. Using Jam’s and my little black books we emailed a large number of Drupal friends and contacts sample videos inviting people to join in.

Meanwhile I twisted a few arms - Amy Leak (Designer), Matt Smith (Developer), Alison Hover (Themer), James Hall (Site Builder) all committed to creating the Drupal 8 site. They were amazing, literally a self managed team who made magic.

It was all coming together, or so I thought. Time was passing and I was becoming anxious. As social media lead for Drupal, I was one of the few people who knew down to the hour when Drupal 8 was coming out. 4 days to go and no crowd sourced videos. I stayed up until the early hours emailing people, persuading them to commit. Slowly the films started to trickle in, then a wave.

Meanwhile, the feature film submissions were coming in thick and fast. Enter Graham Brown (@vaccineMedia), producer of the film. Working into the early hours for several days with little direction he created the film we all saw watched on release day. And then Jam told us he’d had a call to go to Antwerp to meet Dries, with a film crew (thanks Acquia!). Suddenly we an exclusive, the big guy was in. Sometimes I think destiny has a part to play in life, this was one of those days.

And then Jam told us he’d had a call to go to Antwerp to meet Dries, with a film crew (thanks Acquia!). Suddenly we an exclusive, the big guy was in

But how do we get people to know about this site?

So we had an amazing film coming together, a site and dozens of community films flying in from around the globe. But how do we draw an audience? Well if there’s one I’ve learnt in Drupal, if you can inspire the community into action amazing things happen. So I set about enabling another mad idea I had - “The social media Mexican wave”.

I thought that if I could contact a person in every country where there is Drupal and ask them to retweet one tweet about our site, at a certain time in their local timezone, we could achieve something interesting. Chasing the sun around the globe, a steady rhythm of retweets would ripple across the world like the Mexican Waves in 1990’s football crowds.

So I created a webform for people to volunteer, sent a couple of tweets linking to the form and went to bed. In the morning I had a tonne of retweets and more importantly 199 volunteers with a potential reach of 350000 people! Wow! So I emailed the volunteers and primed them with my plan so that come Drupal 8 release day they could support us on social media, give us a boost!

Another secret piece to my social media master plan was to ask people's Twitter username when they submitted films. Whilst moderating each film, I took a screenshot, added it to a scheduled tweet in Hootsuite with a link to the page on our site, and @mentioned the person in the tweet. Doing so would guarantee that person noticed, hopefully was flattered and duly retweeted. Each tweet was carefully primed to go out at the right time, when that person was awake, in their part of the world. Naturally most people retweeted and boosted our impact. (an export of these tweets is available to download below, with stats so you can copy my ideas)

The hashtag #Celebr8D8 was the icing on the cake. The Drupal Association contacted me and we asking what hashtag could be used for the 207 release parties happening around the world. They loved the one we had planned and asked if they could use it too. Well no one owns hashtags, I thought it would be fun and more effective to combine efforts.

So come 9am 19th November 2015 the first tweet announcing the site went out as I slept. Thanks Hootsuite (and many others to follow that day). In New Zealand Josh Waihi’s short film launched the site with a humble tweet, and lit the touch paper of what became a 24 hr period which saw our campaign reach 250,000+ people. The Drupal community really got behind the idea, our films were watched thousands of times, a huge feeling of being connected was achieved.

We were very fortunate to have the full power of Platform.sh, provided for free (thanks Robert Douglass!), so we knew that no matter how busy the site got, it would stay up. I’m sure Platform hardly noticed, but I was pretty stoked when I noticed there were 386 visitors on the site at one moment.

Was it a success?

What started as an idea by one person and a few friends took flight and it felt like the whole world joined us. People from 115 countries in the world came to the site, watched our films. For the 7 hours between 10:00 and 17:00 GMT the site sustained over 200 concurrent users. We supported 7,396 sessions by 5,474 users and 22,061 page views. Not bad for an entirely volunteer team who had less than 2 weeks notice.


222.5K impressions in 3 days. The main announcement Tweet reached 48,042 people with 309 retweets.

Celebr8 Drupal 8 the Film

Graham's headline film was watched 1596 times in 24 hours.

Who's were the most popular films

I know how the Drupal community are so competitive, so these are in popularity order.

  1. Dries and Jam Belgium and NZ
  2. MortendK Denmark
  3. Drupal Association USA
  4. StavrianaNathan
  5. Grienauer Austria
  6. Noah Australia
  7. Net Studio Greece
  8. Lewis and Emma UK
  9. Andrew McPhaerson UK
  10. Amazee Switzerland
  11. @shyam_raj
  12. Steve Purkiss UK
  13. Dave Hall Australia

Stats available below

You will see below more remarkable stats I’ve taken from Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics and Bitly. In the spirit of open source, there is also a spreadsheet with some of the top level stats and some PDF’s you may use and distribute freely under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_Creative_Commons_Attribu...

A huge thank you too ....

All of this makes me very happy. But it would not have been possible without some very special people. I’d like to close by saying a huge thanks to Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire who spent for best part of two weeks helping me pull my mad plan together. Without Jam this would not have been possible, nor as amazing. And to Graham, Matt, Ali, James and Amy for tirelessly working on the film and site!

Let’s do it again some time, but for now, can I have a rest?

In the meantime here are few of my favourite tweets from this very memorable day .....

Following are some of my favourite tweets

With so many to choose from, here are a selection from the tweets I favourited on Twitter.

Drupal Saudi Arabia

Drupal Nigeria

Drupal Bangalore


Yippie.... Glad to see our tweet with D8 Rangoli pic caught eye among loads of D8 tweets/parties :)

Great job !!

Just one small remark, add our country to the video list :) #4 Most popular video from StavrianaNathan is from Cyprus. Cheers

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