Five Questions With UON Sausage Watch
Yak chats with a legend of the University of Newcastle, UON Sausage Watch, about their role in helping to feed hungry students and campaigning for great sausage sizzles for all.
Yak: What inspired you to start UON Sausage Watch?
Sausage Watch: I created Sausage Watch in 2016 mainly as a bit of joke, but also with the secret hope that it would turn into what it’s become today; which is a pretty cool community of people that like free food (and are pretty passionate about a sausage). And being poor uni students, who doesn’t love free food?
I can’t remember the exact reason I started the page. I think I created it because I kept missing BBQs on campus and I wished there was a way to know about them. So I created Sausage Watch to solve my own problem. It took a while for people to catch on. The plan was for people to find a free BBQ and send it in so it can be shared with everyone, but that system doesn’t work without a decent following. At the start, it was basically just myself posting about a BBQ whenever I saw one. It wasn’t really until mid-2017 that there were enough people following the page, that the page actually worked as I planned. And now that it’s grown way bigger, I actually get swamped with messages whenever there’s a BBQ on.
It’s pretty awesome. But it’s also a fair bit of work. I always reply to every message that gets sent into the page. People are taking time out their day to find my page, and let the people know when there’s BBQs on. And I have a lot of respect for those people because they are the people providing actual value to the page.
Yak: What are some of the challenges involved with running a UON community page?
Sausage Watch: It’s funny that you call it a UON community page, because I never really thought it would become as big as it has. I think the point I realised I had a decent page was about a month ago when one of the legitimate UON Facebook pages (I think it was UON Engineering) tagged Sausage Watch in an announcement post. It’s pretty cool to know that my page that was initially just started for sharing the sausage, is now having a real impact on the university community.
There have been a fair few challenges at different stages with Soss Watch. When I first got it started, the biggest challenge was getting people to like the page. As I said above, without people to send in BBQs the whole concept doesn’t work. I didn’t find any trick to it. It was just organic growth as people tagged their friends in posts.
Once I had enough people to make the page actually work, I then wanted to grow the page even bigger. That was when I decided to start posting more memes (always sausage related) in order to attract more people to the page. And also by posting regularly, rather than only when there’s a BBQ on, meant that my posts showed up in more people’s news feeds, thereby gaining even more traction.
Now that the page has grown so much, the biggest challenge is replying to messages and staying on top of the posts. I think a lot of people think there’s a group of people that run the page, but it’s just little old me. I tend to create a whole bunch of memes when I get a chance and then schedule them to post over the next week or so. That saves me a fair amount of time. But when I’m busy doing something, I might miss a message about a BBQ. If I’m an hour late to post that BBQ, it’s too late. Nobody will be able to get there in time. I have considered getting a second person on board to help with this sort of thing, but I’m not sure if I’ll bother.
Yak: You’ve started sharing more memes and other non-sausage announcements on the page, what can we expect from Sausage Watch in the future?
Sausage Watch: Yeah I’ve done this purely to try and grow the page. People seem to really enjoy the memes and people have started to become very passionate about the sausage. I try to encourage people to send in memes so that its less work for me to create them, and the few that I’ve received have been awesome. The posts have been getting insane reach in the last semester too. Basically every post I put up reaches about 1500 people.
It’s a good feeling that I have some ability to help students out. Whether that’s by telling people about some free food, when they might be really struggling that week, or telling people about parking inspectors. I never intended to post anything other than BBQs on the page, but recently parking inspectors have been a popular thing for people to send in. I’ve had a fair few messages from students that have said that after seeing my parking inspector post, they went and bought a ticket and it saved them getting a fine. So that’s always a good feeling.
In terms of the future, I will be revealing my identity. As this is my final year of uni I need to decide if I’ll keep running the page after I’ve finished or if I’ll pass on the torch to someone else. Maybe I’ll hold tryouts or something. I know that I definitely want the page to continue as people love it so much.
I have a bit of a dream to engage the wider Newcastle community, perhaps working with churches and charities that put on free food. But that would require a whole bunch more work. I really feel like having this simple platform to tell people about free food, provides so much value to students, that it could provide a lot of value to struggling people in the general Newcastle area.
Yak: Who does the best sausage sizzle on campus and why?
Sausage Watch: Biomed society for sure.
But in all seriousness, it’s hard to go past the hardworking NUSA team. They put on so much free food (even veggie food which I’ll get slammed for mentioning) that you can really save a fair bit of money if you use all the free food they have on offer.
I would like to add a protip for anyone hosting a BBQ in the future. The lines are getting longer (partly my fault) and students are waiting forever for a free soss. The reason for this buildup is always in the sauce area. Move the sauce area away from the sausages, and make the table accessible from both sides. This will make the lines run so much quicker.
Yak: How can students get involved with the page?
Sausage Watch: Easiest question yet. ‘Like’ the page.
Then when you see a BBQ, send me a message (preferably with a photo or video as they tend to reach more people). This BBQ can be anywhere; on campus, at a nightclub, a pub, your mates’ backyard, whatever, it’s all good content. Sausage dogs have been a popular submission too.
You can also let me know when you find a parking inspector, or someone’s parked you in, or if your university club is hosting an event that has sausage (I generally won’t post events that don’t have sausage, unless its a charity event), or if you’ve made a killer meme (or even a terrible meme), or if you’re just hating uni and want someone to chat to.
If you’re super broke and want to make sure you never miss a BBQ announcement, make sure you turn notifications ‘on’ at the top of the page.
A huge thanks to UON Sausage Watch for answering our questions and for all they do in tracking down the sausage sizzles on campus. Check out the UON Sausage Watch Facebook page and give it a like if you haven’t already and make sure to send through your tips if you spot a sausage sizzle.
Feature image: Alpha, via Flickr. No changes made.