Great Social Media Idea: Hashtag Your Location Tag!

Howdy friends!

A quicky but a goody today, courtesy of the ace Instagrammers at Cal Berkeley:

Notice how they are promoting a hashtag in the locaation tag section at the top?

Maybe I've totally missed the boat on this, but that was the first time I'd noticed a brand doing that on Instagram, and I think it's a pretty clever idea. Sometimes you definitely do want to use the location tag - I'm a big fan of using the location search when finding pics to like, comment on, and crowdsource - but sometimes it's unnecessary, and I think it's super smart to use it for a quick call-to-action for people to use a specific hashtag, particularly a newly created one or one that hasn't quite gained yet.

For my work at University of Portland, the hashtag #UP is totally worthless because of endless "#turned #up" posts, so I have tried for years to push people to the shorter #uportland than the much longer (and easier to mis-spell on a smartphone) #universityofportland. It's been pretty tough sledding, and I've been looking for a quick and easy way to gently remind people about #uportland without having to type it into the caption every time. So, this idea from Cal came across at the perfect time, and - best of all - it remembers the location once you create it, so you don't have to type it in every time. Hooray!

Thanks for the tip, Cal!

Great Social Media Idea: National Squirrel Day

Hello, faithful readers!

Here's a fun little idea from University of Washington that you've still got time to implement for your college later this week, in case, you know, you're into brazenly stealing ideas from other schools... which I am. (I'd appreciate it if you read that last bit in Inigo Montoya's accent.)

If your college is anything like mine, squirrels are all the rage - particularly on Instagram. A student run account at UP that features pics of squirrels on campus is, I'm pretty sure, the third-most followed UP-affiliated Instagram page (after the official ones for the school and the athletic department), which is either funny or sad, depending on your perspective.

Anyway, UW is hitching its wagon to the star that is squirrels on Instagram with this National Squirrel Day contest.

It's funny, it's silly, and it's the type of light-hearted fare that will definitely be successful in social. 

Some might question the value of spending time on these types of promotions, but that is short-sided, I think. People typically are on social media when they've got some time to kill - they are looking to be entertained, to have a laugh or two, to catch up with friends, etc. Unlike the internet, social media marketing doesn't always have to be serious business.

This is exactly the type of thing that students will enjoy taking part in and alumni will probably get a kick out of too, and hey - if it helps raise awareness about your Instagram account and leaves people with a positive feeling about your college, it's a total win in my book.

So yes... a UP version of this is likely in the next day or two.  :)

Good job, Huskies!

Best Higher Ed Social Media Ideas of 2014

As promised, here is a run down of my favorite social media ideas from colleges and universities that I saw in 2014.

Great big 'ole caveat: Though I follow hundreds of colleges on social media, of course I missed way more posts than I saw, so this is most certainly an incomplete list. Please comment with additional examples you would like to share!

Enjoy, be inspired, and if you would like more articles like this, you can follow this blog on Facebook and you can follow me on Twitter.

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Professors Read Mean Reviews - Lehigh University

Inspired by Jimmy Kimmel's "Celebrities Read Mean Tweets" segments, Lehigh had the brilliant idea of having professors read some not-so-favorable reviews from A brilliant idea brilliantly executed. Original post.


Beaver Nation - Oregon State University

We are all dealing with the cold reality of Facebook's algorithm changes - either post content that people want to engage with, or no one will see it. Period. Which makes anything that feels like branding or a commercial a pretty dicey situation.

Oregon State's "Beaver Nation" campaign is a great response to this - a way, to paraphrase Marie Antoinette, to have your reach and enhance your brand too - involving a series of profiles and videos of alumni/students/faculty who are are doing great things and have really compelling stories. Original post.


Bluff Boxes - University of Portland

My blog, my rules. Which is why I'm including one of my projects. But I promise it's a good one!

Together with some fabulous co-workers, I recently completed a campaign - check out the Bluff Box website for more details and a fun stop-motion video that I worked pretty darn hard on - where we invited alumni to send a small care package to their old dorm room.

It was promoted solely through social media, and more than 200 alumni took part. It was great at getting young alumni to give back in a small but meaningful way, and it had the added benefit of current students feeling the love from alumni and (hopefully) planting the seeds for them giving back one day. Original post.


Hand-Delivered Acceptance Letters - Marquette University

One of my all-time favorite ideas, and one that other colleges have put their own spin on - notably Butler University, who sent their mascot (a real bulldog!) Butler Blue III on a road trip to personally deliver some acceptance letters, which of course was live-tweeted. Original post.


Say Something Nice - University of New Hampshire

I can't help but be a sucker for "art project" experiments like this. Stuff that is unexpected, different, fun, fresh, unique, clever, creative - pick your adjective! - and makes people feel better about themselves for having participated in it and/or watched the results.

 This is the type of video that would be a welcome addition to anyone's social media feed, not just people who are connected to UNH. (Which, of course, is the secret sauce to making any #hesm video go "viral.") Original post.


"Humans of" Pages - Cornell University and UCLA

Inspired by the mega-popular Humans of New York and its many copycat pages, some students at Cornell and UCLA created a college-focused "Humans of" page that offer really fabulous windows into the unique cultures of their respective colleges and the people that make them special. Original post.


Golf Cart Memories - Georgetown University

During reunion weekend, Georgetown had the great idea of giving alumni rides in a golfcart and having them tell stories on camera. Original post.


Anatomy of a Crazie - Duke University

Duke shows what you can do if you give fans the same type of hyped-up promotion that athletes typically get. A really fun way to show off and reward school pride! Original post.


When the Students are Away, the President Will Play - Truman State University

A really clever video from Truman State University, perfectly tailored to the winter break period that is typically deadsville for higher ed social media. Original post.


Graduation Tweet-to-screen - Minnesota State-Moorhead

Minnesota State-Moorhead went full bore with integrating social media into commencement with a screen that showed (curated!) live tweets. Pretty darn awesome... I have no idea how they convinced the academic side to allow it.  :)  Original post.


An integrated campaign - Humboldt State University

When used for marketing, social media is always strongest when it works in conjunction with other pieces, like this fantastic video from Humboldt State. Be sure to check out this website for the full effect of this video in conjunction with a photo gallery and a feature story. This is pretty much the dream scenario when you can make it happen - video, photo, and text all together in one place, and easily usable on the website, on social media, as a press release, and in a variety of print publications. Beautiful. Original post.


Georgetown Stories - Georgetown University

You should definitely poke around the website to read up on the project, but in a nutshell - Georgetown is following 11 students throughout the year and will be telling their story through a multimedia presentation of videos, vlogs, social media, photos, etc. It's a full-on documentation of the lives of everyday students, and it's really, really freaking cool. Original post.


Finals Week Encouragement - Flagler College

Flagler invited alumni to give words of encouragement on its Facebook page, and then they took all the comments, printed them, and put them up all over the library during finals week. I always love it when a social media project can go from online to offline, and I particularly love it when you can actually show people that their engagement on social media leads to real, tangible results for students. Original post.


Outcomes Infographic - Smith College

With student debt at record highs, job prospects for young people still lagging far behind the economic recovery, and the rise of MOOCs, colleges have to do a lot more to prove that attending college is still worth it. 

This is crucial work for everyone working in higher ed marketing, and Smith College offered a terrific example of a way to present this information in a fun, informational, and engaging way. Original post.


Puppy Instagram Takeover - Ithaca College

We all know that animals rule the internet, but it's not always easy to find ways to feature them in higher ed. (Great examples here and here.) So when you've got an awesome club that is totally worth highlighting that just so happens to involve cute puppies? Well, that's social media GOLD! Original post.


Meet the Class of 2014 - George Fox University

Soon after graduation, George Fox created short bio pages featuring dozens of new alumni. Content like this is great because it's so versatile. While I'm sure it was not easy to get so many students to respond to the Q&A's (getting a student to respond to an email is pretty much the equivalent of finding a $20 bill in a jacket pocket: wonderful and so unexpected when it happens!), now they have a treasure-trove of good stuff that can be used from social media to admissions to fundraising. Original post.


Profile of a Beloved Staff Member - Creighton UNIVERSITY

In just a few short minutes, you can see so clearly that this man represents everything Creighton hopes to sell prospective students on - this is a place where you'll be cared for, where you matter, where people know your name, where you're not just a face in the crowd, etc. Watch this, and you get a real sense of the community of that place and the people that exist within it. And not only is the messaging wonderful, but it's a lovely bit of film making too. Original post.


Footprints in the Quad - University of Michigan

Somewhere on its campus, University of Michigan painted footprints emblazoned with the logo on the sidewalk. I love small, silly, unexpected things like this, and I think it's really smart given our current culture of always being on the lookout for something cool to share on social media. Ever since Instagram came along, I definitely find myself looking for funny/interesting/unique/surprising things any time I am walking around campus or around the city, and I can only imagine what I would do if I stumbled across something like this on my own college campus. Original post.


engaging parents - western washington university

From Matthew Anderson, who implemented this idea at WWU: “This isn’t what I would call a clever or time-consuming idea, but I love it for its simplicity. I’m a firm believer in the drip, drip, drip value of social media — that our brand image comprises not several major campaigns but rather the culmination of many small interactions and responses with our communities — and this, at least to me, is in line with that.” 100% agree. Original post.


Graduation video... about shoes - Bates College

Graduation videos can be pretty rote - students saying thank you, a walk across a stage and a handshake, hats being tossed, proud parents - can have life breathed into it by, as dear old Dickinson would say, telling all the truth but telling it slant - but Bates College put a fun spin on the standard grad video by asking grads about the shoes they decided to wear on the big day. Original post.


Faculty Selfies - Green Mountain College

Green Mountain College asked several faculty members to take selfies, and they got some brilliant, hilarious results. There's something fabulously joyful about this series of photos that shows professors with cats and professors with toothpaste in their beards and professors who cut their faces while fishing. 

It makes them seem so real and so personable, and you really can get a better feel for the true personality of a professor in a goofy selfie than a serious posed shot in a lab or whatever. Original post.


Dead week coffee delivery - university of portland

Yes, yes... another one of my projects. So sue me.  :)  Finals week is a tough time on campus, and students are super stressed out. So why not bring some joy and brightness into their lives with a spontaneous coffee delivery? A little act of kindness like this can go a long way, and it's little things like this that students will remember long after they graduate. Original post.

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Here's to a great 2015, everyone!

Again, please comment with things I missed (believe me, I know I missed a lot of great ideas), and if you would like more articles like this, you can follow this blog on Facebook and you can follow me on Twitter.

Great Social Media Idea: Promoting a Rivalry Game

Every now and then I get a submission in my inbox that clarifies so distinctly that there are countless other people in this world that would be infinitely better at writing this blog than me.

A few weeks ago, Lindsay Lebresco from Lehigh University submitted such a post.

Read, enjoy, and think wistfully about what this blog could be if someone who knew what they were doing were in charge!  :)

(Also - apologies for the slow post schedule this week... girlfriend just got back from Hawaii and it was my mom's birthday... and I'm perpetually lazy.)

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Last month, Lehigh University & Lafayette College met, in Yankee Stadium, for the 150th playing of our football rivalry. This is actually the MOST played college football rivalry in the US. In University Communications (at Lehigh) we spent the better part of a year preparing for The Rivalry. We created a ton of content (a lot of videos!), promoted the historical game, increased engagement of the Lehigh community around the game and drove national awareness of Lehigh as an institution. We wanted to hit this from all angles so all mediums were tapped. Here are four of those (non-video) examples:

- College GameDay: We REEEAALLLY wanted ESPN College GameDay to come to Yankee Stadium and cover our game. We knew it was a long shot but we went for it anyway. Since the start of the football season, we engaged Lehigh alums who lived close to the schools where College GameDay would be shooting from and got them to wave the Lehigh flag. This was a real grassroots effort and we were able to wave the (large) Lehing flag at 13 consecutive games. Alas, College GameDay chose to cover Harvard-Yale instead of ours, but we got very close to being chosen. (Proof.) Here is the page we created to track our #GameDayforRivalry150 flag waving efforts.

- Rivalry in Peeps: Because the rivalry game was being played this year on neutral territory (only the 2nd time of 150 games!), we wanted to somehow bring the Lehigh Valley (where our schools are located) to New York. Our campus is just two miles from Just Born, Inc- the famous maker of Peeps! In order to pay homage to our PA roots while in NYC (and complete a fantasy project that I've always wanted to do!) we created a Peeps diorama depicting The Rivalry. Our students came through with some fabulous designs including a 3D printed version of Yankee Stadium's iconic facade. We thought the whole thing turned out pretty sweet (pun intended). Pics from our university Tumblr. And for another pun - people absolutely ATE IT UP. 


- Game Locker App: We wanted to incorporate some academic aspects of our universities into the promotion of the game, so we tapped a student group here at Lehigh to put together a game app. that pitted Lehigh against Lafayette in the digital world. The students did an amazing job (mostly between 10pm and 3am apparently) and it was a great collaboration between our computer engineers and design students with a great result. (Here's a university story about it.) 

- Mascot Monday: Building off an already existing hashtag in Twitter & sports, we created "Mascot Monday" in coordination with Lafayette College which followed our Mascots in their "training" for the big game in New York. For four weeks, every Monday at 3:00pm we launched into a #MascotMonday banter between our school Twitter accounts (@LehighU and @LafCol) bragging and/or making fun of each other and referencing the Mascot video that would be released that day. Honestly, the banter portion on Twitter fell pretty flat but the Mascot videos were played on the jumbotron at the game and were a huge hit with attendees. The Mascot videos are tucked in the Rivalry150 playlist here.

- Storify: We felt a useful way to currate all the content that was created and feature some of the great media hits we received was to create a storify pulling all of the pieces together. We only sent it out to internal audiences as a recap of the work that was done in University Communications around the game, but in general, it paints a good, overall picture of the year The Rivalry took over Lehigh and Lafayette.

Oh and small detail... we lost :( 

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Incredible, stuff, Lindsay... that Peeps idea is probably the greatest thing I've ever seen.

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your ideas and experiences executing this campaign. So much of what we do is more than just a collection of single posts... building momentum toward an event on social media can be extremely difficult, and this is a great example of how you can tackle it from multiple angles and in many creative ways.

Job very well done, Lehigh and Lafayette!

Happy New Year! And, a Great Winter Break Video

Happy New Year, everyone! My Christmas hiatus from the blog is officially over, and I'm ready to get cracking on semi-regular posting of best practices, great ideas, and the latest trends from the world of higher ed. You know, if I actually get around to it.

I'm actually working on a "Best of 2014" list right now, which is - naturally, ee, ee, ee - going to be fabulous, but in the meantime I've got a handful of suggestions in my inbox that I'm going to post over the next few days.

One of the things that always makes me happy is when ideas from this blog actually translate into successful projects for other schools - it shows me that this blog actually has a purpose, something I tend do doubt from time to time since it's such a hyper niche audience.

So when this great video from Green Mountain College popped up in my inbox - which was inspired by this truly delightful video from Regis University that I posted about last year - I knew I had to share it.

I always enjoy these "when the students are away, the president will play" videos, but there's something extra lovable about the sweetness that comes through here and in Regis' video, where of course there is humor but there also is some real pathos... I think it comes through pretty clear that the students are indeed missed.

Job well done, Green Mountain College, and I'm so glad to see that your community responded positively to this video idea that you spotted here on SMFC. Makes me feel good about myself, which is not an easy thing to do when the year is now 2015 and I'm staring down the barrel of my (gulp) 15th high school reunion. Sheesh.

Great Social Media Idea: Timelapse Art on Instagram

What's up party people? Came across this fun Instagram post from University of San Francisco today, and I thought I would share it with ya'll.

Probably more than any other school I follow, USF features LOTS of students and crowd-sourced content on its social media platforms. It's a different approach that I am not quite brave enough to do myself but which can be very refreshing to see when you're following a bunch of other pages that tend to hit the same #branding beats.

Anyway, this example showcases a talented student drawing a cartoon, which works perfectly for Instagram video. (In case you haven't noticed, Instagram video is pretty much terrible for anything other than very visual, creative things that don't require audio and don't have people in them.)

If nothing else, posts like this are a good reminder that you can't always expect stuff to fall into your lap when you crowdsource... sometimes you have to do a bit of digging and hustling to find he *best* stuff rather than the easiest stuff that people are kind enough to tag for you. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

If there's one thing I'm thankful for, it's that now I can add paper cutout animation and shark voiceover acting to my LinkedIn profile. (Yes, this may be the most ridiculous Thanksgiving video produced by a college this year, a fact I'm quite proud of.)