Great Social Media Idea: Graduation GoPro

Hello dear readers! I'm back from lovely Maui... a little bit tanner, and a lot bit in love with shave ice. (Seriously - why is there not a shave ice stand on every street corner in American? Some things I'll just never understand.)

I've got quite a few ideas in the suggestion box (thanks for sending them in, everyone!), so I'm going to post several of them this week. First up, a fun GoPro graduation video from my high school buddy (Go Falcons!) Travis McGuire at Linfield College:

Here’s an idea for the blog. We’re always looking for new ways to incorporate video from Linfield’s Commencement ceremony. This year, we decided to unleash a GoPro as our grads entered the Commencement Green with a note that said, “The GoPro is recording. Smile and pass it along. #Linfield15.” The grads seemed to enjoy it. Here’s the video. Enjoy!

Really love the idea of just passing around a GoPro and seeing what you get... I've had a lot of success doing that with disposable cameras (see here and here), and a GoPro brings it to another level with the video component. Nice one, Travis!

Want to share a graduation idea to feature on the blog? Use the "Submit Idea" box to the right!

Gone Fishin'... in Hawaii

Sorry friends... the blog is going to be shut down til at least next Wednesday - I'm heading off to Maui for a week for my dear friend and former college roommate's wedding.

I'll be back blogging soon, but until then... aloha!  :)

Great Social Media Idea: Fun Alumni Picture

Quick post today, but I really wanted to share something I spotted on Millsaps College's Instagram page the other day: This super fun picture from an alumni event!

It's a pic of the youngest and oldest alumni in attendance, and I couldn't help but smile when I saw it.

This is a simple idea, but it's a really fun one and an easy way to show some school history and heritage. It's definitely something I'd love to do at the next big UP alumni event... I'm already smiling at the idea of pairing a fresh-faced 2015 grad with a lovely 1950 alum.

OK... quick post as promised. Thanks for the fun idea, Millsaps!


Great Social Media Idea: Snapchat for Admissions

Hello! Is it me you're looking for? With my lack of posting this week, I bet you've been wondering where I am and wondering what I'm doing, but please... no need to sculpt my head in clay.

Fact of the matter is, I'm still recovering from Saturday, when RiKickulous - my kickball team (yes, I'm one of those *really* cool people who plays on an adult kickball team) - made a glorious, if unexpected, run into the semifinals of our league's spring tournament. It was pretty darn awesome and we nearly made the championship game (1-0 loss... tragic), but my body needed way more time than I care to admit to fully recover. That, or I've just been lazy. (Hint... it's the latter, though the former is also sad but true.)

ANYWAY... I've got a nice stack of idea in my suggestion box, and I'm happy to start sharing them. First up is Texas Tech University's use of Snapchat for admissions.

Really you should just read this article to get a full understanding of what Texas Tech is doing, but in a nutshell - they asked admitted students to send them a selfie via Snapchat, and they returned the selfia (again, via Snapchat) with some Texas Tech school spirit graphics added on.

Here's a choice quote from the article:

Jamie Hansard, director of recruitment and marketing for Undergraduate Admissions, said the department’s goal was to engage admitted students in a fun, interactive way, encouraging them to enroll at Texas Tech for the fall. Social media provides a better forum for such interaction than emails or letters.

“While we send multiple communications throughout the recruitment cycle, this campaign is sent to students at the end of the recruitment year to capture their enthusiasm,” she said. “Although social media continues to evolve and we utilize most social media platforms, Snapchat is the most popular with this class.”

It also gave admitted students a chance to interact with potential classmates, find roommates and learn about students who will be part of the Class of 2019. This makes students feel more a part of the university before setting foot on campus.

I have definitely found that - more and more - admitted students are looking to connect with each other prior to coming to campus as freshman. I was particularly amazed by a thread in the UP admitted student Facebook group (totally organized by the students, by the way... not me), in which someone asked for people to share their Instagram profiles and something like 50-75 students readily did so. Not to mention the now daily introductory posts that are happening in that group ("Hi, I'm Joe from Portland, I like baseball, Prince, Dr. Pepper, and occasionally posting on my lame blog about social media use in higher ed." etc etc). 

Seeing all of that happening on Facebook and Instagram, I'm very interested to hear someone say that Snapchat has been the most popular way to connect with admitted students. Makes me think that my long reluctance to launch a UP Snapchat account - mainly for bandwidth issues (social media isn't a full-time gig for me), but also partly because I'm old and this modern world frightens and confuses me - is going to necessarily come to an end very soon. I can only bear missing out on such a big opportunity for so long, and clearly Snapchat has entrenched itself and isn't going anywhere any time soon.

Great stuff, Texas Tech!




Great Social Media Idea: Instagram Wall Calendar

Just like everything else I'm going to post this week, this is a project I did over the past month. My blog, my rules. (That, and I'm too lazy to build up a queue of better ideas from other colleges at the moment... still a bit hungover from the craziness of the past few weeks.) 

I'm not really sure what to call this idea, but "Instagram Wall Calendar" seems to be close enough. What it really is is a curated collection of the several thousand photos students tagged with the various UP-related hashtags during the 2014-15 academic year, set into a really killer design, and put up in the main entrance of our campus library like a great big art instillation. Check it out (click the photos below to see more):

There is a small "gallery" text placard to the left of the display explaining that each arrow represents a month of the year. (Starting with August in the top left and ending with April in the lower left... we merged December and January into one arrow due to Christmas break.) You really can get a neat and powerful sense of the year and the passing of time, with pics of the weather, the changing colors, and the various athletic games and campus events. Naturally, the placard also encourages students to use the UP hashtags and follow the school on Instagram, because, you know... marketing.

To pull this off, we used an amazingly helpful program called odrive that allows you - among many other things - to bulk download photos from Instagram tagged with a particular hashtag. This saved us a ton of time, and though it has a little bit of a learning curve to set up, I couldn't recommend it highly enough if you find yourself in a position where you need to download a lot of pics from Instagram. It's super awesome.

Then my fantastic student worker Sammy went through all the pics - So. Many. Pics. - and chose the best ones from each month. (Did I mention that odrive automatically includes the original upload date in the file names? Because it does. Which was also incredibly helpful.) Then, they got placed into the design we chose and printed with great care and expertise - I wish I understood better the process it took to get the full color front, opaque white, and gray backs onto one piece of vinyl - and installed.

I love the concept, I love how it looks in person, and I particularly love how it fits in so naturally with the architecture on the back side, where the gray boxes and arrows look like they've always belonged. My vision all along was to make something more like an art installation and less like a social media project, and I feel like we were able to accomplish that.

The one disappointing thing about this project was that it got delayed a few weeks by circumstances out of my control (design and production, natch) and only got installed the day that students were moving out of the dorms. Insert huge sad face here. But the seniors and their families had a chance to see it before graduation, and the library has graciously agreed to leave it up through the start of the next school year, so the students will definitely get lots of chances to see it. Still, my dream of having it up in the main entrance of the library during its two most heavily trafficked weeks - dead week and finals week - didn't pan out. Which was very frustrating.

But it doesn't prevent me from being proud of how it turned out and excited for all the students to discover it throughout the summer and at the start of the next school year.

Hope you all enjoy this one... I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff from me!  :)

Gone Fishin'

Sorry folks... starting to feel the end-of-the-year pinch at work, which means less time for the bloggity blog. I'll try my best to post a few times a week between now and graduation on May 3, but no promises, OK? OK!

The other day I tried to escape all the work by cleverly hiding in a big box...

... but alas - videos don't edit themselves, major campus-wide events don't plan themselves, and kick-ass end-of-year social media/art installation projects don't create themselves. (At least, they are kick-ass in my hopes and dreams.)

Catch ya'll on the flip side!

Great Social Media Idea: Weekly Instagram Challenge

Quick post today... my girlfriend and I only have one episode left in season two of The Bletchley Circle, and if we don't get it started by 9PM I'm going to be in big trouble. Can't risk any of that beauty sleep!

So check out these fun weekly Instagram challenges Illinois State University has been doing:

All the submissions are tagged with #RedBirds2015, with at least some of the weekly challenges offering a chance to win some school gear.

Anyone working in social media knows there are some real challenges crowd-sourcing photos from Instagram - particularly among college-aged kids - because so many of them have their accounts protected for privacy. I don't have any hard stats on this, but sometimes when I've done a unique hashtag I can sometimes see only 30% or so of the photos that actually get uploaded, which can be really frustrating.

However, that doesn't mean you can't get good stuff still, so big props to Illinois State for doing creating opportunities to have some fun with Instagram and crowdsource some great pics.


Great Social Media Idea: Research Video Done Right

Hello and happy Thursday, all you wonderful higher ed social media folks!

I am very excited to share this fantastic video from George Mason University, highlighting some very cool research by two engineering students:

An action-packed video featuring flames, faculty talk, and smart students, all in under a minute? Perfection.

Not to mention a video like this is perfectly built for social media sharing, unlike most faculty/research-focused videos that feature lots of talking heads and, very likely, slider shots of beakers. So many beakers. Beakers on beakers. And maybe a professor and a student pointing at a computer screen.

I should mention that I didn't come across this on George Mason's social media sites. Instead, it was on the first page of Reddit the other day, proof positive that it was a cool enough video to get lots and lots of upvotes - and views... it's almost at 500,000 now - from the internet's hivemind. 

Big ups to George Mason and these very bright students for this awesome video!