Great Social Media Idea: What's the Last Photo on Your Phone?

It's that time on the blog again where yours truly writes about yours truly. Of course, the total tonnage of great higher ed social media stuff out there could stun a team of oxen in its tracks. (Yeah, I just stole that line from Aaron Sorkin and the West Wing... like a boss!) But why have a blog if I can't write about myself sometimes, right? It's the birthright of every blogger, and - apparently - every GYPSY, the very unfortunately named acronym for my generation. (If you were born when Reagan was president, you are NOT a millennial. Them's the rules.)

And when a video I helped create has gotten 1,200+ views in under 12 hours, well... I'm excited, proud, and ready to brag. Consider this my shiny unicorn! (This will only make sense if you read that GYPSY article.)

This academic year, I'm all about cranking out great content that people actually want to engage with and share, not stuff I have to twist arms to get people to see or pay to promote or anything like that. (I've even got a calendar and everything!) As I've written about on here a few times, my eye is on the prize of reaching what Scott Stratten calls the "third circle" - i.e., creating something so good that you can get the friends of people who follow your page (that is, people who have no connection whatsoever to you) to share it with their friends. 

Basically, I've sort of abandoned straight promotion and instead am interested in scratching at things that are clever, art projects, creative, genuinely funny, unique, amazing, jaw-dropping... you know (in hushed tones) viral.

I'm sure I'm going to fail more than I succeed, but I know it's the right direction to be moving in. Which is why I'm pretty excited to share with all of you all our latest creation: a video of us wandering around campus and asking random people to show us the last photo on their phone and tell a story about it. Here are the fun, heartwarming, hilarious results: 

Yes, that was my reedy little voice at the start of the video... not very impressive, huh? Try not to imagine this whole blog being read in that voice. Yeesh.

As with all things, this was inspired by an existing project, by San Francisco artist Ivan Cash

For all the things that I could criticize about it (I know it's too long, we should have spent more time out in the field getting really good responses, we didn't get the original photos from everyone), I love how it tells a story through people. It shows a lot of the wide spectrum that is a college campus, and humanizes people in a way that I find so wonderful - like how most of the professors and staff pictures involved their children and how only maybe one or two of the student photos were "selfies" or some other navel-gazey Instagram stereotype we all have.

It was a really fun project to work on too... it's never a bad idea to get out of your office and out on campus connecting with people. For those interested in the "how to" side of things, we would approach people and first make sure they had a smart phone and then asked them if they'd be willing to appear in a video for the marketing office. Some people declined, but most were all for it. 

Then, we started recording and asked them to show us the last photo on their phone. We wanted to get genuine reactions of people responding to that question, which is a bit intimidating when you stop to think about it for a second. Then we asked them to show us the picture and tell the story behind it.  

I brought a notebook and a stack of business card with me - I wrote down everyone's name and what their picture was, then handed them my card and asked them to email me the original phoo file. Some people did it right away... others, I emailed later in the day (I had their names - see how smart that was!) requesting the photos. I got almost all of them, but you know how students are with email. Total flakes.

When we were ready to share it, I emailed everyone again to send them the link and ask them to post it on their own personal Facebook/Twitter/etc and also send it to their proud parents/families.

Full credit goes to my great coworkers, especially the super-talented photographer/videographer/editor Jeff Kennel, the marketing extraordinaire Mary Beebe, and the awesome Ryan Belisle, a student who helped us out a lot. I just carried around the camera bag.

If any of you are interested in doing something similar on your campus, feel free to tweet/Facebook/email me and ask any questions you might have! 

Music at Midweek: Wait!

Best Social Media Idea of the Month: Perls of Knowledge