Great Social Media Idea: Campus Legends

Campus legends. They exist at every school. Sometimes it's a professor. Sometimes it's a janitor. Sometimes it's the social media manager. (Rarely is this the case, alas.) But always it's someone who is universally beloved.

It's people like this that really help forge the community of a school. They tie together generations of alumni and they provide something that belongs uniquely to a particular institution. You can major in biology anywhere, but you have to go to University of Portland to take organic chemistry from a guy with a huge beard who wears rainbow suspenders and a periodic table necktie

I recently went to a social media marketing event, where industry professionals spoke a lot about "real-time marketing." This has been a big buzzword in social media ever since Oreo Cookies tweeted about the Superbowl blackout this year, but I must admit that the presentation left me cold. It was good in the sense that it was interesting that Volkswagen got a ton of likes posting about the royal baby, but I couldn't stop thinking about how chasing engagement is, ultimately, ephemeral and a vanity-driven exercise. Likes are nice; making somebody feel something is nicer.

Which is why I loved this post from Occidental College so much: 

I mean, come on... this is amazing social media work!

I mean, come on... this is amazing social media work!

I have no idea who Kathy the sandwich maker is, but really... I know exactly who she is. She is a campus legend at that school, and the flood of likes and comments didn't come from people who are tweeting about the royal baby or some other "real time" major event. It came from people who genuinely love this person and are re-living fond memories of her and (by proxy) Occidental. 

Getting offline and out of our offices is sometimes a very, very important part of the job for social media managers. How can you tweet about a place if you don't have the pulse of what's going on around you? If you don't know the people that make it special? 

Occidental teaches us a valuable lesson, one that I blather on about too much, I know, but hey - I'm a voice in the wilderness of social media writing, what with its endless "Five Ways to Get Engagement!" listicles that promote fill-in-the-blanks and memes. Yeesh.

Anyway, the valuable lesson is that it's always better to connect on an emotional level. You can't go to that well too many times (people are on social media to take a break from everything, never forget), but people do have to drink from time to time, amiright? Never underestimate the power of a smiling face and a sense of nostalgia.

Well done, Occidental! 

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