Great Social Media Idea: School Pride Photos Galore!

It's a rare day when someone actually reads this blog, and rarer still is the day when I receive a lovely email from a reader. But rarest of all is when I forego another boring post of my own and share a lovely email from a reader that explains an awesome project the worked on. I should do this more often!

In fact, if you are inspired enough by this post to want to submit one of your own, you should do it! Just send me an email at or use the "submit an idea" box thingy to the right.

This following note comes from Kate Post at Chico State University. I loved it for so many reasons: 1) for its kind words about this blog (oh yes, I'm a sucker for flattery); 2) how I can so acutely relate to what it's like to be out there rocking a project with literally zero dollars in budget, borrowed equipment, and no guarantees at whether it will be successful or not; 3) the wonderful honesty of looking back and seeing what worked and didn't; 4) how perfect it showcases the many hats we higher ed social media managers wear - event planner, photographer, graphic designer, etc. and 5) the project turned out super, super awesome!

It's projects like this that I absolutely love to showcase on this blog. Maybe they're not as polished as a big budget production, but they are lean, mean, and have a lot of love and passion put into them. Also, I think it's so valuable to be able to read a play-by-play of how a project like this actually gets pulled off. More than anything, my vision for this blog is to be a resource for higher ed social media managers and maybe help make their jobs just a wee bit easier.

OK Kate... take it away!

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We really loved the UP photo campaign [featured in this blog post here] from a while back, and we decided to do a low-budget imitation. (And, by low-budget, I mean, $0 budget.) For two days last week, we set up a tent and backdrop in the main quad area of our campus during lunchtime, and corralled students into taking school pride photos. 

Not fired up to be taking a photo with the Wildcat. Not fired up at all. 

Not fired up to be taking a photo with the Wildcat. Not fired up at all. 

We worked with our bookstore (separate, non-state entity on campus) to borrow fun props for the day, and bargained with our athletics department to bring out our mascot for an hour each day. We borrowed the tent, backdrop, and camera from other departments, and the photos were shot by myself or my student intern, and edited (mostly just cropped) inexpertly by me.

Students (and faculty/staff) grabbed props and posed for a quick photo. They were great and very creative! Since the goal was to drive them to our social media, we told them to find their and tag photo on our Facebook page. I wanted to have a quick turnaround, so I killed myself to get them up on Facebook in less than 24hrs. They were a big hit (reached 25,000+ people in three days), and an even bigger hit with our administrators.



We learned a lot in the process and made some changes before Day 2, and have even more ideas/changes if we do it again in the future (which is looking likely). Notably, we need a taller backdrop because our mascot is too tall! Also, we added a watermark with our Twitter handle, but I would skip that next time. It was time consuming to add, I don't think we had a good ROI on it, and if anything, it detracted people from using their photo as a profile picture.

But, overall, I feel really good about the project and end product. We now have a collection of 250+ fantastic, creative, enthusiastic "Wildcat Pride" school spirit photos that show the depth and breadth of our campus community. We're currently trying to figure out uses beyond social media, and plans are already in the works to feature a collection in our university magazine this fall, and possibly in upcoming campaign materials.

My personal favorite thing about the experience was just seeing all the variety in the photos. You can't look through the album without smiling! And that was true while we were shooting, too, which made standing in the 100 degree heat for two hours a lot more bearable. 

The other great thing was working with our $0 budget and producing something so awesome has given "the big bosses" the visual evidence of how great these mini-campaigns can be, and shows what we could do with even a small investment of resources next time around.

Speaking of "next times," we've already had a request from the Residence Life Programming coordinator to do another round at the dorms, so we'll be working with them to organize something. Also, we may do another round in the spring, or the very least, next fall.

Also, lots of credit should go to my social media student intern Shyna Deepak for helping organize and set up the booth. As you know, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the fantastic minds and energy of our student employees!

So, thank you and UP for the inspiration!

Facebook album

We also picked 5 for our blog today.

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Not to get sappy here, but this email came at the perfect time. I really don't know what I'm doing with this blog other than to give myself an outlet for writing something that isn't a press release. I have periods when I wonder why I'm even bothering with it... I don't have the energy to do all the SEO and social media-ing necessary to make it reach much of an audience, and it's so niche of a topic anyway that it will never get much interest. I know all of these things, which is why I don't really care that I pepper my blog posts with out-dated pop culture references and spend the first two paragraphs of almost every post droning on and on about things no one cares about.

So to get a note like this that says that this blog helped inspire a project that turned out to be popular and successful, well... that makes me very, very, very happy. I've always hoped that it could serve as a resource for my high ed social media comrades in arms, and it's really awesome to know that it has helped at least someone out there.

So thanks very much, Kate! Means a lot to me that you not only take the time to read my nonsense blog, but that you passed along such a kind and inspiring note. It's very, very much appreciated!


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