Great Social Media Idea: "A Look Back" Video for Graduates

*tap tap tap* ... is this thing on? Whoa! Yep. Yes it is. Wow.

It's good to be back here at Social Media for Colleges. Apologies for the extended absence, but my life always gets a bit crazy in the weeks leading up to and immediately following graduation and I didn't have the energy for life (just ask my girlfriend, who was just about ready to throw me out the window due to all the late nights and weekend hours) let alone the blog.

In March, I wrote about my ambitions plans for graduation social media/public art projects. I'm happy to say I was able to pull all of it off (with more than a little help from co-workers, of course!) along with two more projects that ended up getting tacked on to that list. Because I didn't do much social media monitoring of other colleges during my hiatus (sorry!), I am going to write about a few of those projects this week as I get back into the swing of things. I'm also doing it in a quixotic attempt for positive feedback, since I'm pretty sure my boss didn't even bother to check out most of them. Not that I'm bitter about that or anything.

First up: a "look back" video we put together for the Class of 2015, spanning the major moments and milestones from their time in college:

I'm quite happy with how it turned out, and it was definitely a hit with the graduating seniors and their parents. Despite a relatively small senior class of about 820 (and such, a pretty limited core audience for this video), it has nearly 3,000 views on Facebook and YouTube combined and received a huge number of likes/shares/comments, most of which included seniors saying things like "These four years have been amazing!" (By the way, I don't count 3-second FB views and neither should you... I think it's horribly dishonest how FB includes auto-played views lasting fewer than 10 seconds in their total reported view counts. It's a total sham.)

We also "premiered" the video to the seniors during their graduation rehearsal, which was really great... I'd say at least 75% of the class was able to see it in person, which definitely helped it spread on social media afterward.

My primary goal with this video was to provide students with something that would really make them reflect back on their time on campus and build up some really strong, positive feelings about it. The end of the year can be super stressful for seniors... finals, moving, family issues, starting a new job and/or freaking out about not having one, saying goodbye to friends, etc etc... and because it's such a busy time of year as well for faculty and staff, I feel like sometimes not enough attention is put on taking advantage of these precious last few moments of college. It's our last chance to shape them into being the engaged alumni that we want them to be, and I very much believe that a video like this can do a lot of good work in helping them leave campus with a really good and positive feelings about their experience.

To make the video, I first went back over the most popular social media posts over the past four years, using Facebook's timeline feature (Remember how that exists? It still does. And it actually helped!), my YouTube video history, and IconoSquare's ranking of my most popular Instagram posts over the years.

I also got a group of 5-6 well-connected seniors together, took them out to dinner, and had them look over yearbooks and several editions of the school paper that the newspaper staff was kind enough to let me borrow. They put together a terrific list of the things that they felt should be included and gave some great insight into some inside jokes of the seniors, which provided the basic framework for the video.

During the editing phase, I had a few different seniors watch all the various cuts to make sure that we weren't accidentally including photos of students who weren't in their class and that we were on track with content that was both relevant and meaningful.

My hope is that making a video like this will become a tradition, and that it will age very well and have a long second act as something that gets dusted off and shown at milestone class reunions. One of the reasons why I opted to include the songs, news headlines, and viral videos - which would have been very easy to cut out to save time and make the video snappier - was because I knew those were the things that would really place it in time and provide great nostalgia 10, 15, 25 years from now when everyone gets together and watches this at a reunion.

Another thing that proved to be SUPER useful in making this video were all of the photobooths, campus fashion shoots, and other social media projects I've done over the years that provided me with really a really rich selection of professional photos of smiling, happy students. Not only are those some of the most popular things I post on social media, I've been amazed at how versatile and durable they have proven to be, popping up in lots of print materials, all over our website, and now in videos. Take that, people who thought we were just wasting our time doing frivolous social media projects! (I'm not bitter... I'm not bitter...)  ;)

More to come soon!




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