Great Social Media Ideas: Wall of Envelopes with Personalized Cards

OK... Joe's Vanity Tour 2015 (TM) continues with yet another project I did over the past month. I actually have two more that I really want to write about, but I think I'll save those for next week. I was going to compile them all into this one post, but turns out I'm too lazy for that. Is the reason for my brief absence from the blog becoming more apparent? I hope so! I was a busy little bee in April.

Take a gander at the envelope wall:

If you ever wondered what 800+ brightly colored envelopes taped onto a gigantic wall looks like, here you go! To answer a few questions up front - yes, each envelope is personalized and yes, each one contained a personalized card inside. And if you're wondering what the gold stickers on some of the envelopes are, they say "donor" and were requested by our development office to recognize students who gave to the senior class campaign.

Because of the visual impact and the personalization, LOTS of students were posting about this on social media... I'm a big believer in providing people with something to take pictures in front of (embrace the selfie!), and this worked really great for that.

My original hope and dream for this project was to include something *super* personal for each graduate - maybe a personal note from an alumni, a faculty member, or a family member or a select passage from their original application essay - but that just didn't turn out to be feasible in the timeframe I was dealing with. I probably would have needed to start working on it several months in advance to pull that off.

As I realized my original idea wasn't going to happen, we ended up circling around on the idea of giving all the new alumni a personalized "keepsake" card that - hopefully! - they would hang onto and maybe keep on their fridge or in a college scrapbook or something like that. There is a sample of a card in the gallery above (sorry - don't have a great pic of one on hand, so that's one a student uploaded onto Instagram), and you can see that the design ended up having nine vector icons... four relating to the city of Portland, four to our campus, and one (in the middle) relating to their specific major... as well as their name, major, and class year.

We split the 800+ names into something like 20 different groups with unique designs - our goal was to try to make sure that if a group of friends were comparing their cards, they would notice that at least some of them were different from one another.

On the back side of the card was a note from our alumni office congratulating them, inviting them to some events, encouraging them to stay in touch, etc. And, of course, promoting the official hashtag of graduation.  :)

I would have loved to have something more personal, but baby steps, right? Right!

Also, a big part of the power of this project is the visual impact of the display, showing the grads that we care about them with such a personal touch, and the fun of participating with it by having to find your card. 

We had all the cards set up in time for the graduation rehearsal, and after that was done the students went to one of the big walls behind the bleachers in the arena (not the most beautiful location, but it has the benefit of LOTS of spaces) and got their cards. Here's a quick timelapse of it:

We tried our best to have the students take their cards but leave their envelopes, since we wanted to keep it up through the ceremony on Sunday and it looks best with all of the envelopes on the wall, but of course a few of the envelopes got legs and we had to replace them with blanks.

One of the amazing things about this project was something that happened totally unexpectedly and that I only realized a few days ago when I went back to the gym to take them all down. LOTS of family members and faculty members left notes for grads in the envelopes during graduation, not realizing what the purpose of them was. It was so sweet to see quickly-jotted notes on paper towels from professors placed in the envelopes, along with - in more than one instance! - money from friends and family. Totally crazy, and definitely something to keep in mind next year if we do this again... would it be totally insane to let family and faculty members know in advance that envelopes will be available for them to leave notes for grads in? Hmmmm...

As you might expect, this took a lot of manual labor to make happen, and I absolutely could not have done it without a lot of help from my fabulous co-workers. This one took a village, and I am extremely grateful for the assistance, since I absolutely could not have done it on my own.

Not gonna lie... I'm really, really proud of this one. It didn't turn out exactly as I hoped with what was inside the envelopes and there is a lot of room for improvement, but the visual impact was totally stunning, and all of the grads and their families were blown away by the personal touch of it. UP is a school that prides itself on a tight-knit community and from day one we talk about how students aren't just numbers here and everyone knows their names, and - to me, anyway... I think my boss feels differently about it... not that I'm bitter or anything - I think it's so important to follow through on that all the way to the end and make sure that our graduates really feel the love from us as they leave campus for good.

This is literally our last chance to do something special for them during their time as students, and I have to believe that doing something like this will make them think back a little more fondly about their alma mater and - hopefully! - will help them become engaged and committed and generous alumni down the road.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone, and I'll be back next week!



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