Great Social Media Idea: "Dear Freshman Me" video

Every now and then I get something sent in to the suggestion box that makes it infinitely clear that I am a terrible, no good, very bad person to be running this blog. Why? Because so many of you #hesm peeps out there are way smarter than me and can actually write real posts rather than my random musings on early 90s dance music (the best kind of dance music, by the way!), Veronica Mars, and - occasionally - higher ed social media.

Today is one of those days. Allow the brilliant Kate Post of Chico State University take it away from here with a super duper rad video idea that works for graduation and for admissions.

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Here's a little idea Chico State cooked up to celebrate the graduating students AND welcome freshman in August. As we all know, seniors are at their most reflective right before Commencement, and it's the best time to get some sincere and fun content from them. Many of us are leveraging that in great ways and making fun video or photo projects to celebrate grads, show on the jumbotrons at the ceremonies, etc.

We decided to take it a step further, and see if we could create something that is not only meaningful to outgoing students (and their family/friends), but also to our new students in the fall. Why not look for content with long-term value when you can? So, we stole an idea from YouTube. Earlier this spring, YouTube ran a video and Tumblr campaign in conjunction with International Women's Day asking their creators (and inspiring users) to make videos giving advice to their younger self. The #DearMe campaign spawned tons of great, funny, sincere videos (details here), and gave me an idea for our grad video.

We filmed our #DearMe (Dear Freshman Me) video at Senior Send-off, a BBQ event for graduating seniors about a month before Commencement. We asked them on camera, simply, what would you tell your freshman self? The responses were a mix of silly ("Naps," declares one senior), practical ("Go to class, ALL THE TIME"), and inspiring ("Don't let others kill your spark for life and for adventure.")

Video Links (whichever is better for you) FB: YouTube: The video was a great hit with grads and alums and added nice color to our Commencement coverage. It was successful number-wise, viewed more 11,400 times (FB+YT), and shared 90 times on FB (FB video link), but the real measure, I think, is the people who chimed in on the comments to add their own "Dear Freshman Me" response, or reflect on how much they miss school. Hit that nostalgia/inspiration sweet spot!

But, what I'm most excited about is when I start promoting this video in August for the incoming freshmen! We'll push it again on social media, and plan to air it on the big screens at our welcome event for new students. You know freshmen would rather hear from their peers/alums than "The University" about how to get the most out of their college experience, and it gives us a chance to repurpose this great Commencement content. Win-win! If other schools want to replicate the idea, there's still time! You could use the summer months to solicit video clips (or quotes) from alums, recent and not, and put it together into a nice package for your freshmen in the fall.

Final notes: The video was filmed and edited by my excellent student intern (and class of 2015 grad) Jeff Barron (cameo at 1:10 in the video). If anyone has questions, they can reach me on twitter @post_kate or old school email,

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This is so awesome, and I love every bit of it.

Huge props to Kate and everyone else at Chico State that worked on this concept and video!

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