Great Social Media Idea: Graduates of #ILLINOIS

Another day, another wonderful #hesm idea sent in via the suggestion box.

Lots of colleges have created "Humans of..." pages inspired by the wildly successful Humans of New York (I wrote about some examples last year), but I'm not sure I've ever come across a short-term "Humans of..." idea like what University of Illinois just did with their "Graduates of #ILLINOIS" campaign.

I mean... just look at this!

These were all posted on Facebook, as well as several on Instagram and Twitter. Each photo has an accompanying story, like this:

Traveling by plane is difficult when you have two wheelchairs, a shower chair and tons of stuff to decorate your dorm room. So, when I first came to Illinois, my parents drove the 900 miles from Long Island to Champaign. I was so nervous. We don’t have Dairy Queen where I’m from, and I had always wanted to try a Blizzard. So, my first day on campus, my dad bought me an Oreo Blizzard. And I thought, ‘Even if this doesn’t go well, at least I got to try a Blizzard.’

Getting lost and being totally confused has been a big part of being here. I did a lot of going around and asking for directions from random people. Slowly, it’s gotten better, and I figured out the bus system.

Having a physical disability, you spend a lot of time with your parents, and you’re dependent on them. They know everything you do because they drop you off and pick you up. It was nice to be at school and call my mom and tell her what I did that day. Or to decide that today I’m going to run errands, and I’m going to take myself there.

I’m so glad I came to school here. I’m so glad I decided to swallow my nerves and try living on a college campus. In high school, I was the wheelchair kid. Here, it’s been nice to be part of the population. Being able to do this – attend college away from home – is more than I ever imagined in my wildest dreams.”

- Kathleen Downes
Major: Community Health & Rehabilitation

I love every bit of this... putting names and faces to a large graduating class, inspiring prospective/current students and alumni alike with the fresh-faced hopes and dreams of some fantastic soon-to-be college graduates. These types of photos and stories can so easily be re-purposed in fundraising and/or admissions materials, and it's extremely popular social content:

Thought you might be interested in a graduation series we put together inspired by Humans of New York.

From a total of six profiles we’ve posted so far, we’ve already gotten more than 44,000 post clicks and 284,00+ impressions on Facebook.

Not only that, but they’re powerful examples of how we can be human through social media when we let students tell our story.

This was sent to me mid-way through the campaign... they ended up posting 15 of them over a two-week period leading up to commencement.

Definitely put this one in your quiver of ideas to "borrow" for next year's graduation, because this one is a doozy!


Great Social Media Idea: "Dear Freshman Me" video

Great Social Media Idea: Special Graduation Messages for Family