Ah, graduation is over – congratulations to all of the 2014 graduates across our country! Here is a lovely quote from Shonda Rhimes’ Dartmouth Commencement speech this year that went viral:
“Be brave. Be amazing. Be worthy, and every single time you get a chance, stand up in front of people. Let them see you.”-Shonda Rhimes
The results of the #SOU2104 #Selfie Graduation initiative were awesome. Truly, pictures do tell a thousand words. Elation, authenticity, and that particular coolness that simply comes with a pair of sunglasses, a graduation hat tassle (must be an official word for that), and a strong sense of graduate pride and accomplishment were evident in the photos.
Documenting graduation via selfies was a way to involve students in celebrating their accomplishment in graduating and the initiative creates a visual record on Instagram of college completion.
This topic of – letting them see you – is quite apropos in light of this year’s controversy surrounding taking selfies at graduations. From Bryant University to the University of South Florida – many college campuses banned selfies at graduation.
I encouraged top leadership at SOU to consider the counter. Let us encourage this millennial gesture.A pitch is always in order, which is part of what I enjoy about working as a social media marketer.
The whole idea of letting them see you defines social media. Social media is all about us as the viewer witnessing the author’s participation. In life. In clothes. At a show. On vacation. Cooking. At Graduation.
UCG with strategic hashtags is streamlining the content towards particular marketing goals.
And, sure, you can hire a photographer for a job – but there’s nothing like a UCG initiative to obtain images mediated not from an outside party, but from your own demographic.
Plus, you’ll always get a swift turn around time – such as in real-time – on photos taken by and from your own demographic. That sure makes me happy!
Tracking the visual snaps and language your demo crafts on social = rich source material and inspiration for ways to conceptualize a social media campaign.
Here’s how SOU’s latest Preview Weekend Instagram Contest was conceptualized.
1. I search #SOUAshland, #SOU on twitter and insta often. “Searching often” is a very “soft” term. I’d say in truth, I obsessively track our demo. Kidding. Nope, not kidding at all.
2. I saw that many students are both snapping pics of their Acceptance Letters…and of course taking pics of their experience on Preview Day, and writing a bit about their experience. I take grabs of these posts to share with my department and other departments to keep them in the loop on the conversation on social.
3. The work I do with the Graphic Designer and Marketing Assistant is collaborative and open. I shared this snap with my Graphic Design collaborator, and he noted, “someone wrote, ‘Loving SOU.'”
Well, it just so turns out that SOU’s Preview Weekend begun on Valentine’s Day and ended the day after. Perfect. I decided to move on this and named the contest #LovingSOU Preview Weekend Instagram Contest.
4. I’m obsessed with theburninghouse.com. And I thought it would be great to do a giveaway where we took a photograph of SOU and Valentine’s Day related items…pulling from Gen Y visual culture, and illustrating what items 1 randomly selected winner would receive.
We teamed up with the Admissions Associate Director and Admissions Counselor and went to the bookstore to pick the items as a team. Each of us brought items to the table with the goal of reflecting different types of students in the objects to be shown in the promo graphic: from the athletic or sporty (water bottle, sweatshirt, cap) to the hipster (plaid scarf, sunglasses), and (hopefully) everything in-between.
The object I think truly captures the “spirit” of this campaign, is the journal with the text, “There is no set path, just follow your heart!” that the Admissions Counselor picked out. I also ran to a store off campus and found Hershes kisses, glittery sparkle hearts and leopard print socks with hearts on them. But of course.
I shared this visual template with the Graphic Designer and he snapped a few photos, laying out the items. He took a few photos with his feet in them, and I thought this was something to keep, it’s a cool way to innovate upon the uber clean look of theburninghouse.com. Feet-in-the-frame was an “accident” that in my mind truly makes this image unique. It brings the viewer into the frame and adds quirk.
5. The contest was announced at Preview Weekend. Prospective students were asked to follow SOU on twitter and instagram AND tag each photo with #lovingSOU, #SOUAshland and #PreviewWeekend.
Tagging #PreviewWeekend was essential, as prospective students who may not know about SOU may come upon the promo graphic on insta from the tags students make of the photos they take. New students may also learn about the contest via the promo graphic and messaging that includes the hash, #PreviewWeekend.
6. We received 131 photo submissions. A great number, considering the total number of Preview Weekend student attendees was close to 140 students.
7. Our winner’s photo was randomly selected and she then received her fab items. True love!
For my most recent client, Southern Oregon University, I created a UGC initiative on Instagram during the first 2 weeks of school. It was the perfect time to leverage excitement around a new school year.
The intellectual and creative capital of the faculty and the students make SOU a vital place. The ask was for the most important people on campus to document the amazing experience of a new school year AND determine the winners.
After an Instagram submission period of 2 weeks, we curated 5 images, and gave the community one week to vote for the finalists on both Instagram and Facebook. The combined community votes on both platforms determined the 2 winners.
– Create awareness around a new Instagram account and increase engagement on Facebook
– Generate school spirit by celebrating current students and faculty as media-makers and connect-in to school nostalgia by engaging parents and alumni. Engage all populations – current students, parents, faculty, alumni, and prospective students.
– Use a unified handle @souashland and hashtag #SOUAshland and require students to tag photos #SOUAshland in order to enter the giveaway to establish brand recognition and reach. There had been some confusion before I came on board for what the University twitter handle was (multiple accounts had been created). My solution was much inspired by this post from Social Media Examiner.
1. The Facebook announcement of the 5 SOU YOU Giveaway finalists received 14,912 impressions and received the highest virality (Likes, Comments, and Shares) in the history of the Facebook page. Students asking their friends to vote for + share their image to gain more votes was a key component in impression number.
2. A sense of participating in one’s community was achieved. When one’s agency is celebrated (I document my life, this is my view from here) and sense of place is celebrated (My school is awesome), retention is a likely outcome.
I received some great feedback from students when I taught a 2 hour class fall term on Social Promotions in the SOU Business School:
Pulled from both FB and Sprout Social analytics and one-to-one conversations:
– Current students and prospective students – On Instagram
– Parents, alumni, current students and prospective students – On Facebook
Remix the giveaway announcement graphic in one to two ways, but keep it recognizable (each week we’d swap out an instagram image in the the announcement card). Be mindful to not flood the feed with your promotion. Post once a week to encourage participation and keep your promotion messaging consistent.
Leverage the influence of a few key people, or as Malcolm Gladwell would say, find your Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen. And be sure to give them love along the way.
The incredible thing about being on a University campus is you have built-in brand evangelists: students, parents, faculty, alumni, and even prospective students.
The SOU Instagram Giveaway CTA was for people from our community to share their photos. It made sense to ask a few visible brand evangelists on campus to lead the way, and set the tone:
– Ask a student and faculty member active on Instagram to share a few of their own Instagram images for us to use in the promotional announcement graphic – and include their handle on the image
– Publicly thank both of them for providing their images to support the giveaway by tagging them on FB/ twitter and linking to their social properties. Back scratching. This is the SM code, key etiquette.
– Send an ask email to all faculty to share the Facebook announcement post. Succinctly ask them to support and let them know how supporting you provides clear benefits to them. See 15 shares below.
Sending an ask email is a very standard aspect of running an successful social media promotion. The goal is to educate and seduce the email recipient into taking action on your behalf in order to spread your messaging.
Perhaps not so much for this initiative as faculty as already positioned as brand evangelists, but if you’re emailing – see my post Listen, Love, and Leverage – you really want to lead with seduction. Use language to connect-in to your demo. Complement them, let them know how awesome they are, and how much you’re like them too.
This was how I got The Recessionista, a blogger with over 12,000 followers that is courted by many top fashion brands, to promote a Shoptopia Giveaway. We also had a phone call. I cannot underscore the value of face to face, voice to voice, Skype to Skype, in this digital world. Voice and facetime (in the flesh) still matters.
Work hard at sending them love, and mean it! Be innovative with your language! This hard work and authenticity really gives context and builds rapport. Which is key. Be real about it, and be on your game, please.
It’s helpful to provide pre-crafted tweets as illustrated here in my portfolio; this is something I’ve done with all blogger outreach initiatives I’ve conceptualized and managed. This keeps the giveaway/ promotion messaging streamlined. But you must say something in your copy that acknowledges that the blogger knows their community best. No-one likes it when you put words in their mouth.
Here’s a cheat sheet for you: