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Why It’s Not a Surprise We Made a Video Surprising Students with Puppies


It’s the season of barbecues, hikes, weddings (I’m talking to you, Jake Mendez and Emily Hooker), and a break from the constant slam of social we all endure when school is in session.

But before I move on to boat rides and waterparks, I want to look back on the most epic week for all universities: finals week → commencement.

Specifically, I want to talk about one specific project we created that week: Surprising students and professors with puppies.


A lot of our fans loved this video (👉 🐶), but there were some fans who questioned why we made the video. Specifically, they questioned why we chose to share such a silly video rather than research and news coming out of the university. I appreciate critical thinkers, and I also appreciate accountability. So, I’m here to answer the question.

Here we go.

Social media is not only for news

Sure, a lot of people turn to social media to get their news (hey-o, millennials). But social was never intended to be used solely as a news source. Today, people turn to social media for a handful of things.

GlobalWebIndex conducted a study to answer why people use social media. The number one reason (55 percent and no surprise) is to keep in touch with friends and family. Forty-one percent use social media just to fill up spare time. Seeking out news and information ties with boredom at 41 percent.

Even more interesting, GlobalWebIndex found users are motivated to engage with social content that is entertaining. That’s right. We follow our favorite actors, and constantly want to be entertained. This explains why the big social media players have pushed the use of video so much in the recent year(s).

📽 = 😂 😍 😭 👏

Knowing the majority of users are online to fill time and be entertained helps our team strategize content that our followers and fans will engage with.

The video fits within our brand personality

Any social media professional knows all about brand personalities. Social media is, well, social. To be a successful brand within a social world, we give the brands we work for personalities.

Once we create a brand personality, we also create “content buckets,” which are different topics our brand’s personality would likely share on social media. For example, CSU’s brand personality on Facebook is authentic, spirited, a dash of snark and informative. Some of the content buckets we pull from are Ram Pride, Fort Collins, people, quirky news and big research stories.

If we pair our authentic personality with people and quirky news, boom, we’re recording students and puppies. Capturing real reactions on camera ties in with our authentic personality. Making our subjects students and professors fits within our “people” category. It also focuses around a common experience every student, alum, or professor can identify with: finals week. Throwing in some puppies makes it beyond quirky.

We share veggies and dessert

As I mentioned, some followers were confused about why we were posting such a silly video. There were also followers who were concerned we were pushing the wrong agenda: Buy a pet rather than adopt from a shelter.

One of my very brilliant colleagues, Rob Novak, gave a presentation on cooking up a balanced content diet and explained the importance of sharing veggies (hard news, research, awards, major gifts from donors, etc.) with dessert (pretty pictures of campus, cute pictures of CAM the Ram, quirky content, etc.).

Other major brands on social follow this pattern, too. Just the other week, the Rockies tweeted their whole game in quotes from the movie Rocky (thanks to my boo, Andrew, for that one). Don’t get me started on the genius comedian behind the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Twitter account.

Social media is meant to be informative and serious just as much as it’s meant to be fun and entertaining. Scrolling through CSU or the Veterinary Teaching Hospital Facebook pages shows we have a healthy diet. We might post a puppy video from time to time, but we also share the top five reasons to adopt a shelter pet, stories about our researchers changing the world, and videos of our students beating the odds to graduate.

We’ll always spoil our followers with extra dessert, but not before we’ve given them their veggies first.

The video fits within the purpose of CSU’s social media team

Our team was not created to share university news. There are six amazing public relations professionals we sit alongside who do that. And they do a darn good job at it. They don’t need the four of us coming in to muck it all up.

Our team was charged by the university to accomplish something else. The purpose of our team is…ready for it?

“To give fans a sense of belonging to fuel their fandom and inform them about CSU – all while pushing the envelope.”

The puppy video, and all our other warm-and-fuzzy videos, are meant to do so much more than make people laugh.

First, we’re building a community. We create a space on social media for anyone who loves CSU to congregate and connect.

Second, we’re building fandom. Surprising students with puppies creates positive emotions. Those emotions are then applied to CSU. We’re turning our followers into Rams fans for life, and maybe reaching a few who didn’t know they wanted to be part of the Ramily, yet.

Third, we’re creating content that pushes the envelope. It was finals week, also known as one of the hardest weeks to be a student. We wanted every student and professor to know their university is here for them. Sure, we could have posted some study tips. But as we know from research, students aren’t logging into social media to get another study speech. They’re likely taking a break from studying to be entertained. We like to think we entertained them, and maybe a few others 😉

The proof is in the pudding

The proof that the video, or dessert, worked is all in the analytics.

The video reached 900,000 people on Facebook alone, and the comments were heartwarming. At the end of it all, the students and professors in the video received a much-needed puppy break, and we gifted another puppy video to social media.

Hopefully this also helps social media pros struggling to get support for a fun a video. These videos are legitimate and should be part of the strategy if it fits within a brand’s personality.

If you want more…

Here are a few more funny and/or warm-and-fuzzy videos we created. We love them, and we hope you do too.

Maybe you don’t have time to watch them because you’re getting ready to go to the park or meet friends at the lake. And that’s okay. Happy summering, friends ☀️

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I would like to dedicate my June blog to my No. 1 fan on LinkedIn, Jake Mendez, and his fiance, Emily Hooker, who are getting married this month ❤️ 

See you two in Vail!