6 Tips to Up Your Commencement Social Media Game

My most favorite time of the year: Commencement. There are so many emotions wrapped up in graduation weekend. Joy. Pride. Accomplishment. Freaking out about what’s next.

I love it all 🎓

Commencement marks the end of students’ collegiate journey and the start of life as newly minted alumni. They have spent the past four years learning and growing into the people they were always supposed to be and now it’s time to spread their wings and fly.

Since Commencement is the crown jewel of the college experience, we put a lot of effort into making each Commencement season particularly special on social media.

Earning a college degree is an enormous accomplishment for each college graduate, but it’s also meaningful to the entourage of support for grads from parents, grandparents, family, friends, professors, staff and beyond. We take all of this into account when planning our graduation content.

One of the cool things I’ve discovered about Commencement when it comes to engaging with our fans on social media is that even though they may not be graduating this year, seeing graduation posts stirs up feelings of nostalgia and pride. We’re all about tapping into that.

Here we go, six tips from how we upped our Commencement game this year.

#1: Develop content to help students survive finals

In order to make it to graduation, you have to get through finals. As with Commencement, so many emotions are tied up with finals. Dread, anxiety, fear, exhaustion, excitement for summer break or graduation. To give our students a little motivational boost while they’re cramming for finals, we surprised students studying in the library with a visit from our mascot CAM the Ram offering hugs and high fives. Watch it here.

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To provide some comic relief, Ashley Manweiler combed through YikYak to create 26 Things Overheard at CSU during Finals Week on BuzzFeed.

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We got into the adult coloring trend by providing some custom coloring sheets.

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We also had some fun on Twitter. GIFs may be the greatest gift to social media management.

And we couldn’t let finals go by without some #WednesdayWisdom.

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#2: Create a look and use it in all of your pieces

In other words, branding. Use it. Jen Smith took the lead on the creative direction for developing a cohesive look for our social Commencement materials that were in line with CSU’s institutional brand. Her inspiration was the Dr. Seuss quote, “Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way.”

She designed a mountain-scape look that we incorporated in all of our social materials.

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Cover images: We used this same cover image on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.

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PowerPoint slide: All eight of CSU’s colleges run their own PowerPoint presentations before their Commencement ceremonies as people come in and take their seats.



#3: Experiment with Snapchat geofilters

Since Snapchat launched on-demand geofilters a couple of months ago, we decided to try them out for Commencement. We designed three filters and made them available throughout Commencement weekend at prime spots on campus.

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We also put out signs on campus identifying when people were entering a #RamGrad Snapchat geofilter zone. We’ll definitely use on-demand geofilters in the future but I wish Snapchat provided analytics showing how many people used them.


#4: Tap into all the feels

This is one of the sweetest and most rewarding projects we have undertaken as a team. Chase Baker explains how we made it happen. Watch Dear Ram here.

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#5: Share photos throughout the weekend

People love seeing pics of smiling grads. For the past few years we’ve posted photo albums on Facebook throughout graduation weekend. Those continue to be a hit.

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#6: Top it all off with an inspirational quote


So much pomp, so much circumstance 

All of this special Commencement content paid off. During the week of finals leading up to and through Commencement weekend, we reached more than one million people on Facebook, generated 16K+ likes and hundreds of comments on our Instagram content, and our hashtag #RamGrad was widely used on Twitter and Instagram. Also, our Dear Ram video reached people far and wide. We continue to get feedback about how the video moved people in amazing ways.

I’m already looking forward to our next Commencement season.

WATCH : A slow-motion video as a part of Colorado State University’s Commencement Week celebration.