Trends, Stories and Carousels: Maximizing Our Spring 2023 Commencement Content

Here's a rundown of our content strategy for Spring 2023 Commencement at Colorado State University.

There’s nothing like Commencement weekend on campus. From thousands of tassel turns to hundreds of hugs, there are so many sweet IRL moments. I love that, as the social media team, we get to capture some of these moments to share with grads, their fams, and the Ramily.

Graduation is a great time to capitalize on engagement and maybe even experiment with a few content strategies you’ve been thinking about trying out.

From Facebook Status Updates to Add Yours stickers and more, here are a few ways we got social with #RamGrads this spring.

Getting social with President Parsons

We’re fortunate that CSU’s 16th president, Amy Parsons, is up for having fun on social media. Because of that, we partnered with her on two Commencement-week posts.

Q&A with President Amy Parsons and #RamGrads

The key to creating good social media content with a university president is focusing on content that aligns with their personality and preferences. When your president is comfortable, it will shine through in the content. Lucky for us, President Parsons is a natural on camera. She loves getting to know the CSU community, and thrives when interviewing them.

President Parsons was already planning to be at CSU’s Senior Sendoff (a casual celebration at Canvas Stadium for graduating Rams), so we brought a mic and camera to capture her mingling with graduates and their families. We shared the post on Instagram as a collab to give both our accounts a little boost.

President Parsons Throwback

It also helps when your president is an alum, too. President Parsons just rejoined CSU as president in February 2023, giving us lots of opportunities to share some never-seen-before throwbacks.

Trying Facebook status updates

Status updates on Facebook aren’t new, and they’ve definitely been hit or miss for us in the past. This Commencement, we asked CSU’s Facebook followers what year they graduated from CSU and their major. And friends, the post has 1,400 comments 🤯

Why’d it work? No idea. If I were to guess, I’d say it has something to do with a mix of nostalgia and pride. While every alum didn’t necessarily go to Homecoming or a theater production, the one thing all alums have in common is that they got a degree. It’s unifying, it’s prideful, and people want to take part in it.

We’ve also had luck with status updates asking things like which residence hall they lived in. General questions that apply to the overall college experience tend to perform better for us.

Not sleeping on TikTok and Reels

We used to focus on one large centerpiece video for Commencement. But, with the changing times, we’ve changed our content strategy, as well. Over the last few graduation cycles, we’ve ditched the single centerpiece video and put more effort into multiple, short-form vertical videos.

They’re easier to make (shorter in length, filmed on a smartphone, edited in-app, etc.), and allow you to make videos with different emotions, rather than having one centerpiece video that only centers on one or two emotions.

Tapping into trends

It’s hard to plan ahead of time for trends. But, pay attention to audio, themes, and challenges that are trending near Commencement. Is there a way to make that trend work for your brand? Not always. But luckily, the Wes Anderson trend was taking off during graduation season and our graduating student co-creator, Alex, jumped on it.

Making space for high-quality video

I can’t express this enough: high-quality video and storytelling still have a place in social media, especially when it comes to emotion-inducing content.

Hannah created this beautiful video featuring the graduation celebrations of CSU’s Student Diversity Programs and Services offices. The artistry of the video doesn’t distract you from the video — it adds to the emotion of it.

Using Instagram Stories for UGC, event coverage, live content, and celebrating grads

Of course, Instagram Stories is a great place to post live event coverage and little moments that aren’t necessarily feed-worthy.

We’ve moved to using Instagram Stories as a primary way to share UGC, especially during high-engagement times, like graduation. We add Stories and posts we’re tagged in to CSU’s Story as a way to celebrate #RamGrads. Fans love it, and it’s not as time consuming as other UGC strategies.

Don’t forget to use Instagram’s native tools, as well, for UGC opportunities, like the Add Yours sticker.

Stories, like Twitter, is also a great place to share content from other institutional accounts to celebrate with colleges, the Alumni Association, ROTC, Student Diversity Offices, etc.

A screen shot showing C S U adding the College of Ag's Instagram feed post to the C S U Instagram Story.

Carousels and albums hit. Every time.

Over the last year, our team focused on posting more Reels and carousels to Instagram. We saw success in carousels through our analytics, and putting more effort into carousels has paid off.

While not every carousel gets 5,000 likes, our Commencement carousels do. Don’t ignore what content type works for you and double-down on that during graduation.


Commencement gets redundant after so many years. I get it. With so many new tools, platforms and trends to try out, consider maximizing on it during graduation.

Thanks for reading, friends. Until next time!