Marketing and Communications blog

Here's to snap-happy parents and graduation selfies   

Posted by Richard Tatnall | 0 comments  
27Aug2014

Graduation is one of the most significant milestones in the life of any student and an opportunity for us as a university to give them the send-off they deserve. From a social media perspective, this means capturing the attention of graduates and saying congratulations in style. 

Awards ceremonies are fuelled by proud, snap-happy parents and graduation selfies which inevitably finds their way onto a treasure trove of social media channels. To capitalise on this appetite for visual content, a campaign celebrating student success would need to be social to the core. Enter then, the UWE Bristol Instagram frame.  A quick hat tip to Ithaca College at this point, which has previously employed this idea to showcase its scenic campus. 

Why Instagram? 

As a platform to emulate, Instagram fitted the bill perfectly and not just for its emphasis on photography. The setting of UWE’s graduation ceremonies, Bristol Cathedral and College Green, lend themselves perfectly to Instagram’s vintage filters – who doesn’t enjoy Norman, Gothic architecture through a Kelvin filter? And while the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have their lovers and haters in varying measures, Instagram holds the greatest universal respect among our primary audience meaning we were able to strike the perfect cheesey/innovative balance.

Loaded with the appropriate hashtags to maximise both reach and engagement, the frame brought a new twist to the normal graduation photography and one which nicely put UWE’s social presence front and centre.

Maximising the reach

As well as providing a means to add branding to graduation photography, the frame also enabled the conversation around the ceremonies on social media to continue well beyond the events themselves. With an average of 100 photographs from each of the four faculties’ award ceremonies, UWE Bristol’s Facebook page was well stocked with highly shareable content for the whole two weeks of graduation. 

As soon as albums were posted, graduates would start to tag themselves, friends and family in the individual photographs causing engagement with the Facebook page to snowball. Some photographs received more than 50 engagements each, while the organic reach of each faculty album broke the page record that had been set by the one before – all breaking the 20,000 impression mark.

Naturally UWE’s Instagram channel was also ultilised by hosting a selection of the best shots from each ceremony and, as with UWE’s Twitter feed, signposting audiences to the full Facebook albums.

The life of the campaign doesn’t end there however. The Instagram frame photographs have been widely used as Facebook profile pictures and Twitter avatars, giving the campaign a much longer lifespan and further extending the reach of the original albums. There’s also an outdoor advertising campaign in the pipeline which features a selection of the Instagram frame photographs to further maximise the multi-channel potential of the campaign.

The real measure of success

The greatest result of the campaign however was the reaction of the graduates and their families to being photographed with the frame. As soon as it was brought out each day, people were queuing up to use it in their photographs; experimenting with different ways to pose with it (unsurprisingly the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education scooped the originality award); and flocking to photograph their sons and daughter in full on celebratory mode. The frame was able to capture the triumphant mood of the ceremonies and truly social to the core.

tags: campaigns, digital marketing, ideas, social media
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