GVSU Social Blog
Permanent link for How we hosted a virtual graduate celebration for the GVSU Class of 2020 on May 7, 2020
Written By Meagan Saxton
When GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella announced remote learning would continue through the Winter 2020 semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most popular questions was: what about commencement?
Celebrating our class of 2020 and their achievements was, and still is, important to us. We knew that whatever was planned – it wouldn’t be the same as an April ceremony at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
The decision made was to postpone the in-person ceremony to October and host a virtual graduate celebration on the GVSU Facebook and YouTube pages. While we have broadcasted events on YouTube, a virtual commencement was a new concept for all of us. Here is a breakdown of what we did and how we did it.
Film and edit the virtual celebration video.
We give major kudos to the GVSU video team for filming and editing the full celebration. It included a message from President Mantella, Provost Maria Cimitile, clips submitted by each of the deans of GVSU’s eight colleges, names of all the graduates (3,000+) and it closed with a musical performance from a graduating senior. The virtual celebration’s length came in just under 40 minutes.
Promote the celebration ahead of time.
Of course, we had to get the word out. President Mantella announced in a Zoom town hall with current students and on her Twitter that there would be a virtual celebration. We also posted about the celebration on all GVSU social platforms a week in advance and the day before.
Choosing the best platform for a virtual celebration: Facebook and YouTube Premiere.
We chose to host the video on our Facebook and YouTube channels because we knew a majority of our audience would be able to find the celebration on one of those pages. We also chose those two platforms for the live comment functionality. By utilizing the premiere setting on Facebook, we were able to upload the video ahead of time. Doing so created an event on the GVSU page and alerted people following the page when the video went live. The premiere setting on YouTube also allowed us to upload the video ahead of time and created a countdown screen.
Once it was time for the video to go live, the GVSU Social team watched on both platforms to make sure it went off without any issues and to monitor comments.
Additional commencement content.
We knew this was not the usual ending for graduating students, but we wanted to still celebrate our class of 2020 with commencement-specific content.
This included: an Instagram AR filter with a graduation cap; class of 2020 graphics for Facebook and Twitter headers and Instagram Stories; an infographic with the number of graduates, dean’s list students, top undergrad and graduate degrees and more. Other GVSU social accounts created content, such as congratulatory messages from GVSU alumni.
How it went.
This was a successful and unique way to celebrate the class of 2020 without hosting an in-person ceremony. Peak viewership on YouTube reached 1,284 and on Facebook it reached 958. During the time of the celebration, some of our followers posted photos of them watching while wearing their cap and gown. We retweeted and reshared some of these photos on our Instagram story. To date, the video has received more than 47,789 views of at least 3 seconds on Facebook and 8,993 views on YouTube. We’re looking forward to the day we can celebrate the class of 2020 in-person!
Written By Meagan Saxton
Who doesn’t love to win — especially when a prize is involved?
Hosting a contest on social media is a great way to engage with followers and give back to them for supporting your brand/page. The GVSU Social team holds an annual #GVFall photo contest to do just that. To participate, we asked followers to include #GVFall with their fall photos of Grand Valley on Instagram or Twitter.
This year, there were more than 130 submissions for the contest, which began October 15 and submissions ended October 31. Our team selected the top six photos and posted them early November on Twitter and Instagram for GVSU followers to vote and pick the top three. The top three winners were announced two days later and the first place photo was posted on all GVSU social platforms.
Coordinating a social media contest takes just as much, if not more, planning than day-to-day posts. Here are the top three things we learned, and what we want to change for next year’s contest.
Find the time-frame sweet spot.
We accepted photos for a little more than two weeks. At first, our team thought this might be too long. Looking at how many submissions we received, we could have ended the contest a few days earlier. However, we were waiting on unpredictable Michigan weather and for the leaves to change before we started. Every contest is different, so our tip is to know what you are asking of people and give them enough time to participate.
Set an entry cap.
We loved seeing all the great campus beauty shots, however, some people submitted more than five photos. This made picking the top six difficult. If someone submitted more than one photo to the contest that our team liked, we picked our favorite from that one person to keep the top six fair. Next year, the #GVFall rules will be more clear on entries.
Create an efficient voting system.
The top six photos were posted on Twitter as a thread and as a gallery on Instagram. Counting votes from Twitter was simple, because people favorited the tweet that had their top pick. With the Instagram gallery, each photo had a number associated to it and followers were asked to comment the photo’s number to vote. The post garnered more than 700 comments, which lead to creating a spreadsheet and counting each vote by hand. In the future, finding one way for people to vote would save time and energy.
If something in your contest doesn’t go as planned, remember that part of hosting a social media contest is trial and error to learn what works best for your page and followers. Be clear and consistent with messaging and you’ll be on your way to having a successful contest!
Written by Olivia Windorf
The social media landscape is constantly advancing, sometimes even overnight. Organizations, clubs and departments around Grand Valley could greatly benefit from the positive exposure and self-expression that accompanies a strong social media presence. Strategically creating social media accounts has been proven to increase awareness about the mission statement, vision and goals of thousands of institutions and brands.
By creating social accounts, you get to choose how to brand your organization and the message behind it. A few notable benefits of establishing a presence on social media include increased traffic for your site, connect with your audience, and boost awareness.
Here are some important strategies to consider when creating new social media accounts:
Before you create a new account:
- You don’t have to create an account on every platform, at least not immediately.
- Focus more on platforms your target audience is engaging with.
- Set goals and objectives
- Think of what you really want the page to consist of
- What will be your “voice” and tone on social?
- What tactics will you use to gain followers?
- Do you want to incorporate contests?
If you already have accounts on social media platforms, the steps outlined below can be used to revamp and update the current content being posted.
After you’ve created a new account:
- Create a social media calendar.
This will help you keep track of important dates and content while also allowing you to craft copy in advance.
- Assign certain platforms to team members.
It can be daunting to attempt to juggle the content, strategy and managing multiple social media posts. This is especially so if you have limited resources. Delegating tasks can save a lot of time, energy, sanity, and even budget dollars for your team.
- Pay attention to the competition.
You never know what a little inspiration will strike. Keep your eyes open for new ideas and concepts that other users are sharing out on social, and how those ideas can be customized to fit your brand.
When creating content:
- Quality over quantity. The material that you put online is going to represent the entirety of your organization, so be sure to choose wisely and strategically with what content you post.
- Be consistent. Most platforms use algorithms to base each user’s
timelines off of posts and accounts they engage with the most.
- Facebook and Instagram will decrease the views of your posts on your followers timeline if the posting from your account decreases so the more consistent you are on social media, the more time you get on your follower’s timelines. However, be aware of the fine line between posting often and posting too much.
- Leverage third party sites to schedule posts.
- For Instagram, it has to be a business account in order to schedule future posts. For Twitter, tweets can only be scheduled using Twitter ads. But there are many sites that will do this for you.
- Some reliable websites to use for scheduling posts are: Sprout Social, Buffer and Hootsuite.
By staying consistent in your social strategy, content and values, your target audience will gain an understanding of the message you want to communicate. It’s all about trying to reach your designated consumer from any angle or platform that they may be using, and getting them to engage and respond in as many ways as possible.