5 Ways Schools Used Social Media to Enhance Virtual Graduations

See what the cool kids are doing.

Sydney Wright

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Sydney Wright on

Jun 12, 2020

With the rise of virtual commencement ceremonies in the wake of COVID-19 during the Spring 2020 semester, many schools and universities around the world have been using social media as a way to not only enhance graduation for their students, but also to use these students’ online presence to promote their school to a like-minded audience. Check out 5 ways we’ve seen schools accomplish this in 2020:

1) Virtual Commencement Speakers

While an in-person graduation may be lacking a university’s preferred commencement speaker due to scheduling, virtual graduations have made this issue obsolete as public figures and celebrities are able to send in pre-recorded material or video conference into an online graduation. Perhaps in the future, colleges across the work will continue with this trend, featuring virtual commencement speakers even when ceremonies are held in person. 

According to Page Six, Hunter University welcomed Alec Baldwin as a guest at their online theater program commencement. Similarly, the University at Albany had Jessie J, Awkwafina, and Avery Lipman congratulate their students through recorded clips they included in their graduation video. 

2) Giphy Stickers

In the last few years, many universities and schools have been using Giphy stickers on Instagram and Snapchat to help celebrate events such as accepted students’ day and graduation. With 2020 commencements going virtual, this was a great opportunity for schools to offer these stickers in order to promote both themselves and the students’ accomplishments. 

At Akullian Creative, we were able to create custom stickers for the University of South Florida, which were used in a “Decorate Your Cap” campaign on Instagram where students were encouraged to post on their stories a graphic of a green cap covered in USF and other graduation themed stickers.  

3) AR Filters

Another way colleges celebrated commencement this year was through augmented reality filters available on Snapchat and Instagram. In order to gain the most traction, many schools offered different filters on each social media platform. However, Instagram and Facebook are much more strict in what they accept in terms of AR filter content, while Snapchat’s process is much quicker and less restrictive. 

In addition to the stickers, have also helped The University of South Florida offer multiple AR face filters to their students through Instagram and Facebook highlighting the 2020 graduation. However, we are always working on bettering our work. This year, one of the most interesting filters we saw was by Lamar University, who created an AR graduation stage filter on Snapchat. As any creative agency eager to learn, these creations inspire and challenge us to come up with even more complex and unique designs for our clients in the future.  

4) Sharing Stories

While COVID-19 has put in-person graduations on hold, schools have tapped into the power of social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook to share their graduating students’ stories. Through the use of both feed and story posts, schools are letting students feel like their hard work has paid off by being able to share their accomplishments online with their fellow peers. By giving the students the ability to repost these, the college has the possibility of being further exposed to the student’s followers, who are most likely in their target market, possibly looking at colleges for undergrad or master programs.

According to Final Site, “Leysin American School is also honoring seniors on their Instagram stories.”  This will later be compiled into a video for their social media accounts. You can view the student stories here.

Saint Gregory’s School, a K-8 Private School in Loudonville, NY has created individual feed posts for each of their graduating eighth grade seniors with the help of Akullian Creative. Similarly to Leysin American School, these posts help commemorate and congratulate the students who are missing out on a graduation. 

5) Social Trends

As a replacement for the real thing, schools are encouraging their students to post the ceremonious “Turning of the tassel” across their social platforms. This has created multiple trends on the video-sharing platform, Tiktok, where students are participating in hashtags such as #showmeyourwalk and #tossyourcap. 

T-Mobile joined forces with the non-profit organization, Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), encouraging graduating seniors to post Tiktok videos of them sharing their at-home graduation ceremonies and tossing their caps. With every #TossYourCap post, T-Mobile will donate $5 to JAG, up to a grand total of $200,000. 

How else have you seen students and schools celebrating graduation virtually? Let us know! [email protected]