If I cornered you and made you tell me the first thing you notice at a typical college graduation I am pretty sure of the answer. Admit it, you would reply with graduation caps! In recent years, mortarboard art has exploded at ceremonies across the country. Students have embraced both self-expression and their artistic side to create bold and colorful statements on the top of commencement headgear. To many students, it is a big deal.
Coastal Carolina University is no different from other colleges in the nation. Our students love to decorate their caps and proudly show them off on graduation day. For photographers and social media marketers, we appreciate the passion that creative students bring to this art form. You see, it gives us another angle to cover besides boring images of the commencement speaker, similar-looking photos of students flashing their diplomas, and generic venue shots. The option to sprinkle in mortarboard art throughout graduation coverage provides a breath of fresh air.
Over the course of the four graduation ceremonies this past weekend, I made sure to feature enough creative caps to liven up the overall story of our 2015 #CCU Spring Commencement. However, I made sure not to over-do it and make the significant moment excessively about weirdly-shaped hats with colors, bows, and beads on them.
But when Monday came around and it had been over 48 hours since the last student crossed the stage, I decided to make #CCUSocialMedia devoted to mortarboard art. I took 40 images depicting the best decorated hats from the weekend and threw them into a Facebook album. I then instructed our social media audience to vote for their favorite cap by liking the image. Voters could like as many of the photos as they wanted. I set the contest deadline for today at 5 p.m. and promised the graduate with the most votes a Chanticleer prize pack.
It didn’t take long for our young graduates to get competitive. I didn’t tell anyone that I was doing this contest. However, as soon as I made the promotion live, word spread and any former student who had their cap featured in the competition immediately knew. A lot of sharing, liking, and campaigning took place over the course of the next 27 hours.
When 5 p.m. hit today I announced our winner. Garnering over 1,300 likes is the cap below this paragraph. To be honest, I don’t even know what this technique is called but I think it might be rhinestoning? I saw that word mentioned on the comment thread. I also gathered from the comments that something like this had to have taken a very long time. Again, I am not privy to the great effort it takes to supposedly create a design like this but wonderful job to Chandler Parnell, the proud owner of the mortarboard.
I decided to offer a second place prize too. I must say that I totally missed the boat on this one as well. I had never heard the term “Bye Felicia” until I looked it up last night when the image started to gain a great deal of its 530 likes. For those who are as clueless as me, it is a phrase from the movie “Friday.”
Several other images earned over 300 likes. It was fun to see what graduates were saying to motivate their friends and family to vote. Our album was shared 85 times and people with absolutely no connection to any of the hats expressed how much they loved the idea of the contest and the creativity of our former students.
I know college commencement season is just now heating up so we can expect thousands (maybe millions) of more cool mortarboards to be proudly worn on the heads of graduates. Maybe if all university social media managers did a similar type of contest, we could take all the winners from different schools and offer a national graduation cap championship. How cool would that be? Don’t Blink.