In the world of social media, what a difference a year makes

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I find myself bewildered by social media. Facebook didn’t become a “thing” until mid-senior year when I was in high school — and at the time, you weren’t able to create an account unless you had a college email. When the floodgates opened a year later, “everyone” scrambled to set up an account, upload photos, write posts and leave unsolicited commentary.

Facebook was for teenagers and 20-somethings who wanted to share their lives online and exercise the right to spam everyone with weird cat videos. Less than 10 years later — and now it’s for “old people,” according to my students.

I seriously don’t get it.

Fast forward to the fall of 2018 when my yearbook staff was struggling to agree on which social media platform we should use to communicate with our community. I barely got the word Facebook out before I was shot down with a dozen eye-rolls and at least one audible sigh. My staff proceeded to inform me that nobody uses it unless they’re “hella old” and that Instagram was clearly the way to go.

Admittedly, I resisted.

Instagram? Really? How can we share images without spoiling what’s in the book? If we’re not sharing photos or stories from the book, what other content could we share? Does my staff really have time for managing an account? Do I, as the adviser, really have time to manage one more thing? Is this a necessity or something that’s going to quickly die the minute we create the account? Ugh.

I know what the advisers out there are thinking… this is something the kids can run with because nobody has time to deal with one more thing. After a year of rolling my eyes and resisting, I was converted to the platform my students used to build interest in the yearbook and the program.

I introduce to you: The Hype Video.

For those of you who are probably asking yourself, “What does video have to do with yearbook?” I can say with all honesty that video has completely revolutionized the way we yearbook.

For the past three years, my staff has been trained to capture at least a minute of video while photographing an event. We started this journey by creating an end-of-the-year video for our last assembly. This quickly morphed into a yearbook hype video, which brought things full-circle when we unveiled that year’s book for the first time during our distribution party.

We’re now pumping out mini-seasonal hype videos online, and let me tell you they’re a huge hit. Our first was a teaser for our rivalry week face-off, “Battle of the Bell.” Within minutes of posting the 24-second video, we had racked up 16 comments, 20 new followers and the video had been viewed more than 1,200 times.

The best part? It only contained four video clips. Simple, easy, done.

From there, we progressed into a full-blown, four-and-a-half minute rivalry video that was played for our student body during a Pep Con assembly. For us old folks, the video also found its way onto Facebook, where it racked up 6,200 views, 150 likes, 21 comments and 63 shares.

As my staff continues to experiment with video, we have uncovered a powerful and growing connection with our students. Yearbook is now at the forefront of their social media feeds, and we consistently share content highlighting the most important part of our school — our students. Teenagers loved seeing themselves and being tagged in our videos. It’s like a sneak peek of the book before the real deal is delivered.

The staff came up with rules to ensure that online content doesn’t spoil the gems we reserve just for the book.

First, they can only use photos we know are not being printed in the book. We make sure to remind our audience the best photos are for the printed piece.

Secondly, no full stories or captions. They write a brief caption, but we make sure to save our stories for the book — where they belong.

We tag as many people as possible. Tagging has allowed us to cast a wider net and drive more traffic. We went from around 100 followers at the beginning of the school year to more than 800. The staff posted live stories with action shots from games and events as well as polls, quizzes and Q&A’s to get our audience engaged and interested in yearbook. They even asked students to contribute ideas or content that could be used in the book.

With all this activity, I have gone from an Insta-skeptic to a cheerleader. It’s become another place for us to share coverage we would normally delete or let collect dust — and now, we include more students and their stories.

After months of building a following and pumping out videos, we’ve found a way to not only interact with our community but also reach them in a new way that makes yearbook relevant.

Now, if only we could make Facebook cool again because old folks, including myself, still use it.

Mead HS • Spokane, WA


IN JUST A MINUTE, a yearbook staffer on the scene can capture footage for a hype video. Publishing highlights of the school year on Instagram has been a catalyst for school spirit and connectivity at Mead High School. Atop the shoulders of the football player, staffer Nicholas Nelson uses an Osmo + gimbal camera to capture the fans’ bell-ringing tradition after the annual rivalry game. PHOTO BY JOSH ALLEN