What do Michigan State’s Sparty, Syracuse’s Otto the Orange and Wisconsin’s Bucky Badger have in common? Well, for one, they’re college mascots. But, they all share a greater purpose, and that’s to bring a sense of belonging, pride and loyalty to the institutions they represent. Long after students graduate (and parents stop paying the tuition), mascots keep them connected to their alma maters.
Mascots are shared by all students, creating a tight-knit community feel on campus. Aside from a jazzy costume and an energetic human, social media can give your mascot personality. Here’s how to make your mascot a social media sensation and inspire endless school spirit!
Develop a personality in line with your school’s tone.
Mascots are refreshing because they’re not all business. It’s okay if they’re sarcastic or silly. They can use GIFs and emojis and join in conversations regarding trending topics and holidays. Institutions as a whole must be more polished on social media, but mascots are allowed to be creative and personal.
While it’s important for your mascot to have its own personality, it should still reflect your school’s tone. Mascots have long histories that connect students from 50 years ago with students today. Not to mention, your mascot is intended to be an extension of your higher institution. It should always feel inclusive – never separate.
Build a content library based on your mascot’s interactions.
To become someone worth following, your mascot needs a vast content library. Look through the images you already have that can be repurposed. Old pictures are great for Throwback Thursdays, anniversaries and milestones.
It also helps to set up photo shoots with your mascot. Have them stand in front of a plain background and do a number of poses so that you can use the material for social media posts, contests, giveaways, voting and more. With so many filters and apps, you can easily edit the photos based on their purpose.
On campus, snap photos of your mascot hugging students, using the computer lab, grabbing coffee at the coffee shop and more. The intent is to give students a glimpse of what life is like on campus through the mascot’s eyes.
Look to your school’s influencers for promotion.
Encourage students, staff, parents and alumni to share photos of themselves with the mascot. Mascot sightings are always special, so encourage people to share them. You might even want to create a hashtag when sharing these photos so that the conversation stays organized.
As conversations take place on social media following a big upset, a hyped up win, finals week and others, make use of the hashtags associated with the event. Students are more engaged and watching social media as a result, so they’re more likely to support your message.
Finally, encourage all offices on campus to use your mascot power. Fundraising, government affairs, student affairs and others have just as much to gain as athletics. For example, you can invite your mascot to an open house, do free photo shoots during a campus tour or have the mascot hand out promotional items during the first week of classes.
Mascots are a breath of fresh air. They can be silly, clumsy and even braggy, as long as their personality is likeable and in tone with your institution. If your mascot has been hanging low, it’s time to give them an update and leverage social media to promote your efforts.