While working as a Student Associate for the MarComms team at BEAM (aka. Stanford's career education center), a key priority was to grow our social media presence and establish a digital brand which aligned with our Identity Guide and appealed to our student body. Our Instagram account was just a year old at the time with only about ~350 followers, many of whom were partner employers or members of the team at BEAM. As a result, I knew we needed a way to attract more students while showcasing meaningful and consistent content, so I suggested the idea for this 6-month Instagram social media campaign.
Copywriting & Content Sourcing
Building a Brand for BEAM
Prior to launching the campaign, I noticed that most of our Instagram posts either publicized upcoming events (which appealed only to a small handful of students) or highlighted general career resources (which had no calls to action and didn't cater to students' highly individualistic needs). This was what led me to wonder:
what type of content would be able to appeal to a many students despite the wide variety of career paths and academic focuses amongst them? What type of content would best align with BEAM's identity as both a formal university office and a comfortable space for students to seek career mentorship and guidance?
Drawing from my own perspectives as a fellow student at Stanford, I realized I was often too overwhelmed with my academics and extracurriculars to notice posts about career resources and events. Social media was a place for me to clear my mind or take a break, so the posts that caught my attention were the ones that could distract me or uplift my mood. With that in mind, I developed a 6-month series of motivational posts aligned with academic and career-related timelines, complete with clever captions recommending relevant BEAM events and resources as solutions to current forms of career and academic stress. The series ended up receiving a lot of support from students and other staff members at BEAM, successfully spurring increased online engagement with our Instagram account.
While building the series, some of my key design considerations included ...
#1: BRAND DISTINCTION
As an official Stanford-associated office, BEAM was tied to an existing Identity Guide to maintain consistency with the university brand. However, BEAM is also known for its uniquely personable and approachable reputation amongst students — as a result, I designed the motivational posts to align with university-specified colors and fonts, but incorporated a colorful and modern aesthetic that wouldn't feel too stoic or official when juxtaposed with a students' typical Instagram feed. For instance, rather than integrating a lot of Cardinal Red or Stanford's formal serif typeface (which students might find unsettling amidst their mindless Instagram scrolling), I played with the character spacing between our primary sans serif font and relied more on lesser-used but university-approved shades of blue, yellow, and green.
The colorful and modern aesthetic was also meant to appeal to our college-aged audience, hopefully emulating BEAM's personable (and less official) reputation both in person and online. To create an even deeper sense of connection and relatability with this audience, I integrated images of Stanford as the background for each post. In addition to the "iconic" and well-known photos of campus that evoke an immediate sense of school pride and spirit, I made sure to include "hidden" views of campus to evoke a sense of pathos — snapshots of our campus that are rarely publicized but which are seen by students nearly every single day. For example: the view from a popular study spot behind the East Asian Library, the view outside a window at the Student Union Building, or the view on a rainy day while biking towards the center of campus.
#3: SPACING & LAYOUT
Because the motivational series consisted of biweekly Instagram posts, I created two template designs for greater flexibility in showcasing various quotes and images of campus. The Sunday template was optimized for "noisier" backgrounds, while our midweek template was optimized for darker backgrounds. Specifically, the Sunday posts featured a semi-opaque white circle which ensures that the quotes are legible even atop distractingly detailed images, while the midweek posts featured quotes in a white font that contrasted more effectively against images with deeper tones or dimmer lighting. The two templates also offer flexibility for showcasing different quote lengths, allowing me to control where line breaks occur in order to maintain the easiest reading flow.
The Final Product
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