MSUM commencement ceremonies take over Twitter

On Friday, Dragon pride swelled over social media as the two commencement ceremonies took place. Graduating seniors and audience members were encouraged to tweet their support, Dragon pride and excitement by using #MSUM2014 on Twitter.

“MSUM is committed to providing a campus that mirrors the world in which our students will live and work,” Provost Anne Blackhurst said. “That world is increasingly mobile and connected.”

Family members and friends who couldn’t make it to the event sent congratulatory tweets as they watched online; graduates reflected on the most memorable moments of their college careers; and audience members stated their pride in 140 characters or less.

By Friday afternoon, MSUM’s designated hashtag garnered over 2,500 tweets, resulting in a national trend on Twitter. #MSUM2014 made over 1.5 million impressions, but the biggest success was the excited engagement within the walls of Nemzek Fieldhouse.

“Commencement is, above all, a celebration of our students. It’s important to preserve the pomp and circumstance and traditions that denote the gravity of the occasion,” Blackhurst said. “But it’s also important to provide an occasion that is focused on the student experience. Our students had a blast.”

Read Inforum’s article here:


Social media-heavy MSUM graduation ceremony drives online buzz

By: Erik Burgess, INFORUM

MOORHEAD – For a brief moment Friday, it was cooler to be a Dragon than to be Justin Bieber.

While some universities have shunned smartphone use during graduation ceremonies, Minnesota State University Moorhead embraced selfie culture during Friday’s commencement.

With a smartphone in one hand and a diploma in the other, graduating Dragons took selfies, or self-portraits, with professors, advisers, friends and family throughout the ceremony, posting updates on Twitter with the hashtag #MSUM2014.

More than 1,200 tweets – or short, online messages – were shared during the morning commencement, and #MSUM2014 was trending nationally Friday, meaning it was one of the most tweeted topics in the country, said David Wahlberg, the university’s executive director for communication and marketing.

Tweets with the hashtag #MSUM2014 were displayed on the big screen during Minnesota State University Moorhead’s commencement ceremonies at Nemzek Fieldhouse on Friday, May 16, 2014. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

The tweets from the morning commencement alone could’ve been seen by up to 1 million people, according to a university news release. During the school’s separate 2 p.m. commencement ceremony, #MSUM2014 also joined the list of hastags trending across the U.S.

“I’ve been told we were beating out a Justin Bieber hashtag, so that’s pretty cool,” Wahlberg said.

Selfies have become wildly popular in the last year. Even President Barack Obama has taken numerous smartphone self-portraits with world leaders and celebrities. Selfie was added to the Oxford Dictionary last year.

But some institutions have been wary to allow smartphone-happy students to tweet during graduation.

Bryant University in Rhode Island banned selfies at graduation this year, saying if all 758 graduates stopped to take photos, it would make the ceremony unbearably long, according to a Reuters report.

Kent State University in Ohio created a “selfie zone” with large frames and special backdrops for graduates in an effort to corral the photo snapping into special areas.

North Dakota State University, which has its commencement at 10 a.m. today, is allowing cellphone use during the ceremony but is not promoting any sort of hashtag campaign, said Anne Robinson-Paul, an NDSU spokeswoman.

MSUM students, on the other hand, were encouraged to tweet from wherever they pleased. Student Senate President Kevin Struxness even took a selfie from the stage during his commencement speech, with hundreds of seniors seated behind him.

Wahlberg said MSUM decided a few weeks ago it would encourage social media use for this first time in this year’s spring graduation, when 930 students were awarded degrees. On scoreboards and screens all about Nemzek Fieldhouse was the hashtag #MSUM2014.

The university handed out cards to students encouraging them to use the hashtag and “Tweet your Dragon Pride.” Student tweets were also shared on big screens during the ceremony.

“This is a way that people communicate nowadays and show their pride,” Wahlberg said.

Students seemed to appreciate the gesture.

“It’s awesome to see a university embrace technology instead of doing the same old thing every year!” tweeted student Brady Speicher.

Another student tweeted: “Finally graduated! Hard to believe it’s been 4 years! Now off to the real world, eek!!”

Just remember to include “trending” on your resume.

Even the university’s President-elect Anne Blackhurst posted several selfies during commencement, saying in one tweet:

“Can’t wait to see all our @MSUMoorhead grads in their caps and gowns! #MSUM2014 #DragonPride”

In another tweet, Blackhurst said encouraging social media use at graduation is “a great way to spread the excitement of our graduates and our pride in them!”

Wahlberg said MSUM will likely continue to encourage social media use at future commencements.

“I think we’d be in trouble if we didn’t (bring it back), based on the fantastic response we got,” he said.

Of course, #MSUM2014 wasn’t the only trending topic on Friday. Godzilla, the radioactive sea-monster who stars in a new Hollywood blockbuster, was trending at the same time as MSUM commencement.

Perhaps he, too, wanted to show a little #DragonPride.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518

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