The day your college students become college grads is among the most important events on campus during any school year. It’s also logistically complex, with active involvement from academic affairs, facilities, and everything in between.

At the same time, the day when your seniors bring out their graduation caps is also a central marketing opportunity. With all the pomp and circumstance, the right graduation promotion ideas can turn your commencement into a giant graduation party.

As with any campus event promotion ideas, it’s a holistic party. Learn how you can leverage commencement to become a core communication tool for all of your audiences, from your graduating class and their family members to high school students just looking at colleges and beyond.

Why Promoting Commencement Day Is Crucial for Alumni Engagement and New Student Enrollment

Coming up with and executing your graduation party ideas provides plenty of benefits. From increasing attendance to better engaging your students as they become alumni, the benefits are both tangible and intangible.

The graduation promotion ideas we’ll share in this guide revolve around engagement. They’re designed to make the day easy to access and turn what is otherwise a formal event into a more informal grad party that your students will remember for the rest of their lives. Supercharge your commencement day marketing, and the benefits for all of your core audiences will be significant.

Alumni Donations

Especially as federal and state funding for higher education remains uncertain, donations from alums have become an ever-increasing priority for colleges and universities. Even beyond monetary donations, engaged alums benefit institutions by building a better professional network, mentoring students, and helping with recruitment initiatives.

Commencement is the day when your graduates enter the real world and become alums. “Oh, the places you’ll go” becomes not just a cliched phrase but a decision point: will your institution remain with them in spirit, wherever they might go? How you engage your graduating students leading up to this day can play a significant role in the answer.

According to the 2023 CASE Insights on Alumni Engagement survey, alums less than five years away from graduation are actually more likely to donate to their alma mater than those six to ten years out. A successful graduation season can ensure that this initial engagement gets off on the right foot.

Signal Professional Success to Prospective Students

It’s not just about your graduating seniors, of course. Commencement is such an important part of the campus event cycle in part because of the signal it sends to prospective students.

We know that students now look at prospective colleges as early as middle school. We also know that outcomes and the success of graduates are among the most important decision factors. Showcasing students who are graduating signals the way you prioritize those outcomes and how your institution is helping your students succeed.

This is not just an opportunity to congratulate your students or give them graduation gifts. It’s an opportunity to showcase the hard work they put in to get to this point with a big “congrats!” With the right graduation promotion ideas, you can inspire your future students to live up to the generations of graduates who came before them.

Encourage Seniors to Participate in the Ceremony

Finally, and perhaps most straightforward, effective marketing of the big day can help your seniors engage while on campus one last time before they enter the real world. Done right, commencement doesn’t just become the ceremonial move of the tassel but a centerpiece of their final semester and a celebration of their four years at school.

Of course, to get there, you need the right graduation promotion ideas. Go beyond graduation gifts and graduation cards to build a strategic effort specifically designed for long-term engagement and success.

7 Ways to Promote Your College Graduation Ceremony

Graduates enjoying graduation day even more after experiencing a campaign of graduation promotion ideas

From the moment they receive the graduation announcement, how do your students, alums, and family members hear about the biggest and most important day during their four years of college? Can they find what they’re looking for, and are you building the excitement they need to take your efforts to the next level?

With these graduation promotion ideas, you can get there. From logistical tools to virtual photo booths, consider this your tutorial to building a commencement event marketing strategy your audiences will love.

1. Promote a Custom Interactive 3D Map

Graduation will welcome many guests on campus. In the case of family members, some of your guests may be coming back to school for the first time since their student moved in. The more you can guide them around campus before and during the big day, the better.

Start with the functional pieces, like denoting the parking lots for guests and providing details about the venue. Printable maps can also help those who are not comfortable navigating via phone. But that’s just the beginning. With the right interactive map, your marketing efforts can go much further.

Show the areas where students and family members may want to take pictures. Highlight local hotels and restaurants. After all, a fancy post-commencement dinner can be a great gift. Then, promote your custom map on all channels your audiences may notice, from social media to email and beyond.

2. Create Social Media Countdowns

For your graduating seniors, commencement starts at least a month before the big day—and, often, much earlier. Social media is the perfect place to get everyone excited.

Start a countdown that outlines the various milestones ahead of the big day. Post a different visual connected to commencement for each relevant date. You can even create a commencement-specific hashtag that allows your audience to participate in the posting and further builds up the excitement.

3. Feature Spotlights of Recent (or New) Graduates

No guide with graduation promotion ideas could be complete without focusing on the success you’re celebrating. That makes this campus event the perfect opportunity to highlight your graduates.

Leading up to the event, start identifying the stories from last year’s class. How far have they come? Where have they found success? But don’t stop there. Instead, find members of your graduating class who already know where they’re going next and spotlight them, as well. That makes the excitement of commencement more real for everyone involved, not just those featured.

4. Promote the Commencement Day Speakers

Those long speeches bookending the presentation of diplomas don’t have to be boring. Quite the opposite, in fact. You might have a famous commencement speaker, the president of your alum association, or high university officials. Highlight the reasons their speeches are worth listening to with promotions ahead of the event.

Start with the announcement of your speakers. From there, share the reasons why they’re speaking, and consider posting video content directly from them. You can even create keepsakes of a significant commencement speaker that your graduating seniors and their families can take with them.

5. Create Custom Filters for Social Media

Plenty of your guests will post on social media on the day itself. The more you can help them make that post memorable, the better.

Snapchat and TikTok filters, for example, are a great way to share the excitement in more structured ways. Design them in your school colors, and use a standard hashtag to make it even simpler. Then, let your students know where to find them and how you’ll share their videos to prompt more engagement.

6. Offer a Live Stream for Alumni and Remote Guests

Not everyone will be able to make it for the big day. Especially for students from out of state and alums who have since moved away, it can be difficult to enjoy commencement to the same level. It’s what makes offering a live stream of your ceremony and the festivities around it one of the most important graduation promotion ideas.

Of course, you’ll need to promote it ahead of time. Include the link in your email and physical communications, as well as on your website. A dry run also helps to ensure that by the time graduation comes, everything will be well-prepared to function seamlessly.

7. Create a QR Code Scavenger Hunt on Campus

The final tactic among our graduation promotion ideas revolves around campus exploration. Create a scavenger hunt that graduates and their families can participate in. You get bonus points when the stops are relevant to commencement, like your career center or popular picture opportunities.

Through a QR code system, you can connect the physical campus with virtual experiences. Offer a small price, like a gift card to your bookshop, to ensure increased participation.

Host a Successful Commencement Ceremony With Localist Events and Interactive Maps from Concept3D

With commencement less than a month away for most institutions, it’s time to take your planning and marketing efforts to the next level. Engage your graduating students, alums, and even prospective students through promotional ideas that actively engage them.

Of course, even the best graduation promotion ideas don’t work well in isolation. Instead, they need to be part of a larger promotion and communication plan designed to make the day successful. That’s where Concept3D and Localist come in.

Through Localist Events, you can create streamlined communications with every bit of information your audience needs to know. Meanwhile, Interactive Maps from Concept3D allow you to communicate every space-based part of the event, from parking to the above-mentioned scavenger hunts. Ready to take graduation day to the next level? Request your demo today.