Taking a more whimsical approach to social media, the University welcomed the Class of 2022 with a playful music video featuring current students dancing on Powers Field. This Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students-sponsored video features a cappella groups, dance companies, orientation leaders, and students from all parts of campus, as they all sing along to a Princeton parody of Taylor Swift’s “22.”
“We don’t know about you, but we sure want to,” a student sings. “Everything will be alright, if we just keep dancing like we’re ’22.”
This type of approach to social media is relatively new for ODUS. According to Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Students Thomas Dunne, ODUS’s social media presence was previously more pragmatic, targeting student organization leaders and sharing announcements and information about events.
Now, however, ODUS posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram showcase student involvement and chronicle campus renovation through a cultivated social media presence.
“We started, in a serendipitous way, developing a particular voice,” Dunne said.
This new voice includes the use of “unruly” hashtags like #tshirtsonfleek and #princetagram, as well as humorous gifs.
“It’s a great way to connect with students and create ways for students to get involved on campus,” Dunne said.
Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Students and Manager of Strategic Communications Bryant Blount also views ODUS’s social media presence as a central way to share messages and content that touch the lives of many students.
In addition to posting, ODUS also comments on student posts and responds to comments, participating in the conversation.
“This is exactly what we do when we’re walking across Cannon Green and running into students we work with,” said Blount. “We’re Princeton staff, and alums, and recent grads. We are with you.”
For the Class of 2022 welcome video, student orientation leaders, according to Orientation co-chair Evelyn Wu ’19, had approached ODUS with the idea for a fun, engaging way to make the incoming first-years feel welcome: a parody of Taylor Swift’s hit song “22.”
ODUS supported the initiative from its inception and played a guiding role in recruiting interested student groups.
Members from eight different a cappella groups — including the Nassoons, Tigerlilies, Footnotes, and Wildcats — worked together to brainstorm lyrics and coordinate parts. An undergraduate, Nicolas Chae ’21, directed the video.
“We wanted to do something that had never really been done before, and create a video that encompassed the beautiful campus, student life, and talent that Princeton has to offer,” Chae wrote in a statement. “It’s not often that universities make an initiative to create content for their students that’s really relatable and funny and not boring or overdone.”
Charlie Coburn ’19, a Footnotes member, sang a solo in the video.
“The hope was to make them feel welcome, and to show that we’re really excited to have them here,” Coburn said. Synthesis of different groups was one of the main points of the video.
“Even though everyone has their niche, people can still get together. There’s a lot of collaboration,” said Amber Lin ’19, who served as music director.
Another aim of the video was to familiarize new students with campus culture. Key locations, such as Frist Campus Center, the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, Hoagie Haven, and Wawa, were featured, along with a variety of student activities.
“You get to see these Princeton landmarks,” Wu said.
According to featured students, the video offered a way to get to know the layout of University even before stepping foot on campus.
The video, which was posted to the Class of 2022 Facebook group, received positive comments and feedback from incoming students.
“I thought the video was in really good taste, and fun, and had a welcoming spirit in a genuine way. It talked about all the parts of Princeton people talk about, like Hoagie Haven and not doing their homework,” Josh Eastman ’22 said.
ODUS’s use of social media will continue to evolve in the next year, according to Ian Deas, program coordinator. Upcoming initiatives include expanding use of platforms, relaunching old platforms, and exploring the use of different accounts for different purposes.
“We’re trying to follow where the energy is,” Dunne said, explaining ODUS’s expansion from Facebook into Twitter and Instagram.
Deas said that ODUS continues to refine its use of social media by following prominent accounts, identifying trends, and reading the news — like a recent New York Times article that mentioned the Class of 2022 welcome video as an example of colleges’ increased use of social media to connect with their students.
“There’s so much of marking beginnings and important days and transitions online with social media,” Dunne said.
“It’s a way to welcome them before they even enter FitzRandolph Gate,” Deas said.