Social Walls for Universities

Tips and Best Practices for Using Social Walls for Universities

Students are sitting and chatting on sofa benches in a lobby. Behind them, a social wall is displayed on a very large screen spanning the first and part of the second floor of the gallery. The social wall shows graduation photo posts by students.

A social wall can be a wonderful companion tool for university marketers, used for various events and happenings throughout the year. Over the years, more and more customers have started using Walls.io to set up social walls for universities. They use them for on-campus events, virtual events, and even as permanent fixtures on campus.

The use cases are extremely varied. So, here’s a roundup of social wall examples from our university customers. Let what they’re doing inspire you, and learn how you too can use a social wall at your university, institute or department.

There are many different ways to implement social walls for universities. But before we jump into the use cases, let’s have a look at what a social wall can do for your university and how you can implement it.

How a social wall benefits your university

With an ever-changing student body, new students coming in every year and others graduating and leaving, it’s so important for universities to create a sense of belonging. Of course, creating and maintaining a connection with students and alumni is also important for a university’s fundraising efforts.

A social wall is a fantastic support tool. It allows universities to bundle and collect content from specific social media accounts, hashtags, RSS feeds, or even directly upload content to the wall. This way, the whole community can be kept up-to-date and stay in touch.

Social walls can help you:

  • Portray a positive image of the university to the outside world.
  • Connect current students, alumni, parents, lecturers, university staff and even donors..
  • Foster on-campus interaction and engagement.
  • Boost engagement during virtual events.

Different ways to implement social walls at your university

There are two main ways you can incorporate a social wall into your university’s roster of marketing tools:

  1. Online: For example, embedded on a website.
  2. Offline: Displayed on a physical screen somewhere.

Social walls embedded on your website or microsite

A social wall is a great addition to a university’s website. It constantly brings fresh content to your website from your various social media profiles. It also lets you show off user-generated content (posts created by students, alumni, staff, etc.) which is an excellent form of social proof.

Embedding Walls.io is easy and straightforward. Simply adjust the look of your social wall in your Walls.io dashboard to make it seamlessly fit in with your website design. Grab the iframe code and paste it into your website.

You can embed the social wall on your landing page and keep it pretty general or create a wall for a specific section of your website.

Here’s Tiffin University’s social wall, embedded prominently on the website to give visitors some insight into what’s going on at the university. The social wall is not tied to any particular topic, allowing the content to change and feature all kinds of posts throughout the school year.

The Tiffing “Social Scene” social wall embedded on the website.

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Social walls displayed on your campus

You can also create a real-life social wall display by putting the social wall on a screen of any size and setting it up somewhere on your campus where people will walk past it and interact with it.

These walls usually run long-term and are a great place for providing information about the university, giving people an insight into what’s going on and creating a connection between students, staff, alumni, visitors, etc. They also serve as great conversation starters.

Case Western Reserve University displays two social walls on a huge LED wall in one of their main campus buildings.

An excellent example is Case Western Reserve University. CWRU has incorporated a Walls.io social wall into a two-storey multimedia wall on campus. Aside from regularly showcasing contributions from students and departments, the university also offers event organisers temporary use of the social wall — an important benefit when renting out the building as an event space.

The Media Wall is also a nice selling point for conferences or workshops hosted in our venue. Oftentimes, these large events have a designated hashtag. We incorporate these hashtags into the wall, and event organizers love seeing content show up that’s specifically about them and their guests.


– Jason Hawk, CWRU

Check out our showcase blog post to find out more about how CWRU uses social walls on campus.

The University of Florida uses digital signage to display the social wall during school-wide events such as graduation. And they don’t just show it on any old screen but a jumbotron!

The University of Florida shows the social wall on a jumbotron. Source: Instagram

If you’d like to display dynamic social content on public screens on your campus, make sure to choose a powerful, secure and flexible digital signage solution. We’ve partnered with some of the best vendors, such as ScreenCloud, to provide you with a smooth experience.

Use case: Social walls for in-person and virtual events

Throughout the school year, universities host many events, both one-off and recurring. Some take place in person, some happen virtually (at least since the global coronavirus pandemic), others are hybrid events. Social walls help you celebrate important milestones.

During in-person events, you can set up screens with the social wall or display it using a projector. These sorts of displays are always a great icebreaker. People tend to congregate around them and start interacting with each other. They might try to find their own posts on the wall or comment on something someone else has posted.

But virtual events can also benefit greatly from a social wall. Similar to an embed on your website, you can integrate a social wall into pretty much any virtual event platform. While face-to-face conversation can obviously not be replicated exactly, a social wall at a virtual event allows people to connect with each other over great distances.

Aside from embedding your wall on your event platform, you can also incorporate it into a live-stream. Learn more about using social walls for virtual events.

Of course, even outside of special events, social walls are a helpful tool for some unis, for example, by helping them stay in touch with students during lockdown.

Commencement/graduation ceremonies

The highlight of most people’s university experience is when they graduate. So it’s unsurprising that a lot of our university customers have set up social walls to celebrate Graduation Day. The University of Tasmania Graduation social wall is a great example.

The University of Tasmania’s graduation social wall.

A dedicated social wall gives students, parents and everyone else a chance to share and celebrate this day together. Proud parents and students can share graduation pics and see them pop up on the social wall. 

Here, a student from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley shares their excitement about graduating.

A graduate’s post on the University of Texas Rio Grande social wall.

Meanwhile, university staff can also use the wall to share information and official announcements. The Graduation Team at Queen Mary University London uses the social wall to spread the word about where students will receive their certificates and other pertinent information.

A message from Queen Mary University’s admin team on the social wall.

Many universities set up their walls just in time for each commencement ceremony, but it can make sense to keep a graduation wall around indefinitely.

Champlain College, for example, has students graduating in August, December, and May. The college likes to keep each commencement wall around a bit longer, so graduates can look back and share the wall with friends and family. Plus, they start promoting each wall in good time: “We begin our #ChampGrad social campaign about a month or so before graduation each year, so people are aware of our hashtag”, says Kaylee Sullivan, Champlain’s Community & Content Marketing Manager.

The solution for Champlain College is to keep the graduation wall running permanently and embed it on Champlain’s commencement microsite. Champlain has set up a second wall for all other social wall uses, which is used in rotation for various events on- and off-campus.

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Virtual commencement ceremonies

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual commencement ceremonies now get their own category rather than getting lumped in with graduation ceremonies in general. Why? Because when you have to move your entire celebration into a virtual environment, social media turns into an essential tool that helps you create a sense of community.

In the first half of 2020, many of our university customers found themselves pivoting to virtual ceremonies without much of a chance to prepare. They all managed to pull off wonderful graduation ceremonies that made up for the missing in-person element with lots of big and small ways of engaging students and parents.

Most schools created elaborate virtual events, setting up microsites and live streams and creating a mix of activities and interactive options to complement the event itself. Some sent out celebratory kits that encouraged graduates to take pictures and post them online with the hashtag. They created awesome social media content, such as stickers, picture frames, virtual backgrounds etc.

Microsite with social wall for 2020 graduates at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.

Others gave parents, staff and alumni the opportunity to upload congratulatory messages on the website and found various ways of highlighting graduates and showcasing their work. And then, they tied it all together with a social wall embedded on the website, giving everyone the gift of celebrating together even though they were often thousands of miles apart.

If you want to learn more about the virtual commencement ceremonies Walls.io customers have created, then check out our post How Universities Turned Virtual Commencement Ceremonies Into An Interactive Experience.

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Conferences

Social Walls also work really well for conferences taking place on campus. Bucknell University in Pennsylvania used a social media wall at their “Digital Scholarship Conference” to engage conference attendees.

Bucknell’s social wall for the “Digital Scholarship Conference”

Use case: Social walls for specific activities throughout the year

While commencement ceremonies are probably the biggest milestones of the academic year, there are many other smaller events and activities happening both on and off-campus that are also important. These activities can last anything from a few hours to weeks, or even longer. A social wall is a great way to boost engagement during those times.

Open Days

Set up a social wall for Open Days to reach out to prospective students and their parents and make them feel welcome as they visit your school. This also works for virtual open days, of course. Send or hand out informational leaflets that point to the social wall and hashtag and display the wall somewhere on campus to catch visitors’ attention.

Monash University in Australia set up a social wall for Science Open Day, allowing everyone to share their impressions and experiences.

Monash University’s social wall for Open Day

The university specifically promoted Open Day and the hashtag #ChooseMonashScience on the website as well:

Monash University promoted the hashtag #ChooseMonashScience for Open Day front and centre on the website.

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Signing Day

Another important milestone of the school year is Signing Day. Social media is a perfect addition for Signing Day since people will be checking in from all over the world to share which university they will go to in the upcoming year.

A few years ago, Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan started using social walls to celebrate Signing Day.

A social map for Rackham’s future students on Signing Day

The university embedded the social map, using our Map layout, on the Rackham Signing Day microsite. Any posts using #IChoseUMich popped up on the map at the geographical location they were posted from.

Rackham has shared with us that, “beyond the celebratory confetti, the campaign demonstrates two key values of how Rackham serves its students: We support the diversity of Rackham graduate students’ backgrounds and experiences. And we want to create a sense of connection and continuity among the new cohort, current students, and alumni.”

Check out our showcase interview to learn more about #IChoseUMich and how the university welcomes new students in style.

Back to school and Freshers Week

Other significant milestones at universities are Back to School events and Freshers Week. The University of Toronto welcomes its students with a social wall, which is a great place for sharing information with new students.

Here you can see the University of Toronto Student Life Programs & Services account sharing the link to the student life app on the social wall. The app helps new students find their way on their new campus.

“Go everywhere with student life resources” — University of Toronto shares the link to the student life app on the social wall.

Game days

Opportunities for social walls also include Game Days, where a social wall — especially if displayed prominently at the stadium — can really help boost team spirit. It’s also a great way to keep people back at home in the loop on how the game is going.

Fundraising campaigns

Many universities use social walls for fundraising campaigns to raise money for scholarships, athletics teams, departments, repair funds, student unions, etc. The social walls support the fundraising efforts by providing a hub for visual materials, support messages and donation appeals throughout the fundraising process.

For example, La Salle University in Philadelphia used a social wall during ExplorersGive Day of Giving in 2019. The wall was embedded on a microsite along with more information and a countdown timer for the fundraising event.

La Salle University’s fundraising social wall embedded on the website

As you can see, they also added a countdown to the microsite, which is a nice touch for a fundraiser and helps create urgency and gets people to donate. The site also keeps a tally of donations so far. And after the event is over, the microsite turns into a recap of the fundraiser and already lays the groundwork for next year’s event.

Special events and celebrations

When Gordon State College got a new president in 2019, the university set up a congratulatory social wall for inauguration week. Anyone could congratulate Dr Kirk A. Nooks simply by using the hashtag #CongratsDrNooks on Twitter or the university’s Facebook page. The social wall, which collected all of their messages, was then embedded on the website.

The landing page for Gordon State College’s incoming president collects congratulatory messages on an embedded social wall.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell set up an #OPRAHatUML social wall for an event where Oprah Winfrey was a guest and speaker.

A social wall for Oprah Winfrey’s visit to University of Massachusetts Lowell

The State University of New York is using social media walls to raise excitement and engage the student community during their SUNY’s Got Your Back events, an initiative providing support for victims and survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence.

SUNY’s Got Your Back set up screens showing the social wall at various events held on any of their 64 campuses.

The SUNY’s Got Your Back social wall shown on a screen at one of the initiative’s many events

The wall helps tie the various events together under one umbrella and gives attendees a chance to connect and engage with each other and the programme.

We use our Walls.io social media wall at SUNY’s Got Your Back assembly events. Students and community members post photos and messages which are then rotated on the screens. This helps our attendees engage individually and collectively with the program in real time.


– SUNY’s Got Your Back

Use case: Social walls to show appreciation

Independent of events, a social wall can also help you show appreciation for a group of people or support them in their endeavours.

Showcasing student achievements

For example, you can use a social wall to highlight the amazing things your students are doing — whether it’s charitable work they’ve completed over the summer, prizes they’ve won, or art they’ve created during their studies. Not only is it a way to show your appreciation. It can also help graduating students showcase their success as they go out trying to find their first jobs.


The University of the Arts in Philadelphia (UArts) has set up a social wall dedicated to students’ creations, collected under the hashtags #UArtist. The social wall was embedded on a subpage of the website where specific artists are featured in more detail as well.

The #UArtist social wall showcases student art on the website.

Alumni walls

Social walls aren’t just for active students. They’re also a fantastic way of keeping in touch with alumni whose connection to their alma mater is strong. A social wall helps the university keep alumni in the loop, but it also allows former students to share their own stories and where they are in their lives right now.

The Boston University Alumni Association uses a social wall to update people, feature interviews with alumni, or simply to stay in touch with former students with a bit of banter.

Boston University’s alumni social wall

The social wall is also embedded on the alumni association’s website with the words “There’s no better way to keep up with what’s happening at BU or in the lives of your fellow Terriers.”

Some tips for a successful social wall launch

Whether you’re looking to set up a brand new social wall or want to improve your current setup, there’s so much we can all learn from what our university customers are already doing with their social walls.

Communicate your hashtag

What good are a hashtag and a social wall if no one knows about either of them? It’s important to properly communicate your hashtag to your students, visitors, staff, alumni and donors.

Here’s a good example from Macquarie University in Sydney pointing website visitors towards the graduation hashtag #mqgrads.

Macquarie University encourages students to “share your graduation experience” using the hashtag #mqgrads.

Meanwhile, the Graduation Team at Queen Mary University of London explicitly encouraged students to use the #QMULGrad hashtag to make their posts show up on the social wall on the big screen.

It helps to explicitly encourage students to share their pics using the official hashtag.

There are lots of other ways to promote your hashtag and social walls as well: flyers, posters at an event venue or the cafeteria, newsletters, through student unions, on-campus radio, via social media and many more. 

Explore different social wall layouts

Walls.io offers various layouts for your social wall. It’s easy to switch between them and see which one works best for your current use. Some look great on small devices; others are the better choice for big screens or website embeds. We also have a map layout if you want to show off where people are posting from.

For example, Barry University in Miami, Florida, chose the map layout for their social wall embed on the website. However, they also embedded the wall a second time below the map, using the fluid layout.

Barry University’s website features an embed of social map with a more standard social wall layout right underneath it.

The map layout has an awesome visual effect, but you have to wait for posts to cycle through. Visitors to the website get to see posts pop up on the map, and, thanks to the second wall below it, they can also choose to look at multiple posts at once by looking at the second wall embed.

Set up multiple walls

Sometimes it makes sense to go big, for example, when you want multiple walls to separate topics, such as CWRU’s two social walls combined on the big on-campus LED screen or Champlain using one wall for graduations and a second wall for everything else. Or, sometimes, various departments are all planning to set up social walls anyway and you can save money by having them share an account.

The Walls.io Premium account includes five social walls, so get all interested parties in your university together to share the account. Simply set up different people as admins for the account and use different walls for different campaigns, goals or target groups.

If you need more than 5 walls for your account, get in touch with our sales team for a custom solution!

Adapt your wall and go from Signing Day to Graduation Day

We do know that budgets can be tight in education and not everyone can spring for an ongoing Premium account. But don’t worry, you can still do all the awesome campaigns that you want to do by getting a Pro account and changing how you use it throughout the year.

Swap out the header, change your sources and hashtags, vary your background, change your social wall URL and go smoothly from Signing Day to Freshers Week and on to Graduation Day.

To change your social wall URL, go to your Walls.io Dashboard. Now simply change the URL in your Basic Settings panel and save your changes. 

Many universities have only one wall and switch how they use it as needed. Remember La Salle University’s Day of Giving social wall that we mentioned earlier? Later in the year, the university simply adapted the existing social wall for the commencement ceremony. With a different hashtag and a new URL, you’ve got a whole new social wall.

La Salle University changing it up with their social wall.

Give it the old college try!

Whatever your needs are, we definitely have the right social wall for you and your university. Check out our plans, and if you need any help figuring out what you need, get in touch with our team.

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Social walls for universities
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