Facebook’s Holding a Virtual Graduation Event for the Class of 2020, Hosted by Oprah Winfrey

Among the various impacts of the COVID-19 shutdowns, one of more significant aspects that can get overlooked is the amount of social and development time that youngsters are losing out on by being at home, and away from schools, sports and other connective events.

Teenagers, in particular, are at a crucial stage of their lives, where they’re learning more about who they are, what they’re interested in, and where they stand in the broader social scale. The more they miss out on this, the bigger the impact becomes, so it’s important, where possible, that we look to facilitate ways for younger people to connect with friends and maintain those links, assisting in their development.

That’s where Facebook’s latest lockdown initiative comes in. With students unable to attend physical graduation ceremonies this year, Facebook’s hosting a #Graduation2020 event across both Facebook and Instagram, which will include appearances from Awkwafina, Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X and Simone Biles – and a commencement address from Oprah Winfrey.

As per Facebook:

The ceremony will acknowledge high schools and colleges in the US by name, state by state, including photos and videos of the class of 2020 and messages from deans and principals across the country. The video will be shared on Facebook Watch and available at facebook.com/facebookapp. Highlights and more will be posted to the @instagram account on Instagram, and on contributors’ social media accounts.”

In addition to the main event, graduates will also be able to host their own virtual graduation ceremonies and parties via Facebook, “with special features including a virtual graduation hub, custom filters, family and friends celebrations enabled by Messenger Rooms, and more”. Instagram’s also rolling out new creative tools and features, including a graduation countdown sticker, a celebratory sticker pack, new AR effects, and a custom hashtag page for #Graduation2020.  

That’ll provide a range of ways for graduates to participate, while it will also be interesting to see how Facebook’s new Messenger Rooms functions in what will likely be one of its first major tests.

Of course, nothing will replace the physical event, but social platforms have been looking for ways to provide alternative options for such amid the lockdowns, in order to help keep younger audiences connected.

Last week, TikTok ran a virtual prom event, with a range of musical guests to help liven up the celebration.

It’s difficult to facilitate the same, or even a similar level of connection to actually being in attendance, but the communal benefit of these coordinated, real-time functions could, at the least, help to provide some level of normalcy in the current situation, and get younger people sharing their experiences.

For brands, that also means that those business’ which would normally see an uptick in activity around such events can also look to launch tie-ins with the virtual celebration. Maybe you could promote the function to keep your local audiences engaged, provide tips or products that can help them participate virtually, or simply look to share in the experience to enhance your connection with your customers.

There’s a range of tie-ins to consider – and again, while it won’t be the same, it’s good to see Facebook looking to provide some level of consideration for the impacts of losing such a major youth event.

Facebook’s #Graduation2020 event will be held on May 15th at 11AM PT/2PM ET, while from Monday, May 11th, Instagram will host daily programming which spotlights “iconic senior experiences” in the lead-up to the celebration. 

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