How Universities and Brands Did Valentine’s Day On Social Media

Ah Valentine’s Day, that magical time of year between Christmas and Easter that manages to keep card shops and chocolate makers in business. Love is in the air and couples around the world celebrate their relationships to avoid having to do it the other 364 days of the year.

As the dust settles on the deflated heart shaped balloons and discarded oversized teddy bears, I thought it would be worth looking at how universities and brands celebrated this wonderful holiday on social media. So here are the good, the bad and the ugly from Valentine’s Day around the world of hashtag engagement.


Newcastle University

Top of the list because it’s my team. This was the first year we decided to put some time and effort in to Valentine’s Day and it involved two things – tiny little hearts and a 6ft lion mascot.

Free Hugs On Campus For Valentine's Day

Did you see Percy out on campus this morning sharing the love with some free hugs for Valentine's Day? Happy Valentine's Day

Opslået af Newcastle University på 14. februar 2018

Our centre piece was a video shot in the morning then edited and published by lunch. We weren’t sure how it was going to go, taking our lion mascot out with a “Free Hugs” sign, but from the video it look like it went all right.

Truth is, it was an hour walking around campus having our student population try their best to avoid us or just take photos from afar. But it got that all important comment engagement on Facebook with zero spend so winner right?

We also ran a heart hunt around campus to help get students involved on Snapchat:

The concept was simple. 20 hearts were hidden around campus for students to find. On the hearts was our Snapcode and a call to action to scan the code to find out how to win. Within minutes we started getting entries, which could then share to our story:

Student selfies holding the newcastle university snapchat heart hunt cards

Simple but effective #engagement and because it had people sending us messages on Snapchat it should help give us a little boost in Snapchat’s new algorithm tuned friend feed.

Loughborough University

The team at Loughborough did something awesome this Valentine’s Day. Rather than get all loved up they did some seriously good work for their local community with their #heart2heart campaign.

Yup, that’s right. They used Valentine’s Day to train people to be actual real life lifesavers with the skill of CPR

University of Glasgow

Like Newcastle Uni, the UoG team are fans of the quick video turn around game, they’re also well know for their epic social led campaigns (check out their great way of doing student profiles with UoG Future World Changers).

On Valentine’s Day the two combined for their tongue in cheek “world record attempt of the largest group hug in Scottish ancient university history”

UofG Big Hug.

UofG Big Hug! Unofficial world record attempt for the largest group hug in Scottish ancient university history. #UofGLove ❤️❤️

Opslået af University of Glasgow på 14. februar 2018

Loads of comments and plenty of views, so another winner for the Facebook algorithm (although it would appear the team are less than happy with Facebook at the moment).

University of Sunderland

The team at Sunderland had been planning this video for a few months (full disclosure, I’m an alumnus so got the request to submit stories near the start of the year) and the planning paid off.

The asked for stories from current and past students that had met their partner on campus. Simple premise that produced a #engaging video for everyone with even a heart of stone to enjoy.

Sunderland Stories. Ep 4: Ti Amo

Introducing the Valentine's edition of our Sunderland Stories series.We were overwhelmed by the response of those who met at our University and appreciate everyone who responded to the original post and of course to those who took part.Happy Valentine's Day to you all ❤️

Opslået af University of Sunderland på 14. februar 2018

Obviously it would have been a better video if I was in it, but then I didn’t meet my wife in Sunderland so would have been a stretch.

Cardiff University

Cardiff’s Valentine’s celebration showed you don’t need to do a lot to get that #engagement. You just need some pretty pictures and a reason to get people commenting.

Roses are red 🌷Violets are blue 💙What does Cardiff Universitymean to you? Happy #ValentinesDay 😍

Opslået af Cardiff University på 14. februar 2018

Plenty of long form comments on that post, which Facebook now loves, so that’ll help them out in the algorithm game.


Innocent Drinks

These guys are one of the market leaders when it comes to Brandter. And luckily, they’re pretty good at it. So it’s no surprise they managed to keep things simple but #engaging on Twitter for a Valentine’s Day that was right after Pancake Day.

The ultimate content recycle.


You’d have thought one of the driving forces behind Valentine’s Day would know how to celebrate it well on social. Let’s take a look

Ugh, dripping in schmaltz and using a call to action that isn’t relevant to the social channel. Considering they have nearly 63,000 followers those #engagements are pretty poor.


Now they’re not allowed to run “tag a mate” posts, how would Unilad get that #engagement on social for Valentine’s Day?

True 😂 (@nochill)

A post shared by UNILAD (@unilad) on

Ah right, taking a tired meme that was posted by another account. Classic Unilad.


I’ve been out of the dating game for a very long time. But I understand all the cool kids that want to find love go swipping on Tinder. So how do they celebrate the festival of love?

As the kids say, YASSSS. If you look at their timeline it’s full of people tweeting about the cool stuff they got as part of the competition. #engagement levels through the roof and on brand. Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner (granted they have a huge budget and a sponsor that helped but still, nice idea).

And there you have it, that’s how universities and brands did Valentine’s Day in 2018 – maybe it’s some inspiration for next year, or maybe you just need to go lie down in a room void of sickly love stuff for a week. It’s your choice. But if you’ve seen any other interesting Valentine’s Day celebrations on social media share them in the comments below.

About Matt Horne

I'm a broadcaster and social media guy who makes digital content and spends too much time on the internet so you don't have to.

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