For many institutions, the answers vary. Some are doing a tremendous job at creating content while others are falling short. Lets face it: It’s complicated—and the landscape is constantly changing.
Your prospective students are at the forefront of this evolving media space. This blog post will highlight two institutions (one large and one small) that have successfully engaged their current students, moving them to provide original content.
This small liberal arts college has just under 2,000 full- and part-time students. However, in the small school space, CC is at the forefront where content creation is concerned. It’s taken all the necessary steps to motivate its current students and provide them a platform to tell stories about the college’s culture, history, and future. Connecticut College uses its Twitter account to solicit content from students on topics the college deems important to its online community. Additionally, students can submit content ideas on their own, and have these topics vetted by the social media strategist before being distributed to a wider audience via the campus’s main social channels.
The University of Michigan has the benefit of having more than 40,000 students. This institution has a dedicated destination for social media content that visitors can access from a direct link on its home page.
Students, faculty, alumni, fans, and the representatives of student organizations can quickly sign up to become writers on a variety of topics, including campus-wide events, research and program development, and school-related or organizational accomplishments and innovations. This effectively develops and organizes a system for activating content contributors from all walks of life and from every point in their educational careers, giving the school’s content hub an authentic perspective from the people who comprise the university’s culture.
Gathering content from your students is only one part of the process. Once your institution has quality content, you need to edit and revise it for discovery beyond campus walls. While one goal of content marketing may be to engage the student body, another will likely be to draw in prospective students and inspire them to become part of the institution’s future.
As prospective students begin to think about attending a college or university, they’re not always aware of what makes one institution different from the rest of the pack. They don’t know about the culture, the clubs, or the accelerated programs unless they dig deeper into the school’s website. Why not make that information readily available and more digestible through firsthand accounts from actual students and teachers? Why not bring in a graduate student crowd by showcasing thought leadership from professionals across various research fields?
If you want to be found in search by members of your audience, you must create content to answer their top questions. Prospective students will use long-tail keyword strings, such as “how much does it cost to attend law school,” and “best nursing schools in California.” If your college or university wants to be discovered, articles need to consciously consider SEO.
Connecticut College and The University of Michigan are examples of institutions that do a solid job encouraging their students to become brand ambassadors for their universities. They’ve led by example. For other organizations without access to a large base of student contributors that want to gain full control over the content creation process, working with freelance writers to report on and broadcast campus culture can be a cost-effective and efficient way to scale content strategy.