Content projects in higher education come in many shapes and sizes. What worked well at another institution could also work pretty well at yours.
No guarantee, but it never hurts to keep up with what’s done at other schools.
That’s why I asked the 12 higher ed professionals of the 2017 Higher Ed Content Conference to tell us about the most exciting projects they’ve worked on over the past 12 months.
Thanksgiving Stop-Motion Video – Liz Miller, College Senior – St. Lawrence University
The most exciting content project I’ve worked on this past year would probably be a stop motion video I created with another student for Thanksgiving. Our advisor Meg Keniston often asks the Student Social Media Team to think about fun ways St. Lawrence can celebrate holidays, and when Thanksgiving this past year came around, we wanted to do something St. Lawrence had never tried on social; a stop-motion video. Another team member and I had a pretty elaborate plan involving an entirely real Thanksgiving table spread, including a turkey. We weren’t sure how much we could actually accomplish, or if it would end up even being usable, but it paid off and was one of my favorite pieces of content. I think this was my favorite project because of how creatively we thought and that we were actually able to execute it. There are many times when our team comes up with amazing ideas, but they’re just not achievable within our time constraints or budgets, and it was really satisfying to pull one of them off and watch our community enjoy this video.
April Fools Day Homepage – Sofia Tokar, Web Writer – University of Rochester
Each year we try to have fun with our web content for April Fools Day, but in a way that manages to convey something real about the University of Rochester. Inspired by Harry Potter, Rochester transfigured into Rochwarts for the day to showcase its magical history and qualities. This project was very much a group effort, but yours truly got to write the UR Sorting Hat Song, most of the questions for the “What House Do You Belong In?” quiz, and the blurb about the Rochwarts curriculum—all of which were peppered with references and in-jokes for the UR community. Mischief was most certainly managed that day on the web and social media!
Mascot Hall of Fame Campaign – Bill Zimmerman, Social Media Manager – Penn State University
I got the ball rolling on getting our mascot, The Nittany Lion, nominated for a spot in the Mascot Hall of Fame, which is set to open in 2018. At the close of the online fan vote, our Lion earned the most votes (35%!), besting the five other collegiate and pro candidates. This has produced a bounty of web and social content as we celebrated the nomination and mobilized our fans to vote. We’re still waiting to find out if the Lion will advance through the other rounds of voting to gain induction, but I feel good about our chances and that there’s more fun content opportunities to come.
Video Hybrid Story – Lydia Anthony, Web Content Manager – Converse College
We tried a new spin on an annual faculty profile story this year and created a video hybrid story that integrates short Facebook videos with text. One of the things we love most about this story is that it was about 90% created by our student intern, Emily. It was really validating to use my storytelling know-how to empower a talented young person, and then see her really run with it and take it to a whole new dimension I’d never even been to before. It’s definitely the most innovative video project we’ve done but honestly as a small college with a small communications team, I don’t think we would have had the time and energy for it if it weren’t for Emily. Find capable people, aim them in the right direction and then allow them to blow your mind (while saving you many hours of labor). It’s a beautiful thing…
Snapchat Spectacles Campus Tour – Tony Dobies, Director of Social Media – West Virginia University
We were recently one of the first universities in the country to create content using Snapchat Spectacles, and it was one of our most successful campaigns of the last few months. We developed a campaign called the “WVU Campus Tour Extended Cut!” in which we showed off campus through Spectacles in a fun, personality-filled Story over a three-day period. Instead of showing all the normal spots, we took people to parts of campus they might not get to see on a normal tour. While using Spectacles to execute it, I actually think it was the tone that we used which made this project so exciting. We had great feedback from current and prospective students and have plans to continue to use Spectacles for more hands-on content.
Snapchat Contest – Jason Boucher, Social Media Manager – University of New Hampshire
The most exciting content project I have worked on over the last year is probably the #UNH150 ‘Hear Us Roar’ Snapchat contest.
Many students participated and helped drive attendance to the official UNH campaign launch party that took place on campus. There was a lot of creativity, engagement, and fun during the competition and students were engaged and happy!
SEO-Driven Content – Joshua Dodson, Director of Digital Marketing – Bentley University
When I was still at SNHU I worked on a substantial SEO-driven content initiative.
This included long and short-form articles published daily. Now that I am at Bentley University, I have been working with the team to create additional articles for SEO purposes.
Student-Led Web Redesign – Conny Liegl, Senior Designer – California Polytechnic State University
Launching the student-led redesign of the Kennedy Library website. The goal of the project was to create a consistent and engaging user experience that would provide easy user access to information and resources students need to accomplish their work. Clear calls to action should support user engagement with library programs, services, events, and opportunities for collaboration and giving. Working with a UI/UX student assistant and a web development student assistant, we carried out interviews, user studies and observations that informed the design and implementation of all changes. The improved design was launched January 6, 2017.
Admissions Web Overhaul – Art Hill, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing – Ball State University
We finished a major overhaul of our admissions content in 2016. This was a big leap forward for us, as it is the first entirely mobile responsive section of our marketing website.
The project involved all admissions areas, including undergraduate, graduate, international, and online. Results so far have been very encouraging, and it has helped strengthen relationships with key influencers.
Social Media Ad Campaign – Kelsey Seymour, Digital Marketing Manager – University of New Brunswick
We tried new social tactics like Facebook Canvas and Twitter Conversational Ads as part of our #OnlyHere recruitment marketing campaign. I was skeptical that the Twitter Conversational Ads would work – first, because our target 15-17 yr. old audience is leaving Twitter in favour of platforms like Instagram and Snapchat – and second, because they seemed to be designed more for business than higher ed.
Here are examples of our ads:
- Win versus pay tuition
- Campus life versus career goals when choosing a university
- Music versus pure silence when studying
It was really exciting to see the tactic work – and it’s kind of a triple-threat, helping our awareness, engagement and lead generation goals. When students engage with the ad, they are not only being exposed to messaging about UNB and encouraged to participate in our contest, they end up becoming brand ambassadors for UNB by sharing the messaging with their network.
We are ultimately measuring the success of the tactic by the number of contest entries and cost per action, and so far it hasn’t been as effective as Facebook or Instagram in generating leads. But it was exciting to see prospective students engaging with the content and sharing it with their online networks.
Campus News Platform – Amy Grace Wells, Content Strategist/UX Researcher – Graceful Content
Before I left University of South Carolina, we launched a new platform for our campus news. It was a great collaborative project! I had the opportunity to work with the development and design team and the writing team to help develop better ways to showcase our great stories. We even reintroduced long-form stories, which performed better than nearly all other content.
Basketball TV Ad – Lindsay Nyquist, Director of Digital Communication – Fort Lewis College
Probably one of the most fun was creating a basketball commercial for our men’s and women’s teams. We had a televised game coming up (rare for a DII school) and needed a commercial to air during it. We wanted to use a high-end montage-type piece we had made two years ago, and just refresh it with some new basketball footage – and then decided to go ahead and make a specific basketball commercial since we’d have it anyways. We worked with James Drake Films out of Denver, who is always so creative and professional. To make the scene look appropriately dramatic, we blacked out the gym, filled it with fog, and used spotlights and drones to finish it out. As a final touch, James requested commentary pulled from a real game to flesh out the audio. Here’s the final piece .
What’s the most exciting content project YOU’ve worked on?
Tell us by posting a comment below!
And, if you want to learn more from these higher ed content professionals, register your team for the 2017 Higher Ed Content Conference (April 26, 2017).