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May 18

Leveraging Students as Co-Creators for Your Social Media Content


We’re all still students of social media content creation, but some schools are bringing their A-game when generating content that speaks to Gen Z.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to engagement on social media platforms is staying up to speed with social media content creation.

It takes a lot of work, time, and resources to keep up with the kind of content creation necessary for a vibrant social media strategy. 

Yet another challenge is coming up with content ideas that resonate with younger generations. 

Sure, we know what our audience needs to know, but how can we contextualize our message for them?

Owen Knight, Director of Admission Engagement at Tulane University, shares how he and his team reach their target audience by leaning on their peers—current students within Tulane’s walls.

By building a team filled with bright, young interns who grasp the Gen Z social media landscape, Owen and his Admissions Office can create social media content that meets prospective students where they are.

Ideation: Coming Up with Creative Social Media Content

Pretty much all colleges and universities, from the smallest to the largest, have a social media presence. 

Unfortunately, some of them are just using it as a megaphone to repeat their PR releases.

Others are using it as a reminder for transactional data. 

But Tulane is doing some really creative things in creating social media content, and it all started with leveraging their student interns.

I started with the admissions office when I was a sophomore at Tulane back in 2012, and that was the first time we were hiring social media interns. 

It started with helping [create] the class of 2017 Facebook page and the creation of our Instagram account. Watching this transition of [our social media platforms] from being a place where we just shared pretty pictures of oak trees on campus to this really powerful medium that reaches potentially millions of students has been really, really fun.

Tapping into the Culture of Generation Z

Too many times, the social media manager has to wear other hats, and this means that they don’t have the focus, or the time, to be able to really learn about the platforms they are using.

As enrollment marketers, we should really be students of the social media platforms and be a student of what’s trending for social media content right now. 

@tulaneu @Glass Half Full NOLA co-founder @FRANZISKA ♻️ ♬ original sound – Tulane University

At Tulane, they are leveraging their social media interns to tap into the culture of young prospects on social media.

I do wear a lot of hats. So I really am appreciative of my team here in the admissions office, as well as our student workers! 

I’ve got a couple of undergrads that work the desk for us here in the office that are really kind of my conduits into Gen Z and their sense of humor and what’s really kind of up and coming. 

As much as I enjoy spending time on the platform, I can’t be on TikTok all the time. So it is really nice having a couple of “spies” in there for me, kind of sending me sounds and trends that are going on.

It’s been a really fun time having this exercise with my students of finding funny ways to relate whatever is trending to Tulane, to New Orleans, or to college in general. 

I think we are fortunate in that we don’t have to keep the content 100% [related] to Tulane. 

A lot of what we do has been trying to be more in the corner of access and accessibility and trying to reach as many students as possible regardless of if they’re applying to Tulane or not. [We’re] just providing general college advice. 

This kind of indirect messaging is exactly what you want to do for your content marketing strategy. 

I like to call it “edutainment.” Edutainment is when you create content that is informing your audience, but in a very interesting, entertaining way.

Curating Social Media Content

@tulaneu Preparing for finals can be overwhelming. Take a breather and enjoy some @TUSTEP Tulane ♬ Be the Sunshine – Gilly_Shine

One of the more practical questions that I had for Owen was how they are leveraging student workers to curate their social media content and analyzing content trends. 

His response I’m sure will encourage you if you’ve been struggling to keep up with all the work of curating and creating social media content.

I have some incredible student workers that work under me here. Honestly, I don’t even view it that they’re “working” under me. 

Like you said, I can’t be scrolling TikTok at all hours of the night. But our student workers are incredible! 

We have about 20 of them that work in our office. They answer the phones at the desk, [respond to] general emails, and help greet our visitors when they come to campus. 

We’re constantly picking their brains in terms of our marketing emails. We’re talking to them about surveys that are going out, swag items we can mail to students, and that kind of naturally flowed into social media trends [and even our] messaging.

I trust our students a lot. They are kind of my inside look into the Gen Z way of thinking.

I love how Tulane University is leveraging the fact that they are surrounded by a large group who represent and understand the culture, desires, and fears of their target audience.

While they benefit from having people in the office to help out with all of the work, they also get the huge benefit of being able to consult with their own in-house focus group each time they need to brainstorm a new campaign or fix a problem in their messaging. 

This is a strategy I recommend for any enrollment marketer who’s looking to amp up their social media marketing game.

Save yourself time and effort while getting great insider advice by leveraging students as co-creators for your social media strategy. 

Discover more when you listen to the podcast!

Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.

Listen to our interview with Owen Knight to get even more insights into:

  • How Tulane approaches the shifting social media landscape (4:50)
  • Finding the balance between informing and entertaining (10:00)
  • Organic conversations with students about content and trends (18:18)

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Featured image via tulane.edu

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