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ConfabEDU: Empowering Students to Tell Stories


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As content strategists, we are constantly seeking creative ways to tell our institution’s story in print publications, on the web, and across social media. Our audiences don’t want to (and won’t) read marketing jargon and mission statements because they crave authentic, transparent, and honest content they can trust, relate to, and believe in. The beautiful thing about higher education is we have thousands of people on our campuses who are not just living our institution’s story—they are the story. Why not harness the power within that?

When you encourage students to share their stories in their own voice and own way, they feel valued and—more importantly—know their experiences matter. This session showcases the benefits of heavy student involvement in the work we do and why it’s important to start building this relationship now.

Published in: Education, Marketing
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ConfabEDU: Empowering Students to Tell Stories

  1. STORIES EMPOWERING STUDENTSTOTELL Meg Bernier – St. Lawrence University – #ConfabEDU
  2. Meet Quevaughn.
  3. People consuming your content don't want to feel like there is a PR professional between them and the story.
  4. Engage & Empower
  5. Engage: Occupy, attract, or involve (someone's interest or attention); participate or become involved in.
  6. Empower: Give (someone) the authority or power to do something.
  7. When it comes to your digital communities, you need participants; But then you need those people to want to help you tell your story.
  9. We needed to engage our audiences in meaningful ways.
  10. Engagement Needed to Start With Students • Their stories resonate with all of our audiences • They see us focus on admissions and alumni – how could we make them feel important? • If we celebrate their experiences, the more likely they would be to share them • Engaging students now leads to more engaged alumni later
  11. Meet Kelly.
  12. I needed ( a lot) of help.
  13. Introducing the Student Social MediaTeam
  14. How does the team work? • 8 unpaid, completely volunteer student members • Applications open once a year • 15 applications in early 2014, 20+ now • Meet once a week, but constantly in touch • Brainstorm, offer constructive feedback • Not looking for “yes” people • Event coverage – what they are already going to • Keep @StLawrenceU authentic
  15. If they are unpaid and not earning course credit, what keeps them motivated to stay involved?
  16. Mostly food…
  17. …but also opportunities...
  18. …and confidence & trust. • Talk with them like colleagues – because they are – “We’re in this to learn together” • Publicly give them credit for their work – Students, faculty, staff, administrators, etc. • Educate them on best practices, tips & tricks • Develop their digital identities • Empower them to take the lead on projects
  19. The Engagement Magic Started on Instagram
  20. A Big Benefit of Student Involvement: The BEST Ideas
  21. Engage & Empower
  22. They were engaged: Sharing photos, stories, asking questions, commenting, retweeting, liking, favoriting.
  23. But how do you empowerstudents?
  24. Students?Taking Over? Scary.
  25. @herewegosaints Our student-run Instagram account
  27. @herewegosaints St. Lawrence’s student-run Instagram account • Run by a different student each week • Students have direct access to the account – Yes, that means the password! • Interested students express interest to me or a team member, brief Instagram audit, then meet with myself & a student team member
  28. @herewegosaints What do we discuss when we meet? • Guidelines • Planning ahead for the week (content strategy) – What is YOUR story? Not a reporter covering events – What do people love on Instagram? What don’t they like? – Get them thinking about platform & content – How will you capture your life? • How to engage with followers – Hashtags to follow and use
  29. @herewegosaints Successes 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 StLawrenceU herewegosaints
  30. @herewegosaints Content Highlights
  31. @herewegosaints Content Highlights
  32. Through @herewegosaints, we are letting our students be the heroes in their own stories.
  33. How has it benefitted St. Lawrence and our audiences? • Authentic, engaging, real-time content • Our ethos, personality shines through • Provides an inside look into life at SLU • “More than pretty pictures” • Event coverage • Encouraged more students to share content • Learned what matters to various audiences
  34. But what do the studentsrunning it get out of it?
  35. #SLUfamous …but is that real value?
  36. Meet John.
  37. @herewegosaints on Storify
  38. “How can running the account help you?” • Share with family, friends • Add Storify link to LinkedIn • Explain how they can/should talk about this experience during interviews • Trust, planning content (strategy) • How to include it on their resume • Some data (average likes per post) • Improve/Add to their digital identity • Fun facts to add context for employers
  39. Five minutes a week… • Provides value to our students • Provides value to my institution • We can now share individual weeks! • Admissions, Alumni/Development
  40. If you’re looking for authentic content to share, you need to invest in providing value to those supplying it to you.
  41. Questions? (And thank you!) Meg Bernier - @msteverb St. Lawrence University