Establishing a Content Culture at Your College or University
Date posted: April 8, 2013
It’s clear that meaningful and relevant content is integral to enhancing web presence and overall user experience.
Part of any content strategy will necessarily involve developing processes of creating new content, as well as editorial calendars that will help streamline the publication of this new content. We’ve spoken about content generation and content calendars before, but in order for these two practices to evolve naturally and at a desired pace, there needs to be a content culture instilled within your college or university.
What is Content Culture?
The content culture is the overall position people at your college hold regarding the content that is being produced for and published on the college website. Establishing a strong content culture will be the gateway to ensuring a constant flow of significant and effective content.
Why do we need a Content Culture?
The driving force behind any initiative is collaboration. The Marketing or Communications departments will likely spearhead a lot of the web content projects, but it would be inefficient to have such a small representation of your college write all of the content on behalf of the entire school. You want to establish a content culture because it will encourage all the different communities within your school to work towards the same goal, even if by doing it separately.
Ultimately, content should be synonymous with substance, and you want to promote a content culture because it runs parallel with the overall philosophy of providing an enriching learning environment. The aim is to establish a culture that not only promotes content creation, but one that fuels college-wide collaboration.
From a higher ed marketing perspective, establishing a content culture will contribute greatly to the overall digital marketing strategy that a college or university has. Having a constant flow of engaging and diverse content will enhance search engine optimization efforts and overall online visibility, which in turn, propels student recruitment.
How do we create a Content Culture?
Like any plan of action, the most difficult part of the process is the execution. Below we have listed strategies you can implement in order to jumpstart the development of your college’s content culture.
1. Encourage everyone to participate: A lot of people within your college’s community (students, staff, faculty, administration, partners, etc.) don’t even know that they are able to submit content, or even pitch ideas to whoever oversees web content. The only way to ensure that the content is a true representation of your college as a whole is to showcase the voices of everyone who is in involved in the day-to-day.
Example: Thompson Rivers University’s TRU Blogroll welcomes students, faculty, staff, alumni and anyone else in their community to contribute to an existing TRU blog or create one of their own. What’s so great about the page is that Thompson University has established an equalized place where students and faculty ventures hold the same weight, and are considered valuable additions to the overall collection of ongoing blogs.
2. Promote various types of content submissions: Remind everyone that content exists beyond text formats. Many people will shy away from contributing content because they shy away from writing, or feel like writing will be too much of a time commitment. Encourage contributors to submit photos, videos, illustrations etc. For example:
- Images: Science professors can host a photo scroll on images of students in the lab
- Video: Business professors can begin a video series of practicing business skills in the real world, like putting students through mock job interviews.
- Text: Recruit a student to be the official Events blogger, and have this student write up a review of any event (on-campus conferences, talks, open houses, etc.) for the school blog.
Example: The Kenyon College News Room includes content from their various demographics and contains text, audio, video and visual content.
3. Define a process: Admittedly, having everyone on board is theoretically ideal for content generation, but it can definitely disrupt the publication flow. Full participation will necessarily require a streamlined process where content contributors submit to a designated person or team (Communications or Marketing) who will subsequently edit, polish, and publish the content.
The key is to make it easy and clear for everyone to participate while also adhering to established style guides or preferences. You can offer access to a “Content Submission Form”
Example: Looking at Kenyon College again, their Public Affairs team gives clear guidelines to how people can submit anything, from an event posting, to videos and web content.
Establishing a concrete content culture will take time, so it is important that you set reasonable expectations for your team and all prospective content creators. Keep the momentum going through campaigns, email blasts, and even seasonal incentives (theatre tickets, giveaways, etc.)
Over time, you will see participation levels increase, and have an entire college worth of people playing a part in solidifying your college’s overall brand and web presence.
How does your college or university encourage campus-wide participation in web content generation?