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How to use student stories to create great content

ElizabethRose -- Wed, 07/15/2015 - 10:43am

Last week, we worked with Marisa, the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration web ambassador extraordinaire, to put together a quick news piece about the AcceleRagin' program. However, we didn't focus on the program and the nitty gritty of its inner workings — instead, we wanted to know how students were taking advantage of it.

Marisa conferred with Zachary at the Opportunity Machine to pull together a list of five students who had established or were trying to establish businesses through AcceleRagin', as well as a little background on each student's work. We wanted this information to be easy to read through and to digest, so we put it in everyone's favorite form: a listicle (aka Buzzfeed style).

While I'll admit that listicles are not the best way for getting all of your news, they're a great way to catch the high points. In this case, we didn't need a long, drawn-out article because we didn't have to own all of the information — we were able to link to the businesses' individual websites. Their websites already have the specifics, and we also wanted to help send some traffic to their sites, as well. 

OK, and here's where I've buried the lede: The "Five student entrepreneurs you need to know" story got almost 1,300 views in a week. That's more than four times what a news story typically gets. And the Business site was the sole recipient of all of that traffic! We shared the story in the weekly @Louisiana e-newsletter (which goes to 18,000 subscribers) and on Facebook (where it had 15,800 impressions from the official University account).

All of this to say that there's a serious thirst for information about what students are doing here. We know that we're a world-class institution and our students are successful, but how often do we actually share those stories? Yes, your websites are places for announcements and curriculum information, but there's also a real opportunity to showcase your students. When you create content like this, your audience suddenly becomes much wider because it becomes a recruiting piece, as well as a promotional piece for donors, parents, and community leaders.

For our non-academic offices and centers, that doesn't mean you can't replicate this kind of content. A few weeks ago, we worked with Rec Sports to create a list of things to do at Bourgeois Hall during the summer. While the audience is narrower for that (limited to current students and employees), it still jumped to one of their top 15 most visited pages this month with 420 views. For theirs, all we did was provide each activity with a one- to two-sentence description and then linked to that section on their site. Because they were proactive and already had all of the information available, all they had to do was pull it all together in one place.

We are more than happy to work with you to create ideas for your sites. We're always looking for more ways to promote all of our units within the University, but that can't happen unless there's fresh content to use.

As always, get in touch with me if you're interested in anything I talked about here or anything else related to your site. Just email me at