Head of the Class: How 3 Colleges Create Great Content

Colleges are hiring chief marketing officers in an effort to strengthen the schools’ brands in the midst of a weak economy, discouraging job placement numbers, and mounting student loan debt.

The CMOs at colleges and universities “manage schools’ identities and messaging, a role covering everything from admissions brochures and Twitter feeds to brand management,” according to recent a feature on the trend in The Wall Street Journal.Here are a few schools that have not only produced content, but have excelled at doing so.

Syracuse University

Syracuse University’s content and social media strategy is student driven. On its website, there is a section called “Living SU: A social media community about student and campus life” that showcases content on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube, and WordPress.

On WordPress, there are posts from students about making the most of winter break and how to reduce stress before finals time.  Instagram features photos of balloons in the school’s colors and students wearing athletic gear, while the Flickr is composed of photos from on-campus student events. The Pinterest account contains 11 boards and 164 pins on topics like “Move-it Monday,” “Wear-it Wednesday,” and “Tune-in Tuesday.”

Letting the students demonstrate their experiences with the school through online content is a creative marketing approach. Prospective students can hear the voices of those currently enrolled, and current students can see what their fellow classmates are talking about.

Harvard University

Ranked by social media consulting company Sociagility as the number one social media-savvy university, Harvard is no stranger to producing great content.

Along with prominent featuring of the social media channels on its homepage, Harvard maintains an impressive number of YouTube channels and has garnered over 62,000 subscribers and 12 million hits on its main one.

There are subsections devoted to the campus and community, national and world affairs, arts and culture, and science. Some of the other channels include Harvard Business School (18,658 subscribers), Harvard Law School (8,341 subscribers), and Center for Public Leadership (8,328 subscribers).

Like Syracuse, Harvard students post new blogs every few days about life on campus. The university doesn’t have to do much in terms of marketing. After all, it was the focus of movies like “Legally Blond” and “The Social Network,” among dozens of others. But this school chooses to go above and beyond, frequently generating solid content either through video or text form.

University of California, Berkeley

Listed on the the same social media-savvy study as Harvard, UC Berkeley’s content strategy zones in on audio. The college created Berkeley on iTunes, which gives users access to hundreds of audio files. Berkeley makes it easy to listen to courses, hear what happened at events, and tune into the arts, education, science, technology, and political programs on campus. Webcasts from courses in every semester are also posted and can be listened to on iTunes or watched on YouTube.

Like Harvard, Berkeley was an early adopter of YouTube back in 2006 and has a thriving page; It boasts a total of 5,082 uploaded videos, and more than 97,000 subscribers and 19 million views. Considering that video is exploding online, Berkeley’s marketing team is smart to emphasis its YouTube and webcasts.


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