Authenticity: using student-generated content to conquer the white whale of HESM

Authenticity is the higher education communicator’s white whale. We chase it over oceans of data and posts and sentiment – but the truth is, the most authentic content a university can produce comes from the folks on the ground—the students. Good or bad, positive or negative, our students lead perception about our institutions in ways communicators can only dream of. So why not harness their power, and use the content they’re already generating to build trust, grow your following, energize your social media strategy, revitalize your web content and engage your audiences across platforms?

Rachel Putman will lead you through the process of curating student-generated content through engaging student creators as members of your team, curating content from students you meet at events, and even courting the opinions of the infamous parody account. Rachel will be accompanied by a student content creator from UAFS who will share insight into working alongside professional marketers, sharing student stories, keeping things fun and vetoing their bosses bad ideas.

You’ll leave with an understanding of:

  • How a regional public institution can maximize budgets by curating student-generated content.
  • Best practices for sourcing and sharing student-generated content on Facebook feeds, in Instagram stories and on TikTok.
  • How to engage students as members of your team to create meaningful and authentic content.
  • How to integrate student perspectives and content into your overall communications and marketing plans.
  • And what traditional college students want to hear from their university (and what they don’t).


Rachel Putman — University of Arkansas – Fort Smith

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