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Corie MartinCorie Martin, Director Web Services & Digital Marketing at Western Kentucky University, is one of the 12 presenters of the 2019 Higher Ed Content Conference.

In this 4-question interview, Corie shares with us thoughts on content creation process and measurement, interesting higher ed content and a favorite tool.

1) What does your content creation process look like?

At WKU, our content strategy is collaborative, theme-based, and emotion-driven. It is guided by the prospective student recruitment cycle; by the first semester, first year student experience; and by our mission to remain a student-centered, applied research institution.

We start each academic year (August-July) by taking an actual calendar, which in our case is a shared Google calendar, and we assign a theme to each month that will then drive our content. Typically, the themes we choose are based on things that prospective families would want to know about our institution based on where those students might be in the recruitment cycle/funnel. For example, January had a theme of, “New Beginnings”, because it represents a new year, a new academic term, and many prospective students are making their college decisions during this time. We also consider the emotions that are tied to various stages of the college choice process such as excitement or anxiety, and we strive to produce content that either evokes or calms those emotions.

At the same time, we are also producing content that will assist our current students, particularly our first-year students who need more support and assistance. Understanding that involvement and engagement are keys to student retention, in February, our theme was “Broaden Your Horizons”, which highlighted ways to get involved and extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom. For a week we covered study abroad, for another week we covered internship opportunities, we also covered volunteerism activities. These content pieces also spoke to prospective students who are beginning to research and become excited about all the diverse opportunities that are available to them in college.

Our content strategy is collaborative because we utilize our entire campus community to help us find out what programs and students to feature. Representatives from each of our five academic colleges feed us content, as do a variety of student service offices.

We also use a team of volunteer social media squad students to produce this content. Our marketing team is fairly small for an institution our size, so we all jump in to help to create content pieces that are disseminated via newsletter, news blog, and social media.

We are also in the process of creating messaging and timing for various audiences on various platforms, all based on data. We use personas to keep us focused on the audience for whom we are producing content and we no longer just produce one piece of content for all audiences, as not all audiences are in the same place at the same time.

2) How is the performance of your content measured at your school?

Each month we refer back to the content we shared in the month prior. We look at the timing, messaging, platform, the content itself and we review analytics using Sprout Social, native social media insights tools and Google Analytics to determine what worked and what did not – from an engagement and conversion standpoint.

When reviewing content performance from Q4 of 2018, we discovered that some of our news pieces on Facebook were going out too early in the morning when our audience engagement and reach was historically low.

Because those posts were going out too early to reach our audiences, it actually drove our engagement rates down almost 8%. That might sound low, but every percentage point matters. Since the discovery, we have changed the timing of our content sharing on Facebook (and Twitter) and we have opted to not share certain things on Facebook at all. Our engagement is on the rise so far in Q1 of this year. We are slated to gain back the points we lost, and increase them if we stay on trend.

3) Share 3 pieces of higher ed content that made you envious or proud

I really enjoyed the holiday videos posted by the University of Virginia last year. Their President’s video featured students and many familiar faces from around their campus. The feel was fun and collegial. As the person who often coordinates videos like these, I know they are no small planning endeavor. Their video was impressive.

I love Instagram accounts that show beautiful campus imagery in a creative way. The University of Washington and University of Chicago are two of note. I also really love the subtle color flow of the University of Florida. They carry their colors with them through each photo and they have a really nice flow that appears intentional.
Our institutional color is red, which can be kind of harsh if over used. Orange can be the same way. They do a nice job and it ties their aesthetic together in a seamless way.

4) What’s your favorite new tool for your work with content?

One of the tools that our study abroad ambassadors use regularly for Instagram management is planoly. It is a really nice planning and calendaring tool for Instagram that they have had a lot of success allowing multiple students to use simultaneously to plan, post and analyze the success of their posts. It’s super cool and free!

A conference focusing on higher ed content?

The Higher Ed Content Conference is a must-attend event for higher ed content professionals and teams looking for new ideas and best practices.

Read below what a few of your higher ed colleagues who attended the past editions of the Higher Ed Content Conference say about the experience.

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