Students as content creators: digital gurus case study

Author: Dave Musson

In the last of our special blog posts about our brand new whitepaper on how universities are working with student content creators, we've got another great case study for you - this time featuring one of our own!

(Psst, don't forget to download our white paper if you haven't  done so already. It's 28 pages of awesomeness and, even better, is totally free!)

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Aside from generating amazing content, one of the most rewarding aspects of running a digital ambassador scheme is giving your students real work experience, genuine experience for their CV and tangible career benefits to take with them post-graduation. We know this, because we’ve seen it for ourselves.

Our marketing and content manager, Rebecca Longhurst, started work with us right after graduating from the University of Sussex, where she was a ‘Digital Media Guru’ and where she learned a bunch of the skills that make her so good at her job now.

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Here are some of Rebecca’s reflections on the value of being a student ambassador.

Why did you apply to be a Digital Media Guru?

I’ve always been very career driven so was always on the lookout for opportunities to gain experience and improve my CV. Although I had some experience managing multiple social media channels, I didn’t have any experience creating content for an institution, and following a brief, so when I saw the social campaign calling for digital ambassadors, I had to apply. I also wanted to ‘give back’ to a university I loved, and my way of doing that was showcasing how great Sussex was on social media.

What did you enjoy most about the role?

My favourite part of the role was reflecting on my experience at Sussex and sharing what I’d learned at university during my degree. I was in my final year when I was a Digital Guru so it was a really nostalgic role to have as I approached graduation. During my time as a Guru, I was also introduced to the sector as a whole, and how running social media and marketing for a university is like, a *THING*. It was only when I attended CASE Social Media and Community Conference in March 2018 that I realised there was an entire world of jobs I had no idea existed before.

What challenges did you face as a digital ambassador?

The core challenge was probably finding creative ways to showcase a wide variety of topics. Possibly the most challenging brief we were given was to do an Instagram story about a new piece of research that had been conducted at Sussex. My fellow Guru, Ed, and I locked ourselves in a seminar room for 2 hours and created a story about this research, and it went down really well! It proved that making engaging content about somewhat confusing topics makes them far more accessible, and introduces it to an audience who may not have interacted with that content, had it been created by a scientist, or shared as a press release on Facebook. The moment you hand over something to your students, they’ll add their own spin (and GIFs) to it, and more often than not, it will go down incredibly well.

What was your proudest moment as a Digital Media Guru?

I was helping out at the Freshers’ Fair towards the end of my time working as a ‘Digital Media Guru’ and a fresher came up to me and said ‘I’ve loved watching your content over the last year when I was looking at Sussex. I really want to apply to be a Guru too’. So I explained the process and gave her some advice for her application. Then a few weeks later I was scrolling on Twitter and saw she got the job. I’ve followed her content ever since and she’s incredible, so the fact that my work for Sussex may have had the tiny impact of showing her what Sussex was all about, is definitely my proudest moment.

Which skills have you found most valuable after you graduated?

Learning about marketing campaigns and how they come together to promote a university was so insightful because I had zero knowledge of it before. Content creation and social scheduling was also incredibly valuable - pretty sure I’ve nailed finding the perfect GIF for every situation now. A skill I didn’t expect to improve when I started as a Guru was public speaking. I got the opportunity to speak at a Higher Education social media conference and it was really helpful to practise speaking about something other than a topic I’d researched for my English degree.

What would be your top tip for any University wanting to run a successful digital ambassador scheme?

Give your ambassadors creative freedom and trust them to do a great job. They know what students want to see, so if you give them the tools and freedom to explore, you’ll see some incredible content in return. Another major factor in accepting the role as a Digital Guru for me, was the flexibility in the working arrangement. With studying, society and sports, and a social life, it’s *super* important universities offer roles that are flexible, and the teams coordinating the students are understanding if content doesn’t get produced when students are busy.

Learn more about how universities are working with student content creators and find a load of amazing tips to help you do the same and really supercharge your peer recruitment efforts; download our new white paper now!

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