How Ottawa University Manages Student-Generated Content

Guest blogger Annie Noll, social media specialist for Ottawa University, discusses the evolution of Braves TV, an initiative to generate student-developed videos. Annie maintains a social media blog for the university.

The idea for Braves TV came to me one night while watching MTV. Since graduating college, I don’t watch MTV as often as I used to, but luckily, this night I was watching because it sparked the idea that would become one of my biggest social media concepts to date as the social media specialist for Ottawa University. I had just launched the official Ottawa University Facebook page and needed creative content for it, video content specifically. A preview came on for “The Buried Life,” a show about a group of young men who complete outrageous tasks that they want to check off their bucket list. The light bulb went on.

While Braves TV has morphed into something very different than “The Buried Life,” the original plan was for students on my team to create a bucket list of items specific to the university and our cameras would document each one as it was done. For example, an item might be to do a lip dub in the cafeteria. Throughout the process of implementing this concept, I have learned a lot about student-generated content. The great thing about working in the social media space, it seems, is the more raw the video, the more you fit in.

What We’re Trying to Accomplish with Braves TV

Braves TV’s tag line is “Watch the audacious, totally brave, out-of-the-box attempts of nine students whose mission is to create awesome videos that involve the entire student body.” Our reason for developing Braves TV is twofold.

  1. Our mission is to showcase student life, academics and sports in creative ways through the unfiltered (but not un-managed) eyes of the students. Obviously singing in the cafeteria isn’t a daily occurrence, but students laughing and having fun happens all the time.
  2. Our social media was in need of creative and engaging content. Members of Braves TV are able to relate to potential students in ways no one else can.

Braves TV videos are filmed by the students, star the students and usually involve planning an event. For example, this semester one of our videos is called “Facebook in Real Life.” We printed 100 Facebook “Like” buttons, created six foot-long status update signs and made signs with typical Facebook lingo. Our students held up the signs and “acted out” Facebook at one of the football games. This video is currently in the editing process.

Braves TV is the epitome of student-generated content. Many times they film on their own, with my guidance, using one of our three Flip Cams.

How We Manage Braves TV

Next semester, the group will be a part of the university’s video production class for which I will serve as an advisor. They will work for a grade and will receive one credit. Before Braves TV was part of this class, it was a student organization that was created in the spring of 2010 and was run by me. Both semesters have been an experiment in discovering the most efficient way to run a student group with this kind of focus.

So at the beginning of the current semester, I hosted a brainstorming session to come up with video ideas for the semester. Ideas were in the realm of academics, student life or student activities. Our goal was to get the four videos filmed by the end of the semester along with a shorter promo video for each.

I made the final decision on the videos. My goal was to pick ideas that were large in scale but that were realistic for pulling off. After group and video assignments were made, each group was in charge of its video and had to use the other members for help. I met with each group about once a week to guide them and help them stay on track. I also helped them work through issues. For example, one of the videos this semester was a tour de Ottawa in which BTV members danced with different academics, sports or organizations on campus. It is a take-off of the hit YouTube video “Where the Hell is Matt?” My team was having trouble getting people to dance and the end of the semester was looming, so we adjusted the plan to get the video done.

All videos are edited by me with the help of a BTV work study student in our office. This allows me to make sure the end product is something we can be comfortable with as a representation of Ottawa University.

The Good and Bad of Student-generated Content

Good: The resulting videos are always good. The team has filmed 13 videos to date, three of which are being edited right now.

Bad: Working with student schedules can be challenging, plus keeping students accountable is difficult if they have no academic incentive for completing projects.

How We’re Measuring Success

Braves TV is less than a year old, and it has been our most popular content. Their videos have been seen a total of 4,589 times to date on YouTube. They have generated lots of interaction on our Facebook page, which in turn has allowed the page to grow very quickly. But, BTV is still in a growing phase. The videos are uploaded to YouTube, linked to on our Facebook page, on our website, and our enrollment advisors use them for their own personal Facebook pages. Right now we are measuring our success through YouTube insights, word of mouth, surveys when possible, website analytics, and Facebook fan interaction. We have discovered that alumni really love the videos, as well.

Future of Braves TV

Braves TV has a bright future at Ottawa University. Plans for Braves TV include creating a special place for BTV videos on the social media mash-up site that I am developing; strategically integrating the videos with other marketing efforts, using the videos as part of an email campaign, and having BTV focus more on being an online video series where potential students/the audience follow their story as they attempt the videos.

If you’d like to see all of the videos Ottawa University’s Braves TV team has created, visit its playlist on our YouTube channel.

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