How to create a Student Generated Content strategy with suggestions

Over the past few years it has become increasingly clear that people want to hear from and follow people, rather than brands. Peer-to-peer marketing is on the rise and the benefits of Student Generated Content (SGC) are now well defined.

But how can you leverage the power of your student and university ambassadors to showcase the best possible student experience at your institution?

In this article we’re going to give a complete rundown of how to create, implement and maintain a sustainable student generated content pipeline. Firstly, you’re going to need some student contributors.

Build a pool of contributors

Formulate a street team of motivated student ambassadors or student volunteers. There are a number of ways you can generate interest in your SGC initiative:

Put the word out on social:

Recruit at key moments:

  • Welcome week. Get yourselves in front of the crowd as soon as possible.
  • Make sure students know where the marketing office is.
  • Tap into university news or other media outlets.

Be visible and approachable:

  • Make sure students know where your office is. Make the benefits of joining this street team clear: experience, development of contacts, possibly some pay. Outline what the commitment is for the benefits. Of course, the main benefit should be their personal development.

Use personal development as a benefit

Oftentimes motivated student content creators have a strong feeling of what digital media communications is and plenty of ideas on how to improve communications. These feelings and ideas tend to deal with personal social media experience and aesthetic changes. 

Motivated student volunteers are often surprised and keen to learn more about how the digital channels of a professional organisation are really managed, as well as how to vet, develop and schedule creative ideas in a systematic fashion.

Leverage technology

Set up a cloud storage system where student contributors can add media, posting copy and a short description of what their idea is.

Set up a Slack channel for contributors. Many might say a WhatsApp group is the best, but these can become dormant or non-constructive very quickly. Slack delivers an element of professionalism to proceedings, has many options to plan and deliver files and content and has powerful collaboration tools built in. It’s also available as an Android and iOS app so there’s no reason not to.

Have a monthly SGC meeting

Block a regular meeting for content contributors. Don’t call it a meeting though. This could be an editorial meetup or an ideas session. Your student volunteers shouldn’t feel as though they’re coming to another lecture, but a roundtable where they can pitch ideas and help others develop theirs.

The marketing team should be present and have a clear structure for the meeting:

  • Welcomes and introductions
  • Focus and aim of the session
  • Pitching
  • Selection and further development

Remember, the best ideas could also come from those who don’t speak up, or after the meeting in a social situation. Make sure you approach the quiet ones afterwards. It may also be worth appointing a reliable point of contact between the contributors and marketing, so any ideas that come up after the session between the students still reach you. 

Hit up the clubs

Have a student club highlight each week. This can count as an organised ‘on-diary’ event. Leverage the amount of clubs your university has, collaborate with the student clubs fair or student union, and speak with the relevant leading member.

Plan for competing demands

Students have busy and stressful lives. Good SGC planning recognises and respects this. To begin with, highlight exam periods, reading weeks and semester breaks in your content plan now to cover the shortfall. Be generous with these time periods as students will often be revising, or otherwise a bit stressed.

Legislate for dropouts

Students will sign up with the very best intentions but as soon as there’s a party or last minute trip to the lake organised on the same day as the university event they’re meant to be covering, you know which is going to win.

A good rule of thumb is to have three times as many student volunteers blocked for an event than you actually need. This way you have at least two fall backs if one is a no show. If all three show up you can always find more tasks and make good use of them.

Plenty of universities are worried about over staffing events with volunteers. The fact is potential students and their parents want to see current students and speak to as many motivated individuals as possible. 

Explore different content sources

There are plenty of content sources to look out for. It is the job of the marketing team to coallate and curate these content sources into a coherent thread and strategy. Content sources can be divided into on-diary and off-diary. On-diary are planned or otherwise forseeable events. Off-diary are more spontaneous content opportunities. You need to be ready to capitalise on both.


  • Relevant awareness days
  • Relevant political or social causes
  • University events
  • Graduation
  • Welcome Week
  • Exam season
  • High school graduation season
  • Club Fairs
  • Student events
  • Marketing materials
  • Campus tours
  • Program promotion
  • Student surveys
  • Campus changes


  • Spontaneous student achievements or positive actions.
  • Weather related topics such as snow.

Integrate SGC into your content plan

Plan on-diary content pieces at least one month in advance. Ideally, content should be roughly planned per quarter.

Make things easier to plan by having regular recurring themes in the content schedule. This will also make things more structured in the ideas generation stage and during the monthly content meeting mentioned above. For example:

Student account takeovers

Be sure there’s a process and on-boarding session in place. Students should sign an agreement covering the exact scope of the takeover, what features they are and are not allowed to use, who should handle comments and which topics should be forwarded to the marketing team (e.g., abuse, requests for data/information, potentially sensitive topics).

On-going SGC campaigns

If students know what regular aspect of the schedule they are going to appear in, their ideas become more refined and they can also carve out a content niche for themselves - making retention and commitment more likely.

Be ready to contact the most reliable student ambassadors should any off-diary content opportunities appear. It is only through trial and error that you will know who your most reliable contributors are. 


Your social media channels need to be the shop window through which you present the best possible student experience at your institution. What better way to do that than by engaging the students themselves and putting their content front and center in a curated manner?

Invest time in a Student Generated Content plan, systems to safeguard the university and the participating students, and a clear tone of voice, and you will soon see the benefits in engagement and conversations.

Need help getting your Student Generated Content strategy up and running? Words on Brand are here to help.

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