Student Blogs in Higher Education. To Blog or not to Blog…
Over the last few weeks I have spoken to some VPs of marketing and recruiting who are reluctant to embrace student blogging because they do not want to give up control of their messaging. This blows my mind. Web 2.0 is based on the free flow of information. In the same way that I am publishing this blog entry, any student can (with or without a college’s blessing) publish a blog. By sponsoring student written blogs, you actually gain control – not lose it. Here are a few tips for those of you who are thinking about publishing student blogs on your website:
1) Pick the Right Students
You will want to select students who provide a good mix of culture, majors, interests and organizations. Don’t limit yourself to just the journalism students. Get an even mix of men and women from a variety of majors and organizations. Require a sample of “blog postings” from students interested in participating in your blog program. Just because a student wants to be a blogger doesn’t mean they are good at it. You need students who have a flair for writing interesting, relevant material in a fun, concise manner. For blogging, avoid the twitterer and, even worse, the dissertation author.
2) Help Your Bloggers
It can be tough for a student to sit down with a blank Word document think of relevant topics to write about. Help them by providing an ongoing list of topics which may be of interest to your prospective students. Perhaps there is a big sporting event, an annual tradition at the college or a ground breaking ceremony for a new building. You get the idea. You may also provide access to a professional editor/writer, such as a journalism professor, who can help your students improve their blogging skills.
3) Maximize Your Value
The value of a blog can be graphed on a two-dimensional X/Y plane. Call one axis RELEVANCE and the other one RECENT. A valuable blog is relevant and recently posted. If you are lagging in either of these factors, the value of your blog plummets. When you sign up your bloggers, ensure they understand the criticality of keeping their blog current. Have them sign an agreement that specifies a minimum posting requirement (we suggest one posting per week minimum). Monitor the blog activity. If a blogger goes past the minimum requirement timeline, send them an email reminding them to post. If missing the minimum becomes habitual, it’s time to find a new student blogger.
About the Author:
Tom Williams holds BS in business from The Ohio State University and an MBA in Marketing from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He founded InnoGage while at Kellogg and moved the company to Columbus Ohio in 2006. Tom is married to a very supportive and loving wife and has two high-energy boys.
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