With many universities shutting down or delivering online classes due to the COVID-19 outbreak, universities may wonder how to stay connected with their students. After all, if students are quarantined at home it’s hard to have that college experience. But just because we’re practicing “social distancing” doesn’t mean that we have to be socially isolated. Here are some ideas for user-generated content (UGC) campaigns that universities can try out to connect with their students online and build a sense of camaraderie during these uncertain times.

1. Ask Students to Show #WhereIStudyNow

Consider taking a cue from Trello’s #WhereITrello campaign, an effort that TINT profiled as one of the five ways to use social media UGC. Trello, an online project management and list-making application, has many users who work remotely. The company invited them to show off their workspaces and post images of them with the hashtag #WhereITrello.

Universities have a similar opportunity to connect with students by asking them to post where they are now studying with a #WhereIStudy-inspired hashtag. Students can show how they are adapting to the situation and maybe even share some best practices of how to buckle down and get the work done amid the distractions at home.

2. Highlight a New #StudyBuddy

In light of study groups being disbanded, many students could be turning to other study buddies as they work from home. Whether it’s an adorable pet, child or even stuffed animal, use the opportunity to let your students show who—or what—their new study buddy is. If the buddy is sporting the school colors, even better!

On the same note, consider hashtag challenges and some gamification to encourage students to continue working together online. New study buddies could include people that they might not normally connect with in class. See if students can flip the script and work with different peers or make new friends during these unusual days.

3. Demonstrate Unity with #MyFightSong

Many students lost out on a major way to show off their school spirit when March Madness was canceled. One of the reasons that sports feel viscerally important is that they connect us to our tribe members. And with the tournament canceled and spring sports suspended, many people are missing this connection.

Help maintain the collegiate spirit by hosting a #MyFightSong UGC campaign. Ask your students to sing and perform your school’s fight song and upload it online. From there, cull some of the best entries and cut them together to showcase a variety of students singing your school’s song. Not only can this campaign showcase unity, it can also highlight the diversity of your students and where they come from.

4. Showcase #HowImHelping

Sure, COVID-19 has had dramatic effects on the economy and our daily lives. But in spite of this tragedy, there are plenty of people doing good things for their communities. As Fred Rogers, aka “Mr. Rogers,” once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

This is your chance to look for those helpers among your students and highlight the good work they’re doing in their communities. Many are shopping for their elderly neighbors, assisting with food bank efforts or even donating blood. Ask them to share their experiences with a #HowImHelping hashtag. Don’t let the grim outlook overshadow the positivity that your students are bringing into the world.

Highlight Student-Driven UGC with TINT

Please note that each of these hashtag ideas should be customized with your university name or mascot to make them unique to your school. Not only will this help you surface relevant UGC with the TINT content aggregator, it will also help students connect with their peers across physical locations by searching the social networks on those hashtags.

But take it a step further. After finding some of the best UGC posts, reach out to those students and request the rights to repurpose the content. From there, your digital marketing team can use the materials across social media platforms and in email newsletters to highlight your students and continue to build meaningful connections. Furthermore, you can set up a page on your website that uses TINT’s experience builder to effortlessly create a web gallery of all your student-driven UGC.

Obviously these are trying times. Our lives have been upended, and the ways that traditional higher education is delivered the remainder of this semester have fundamentally changed. But in spite of the news, there is still a lot of good happening in the world and meaningful connections can be made. TINT is proud to play a small role in facilitating this interaction. If you have any questions or want to see how TINT can assist with your UGC efforts, please request a demo today

Header photo by delfi de la Rua on Unsplash.


Garrett Heath is a social media and content marketing consultant and founder of MarketingBytes.io.