SBJ/March 27-April 2, 2017/Media

Instagram expands its student program

Instagram is expanding its student ambassador program to generate more college sports content for the social media platform.

Students from 30 of the top college basketball schools were picked to create content for their teams’ Instagram accounts through the regular season. From those 30, a student from the University of Kentucky was selected to go to the Final Four in Phoenix, where she will take over the Instagram account and provide content for its 217 million followers.

Natalie Hesse will create content in Phoenix.
Photo: COURTESY OF NATALIE HESSE
Natalie Hesse, who studies integrated strategic communications and digital media at Kentucky, while also serving a sports marketing internship in the athletic department, will be Instagram’s student ambassador at this week’s Final Four.

“This initiative opens the door for them to participate in a new wave of sports media production while at school,” said Will Yoder, who works on sports partnerships for Instagram. “Whereas students have previously been able to get involved through the student newspaper, TV or radio station, products like Instagram Stories introduce a new, authentic platform through which to tell stories around college sports in a way that feels native and intuitive to a younger generation.”

Instagram ran a similar program for the College Football Playoff championship game in Tampa, where a Clemson digital media student, Paul Trimmier, was selected to take over the Instagram account.

Hesse, a junior from Pittsburgh, sheepishly admits that she had Duke winning her bracket, “so I’m not doing too well,” but she promises to do a better job of reporting from Phoenix than she did picking a winner. Her goal on Instagram at the Final Four will be the same as it was at Kentucky games during the season.

“I just wanted to show everyone who’s watching my story what it’s like to be there, and I wanted to create content that made them want to be there as well,” Hesse said.

West Virginia was one of the 30 schools that participated in the student ambassador program, and found that students are often best suited to create content for the platform because Instagram’s youthful audience is largely made up of students. Teens are heavily engaged with sports on Instagram — 30 percent of the top 100 accounts followed by teens are sports-related.

“It’s a unique way to let students get involved because they know better than anyone the type of content best suited for that platform,” said Grant Dovey, the digital media manager at West Virginia.

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