CSU increases media engagement with student vloggers

Isaiah Dennings

Colorado State University is trying something new in the world of media engagement, and it sounds (and looks) a lot like the late 2000s. The University is starting its own vlog series featuring students. 

The YouTube channel “A Ram’s Life” is the result of Chase Baker, CSU’s social and digital media manager, hiring CSU-sanctioned vloggers in order to boost media engagement. “The channel has now grown from a few hundred subscribers to 7,000 in only a few months,” Baker said. 

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The channel is a collection of vlogs from three students at CSU who post about what is going on in their lives. Baker oversees the vlogs and watches every one before it is posted. 

“As long as there is no violence, alcohol, drugs or other illegal things, they have as much creative freedom as they want,” Baker said.

Our audience wants to be invested in the lives of these people.” -Kellen Bakovich, social media intern for CSU external relations

The aim of the vlogs is to maintain a candid view of CSU, including “the good, the bad and the ugly,” Baker said. Baker said it is a way to “exemplify what life is like as a CSU student from multiple perspectives.”

The vloggers are treated as interns and are paid $13 per hour for six hours of work a week, under the conditions that they post at least one video per week.

CSU also pays other interns to help with media engagement. For example, Kellen Bakovich is a communications intern at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a social media intern for CSU External Relations.

Kellen posts to multiple platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and strives to “promote why we are the third-best veterinary university in the nation.”

“I think with the younger classes, that craze for vlogging is carrying over into the college search process,” Bakovich said.

In the age of digital media, “less of the target audience for college admission (those from ages 13-17) are using traditional social media like Facebook and Twitter, which is where a lot of CSU media still (resides),” Bakovich said. 

Promotion on more popular platforms, like Instagram, is gaining engagement traction, “although it has not exploded like the YouTube vlogs,” Bakovich said.

“Our social media accounts have really low engagement, and I think that this (vlogging) trend could possibly boost engagement,” Bakovich said. “Our audience wants to be invested in the lives of these people, and vlog format allows for a more intimate and meaningful relationship that they then associate with CSU.”

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Jamie Ittershagen, a first-year business major, is one of the vloggers from “A Ram’s Life,” and one of her videos led to a major spike in traffic to the channel. The video was of her visiting her long-distance boyfriend in Montana, and it has received over 825,000 views.

“As it kept growing, we kept getting more and more excited,” Ittershagen said.

Ittershagen is a part of the vlog team that consists of Grace Crangle, Ryan Haynes and Baker.  

Ittershagen and the rest of the vloggers have absolute freedom when creating videos. Ittershagen said the University is fairly open about allowing her to post about her own life.

The three vloggers are solely responsible for their content, meaning CSU does not make any unnecessary changes or write any content for the vloggers to post. The vloggers work as a team along with Baker to give each other feedback.

Baker and the vloggers plan on looking at different ways to expand the reach of the channel and continue to boost engagement. Ittershagen said they are talking about starting an Instagram page for the project.

“I really enjoyed having a team to help me with my vlogs, as it was just me before,” Ittershagen said. “Admissions can tell you what it’s supposed to be like and are paid to promote, but I give a realistic view from my experience and offer a good student-to-prospective-student network that we didn’t really have before.”

Isaiah Dennings can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @isaiah_dennings