Content marketing is vital for brands looking to connect with their audiences. Relevant, useful content has the power to teach, engage, and build trust with your audience in ways you never could with traditional tactics. But the benefits increase exponentially when you also tap into user-generated content to harness the power of community.

When we first partnered with Cornell University’s College of Engineering (“COE”), our goals were to help COE – a top-ranked engineering school in the nation – amplify its presence as an academic leader in the engineering space. While secondary educators and guidance counselors are a critical audience, our qualitative research suggested that COE’s sweet-spot is young makers and emerging engineers.

How could COE develop an authentic relationship of mutuality with these students during their formative years? How could COE best provide them with a safe space to learn about engineering and all its related fields and connect them with like-minded students?

CollabSpace is born

After extensive beta-testing, our iFactory web design and development team built and soft-launched CollabSpace this summer. It’s a place where students can:

  • Learn Skills (through COE’s partnership with Instructables, an acclaimed DIY site);
  • Upload/share their own projects with other makers and peruse Project ideas posted by COE professors
  • Engage with other makers; and
  • Get advice & mentoring from Cornell professors and graduate students

An authentic approach to content marketing

A tenet of content marketing and a beacon for COE, in this case, was to provide a space – and content – specifically for its audience, without coming off as a vehicle for recruitment. COE is driven to encourage youth interested in science, engineering, and making – and appreciates that its status as a top institution along with its great faculty offer inherent credibility to the information it shares on the site. That reliable river of content flowing from top Ivy League minds to passionate users, combined with the audience’s own passion for making, is what positions CollabSpace as a unique fusion of content marketing and user-generated content.

Creating positive change

In short, we’re excited about the growth possibilities of combining Cornell human capital (through sharing COE Projects, Mentor advice, and more) with a platform designed to spur discussion and project sharing among students. We also hope this will increase STEM opportunities and help erode socio-economic silos by providing a free community to serve underprivileged and underserved populations. CollabSpace has already amassed 400+ members in its pre-promotion phase, as we monitor engagement metrics, listen to the early-adopter community members, and formally unveiled it at Maker Faire in New York City.