Natalie Hesse Instagram

After finding success with their student correspondent program in the fall, which included Clemson student Paul Trimmier taking over the main account for the national championship, Instagram expanded it for the basketball season and chose Kentucky junior Natalie Hesse (who’s a sports marketing intern for Kentucky athletics) to cover the men’s Final Four for the main @Instagram account. The Instagram Student Section program saw the company partner with 30-plus schools during the season, including Gonzaga, UNC and Oregon, and they then picked Hesse from numerous submissions to cover the Final Four for @Instagram (and its 218 million followers). Hesse spoke to Awful Announcing via e-mail this week about her background, her social media philosophy, and what she hopes to accomplish at the Final Four.

Awful Announcing: How did you get involved with the Instagram Student Section program?

Natalie Hesse: I initially started out by running other social media platforms for our university’s athletic department during football games. Then once basketball season came around, Instagram reached out to our athletic department with the opportunity of choosing one student to create Instagram Stories for @ukathletics at least once a week. The athletic department reached out to me because of my prior experience with running our other accounts. I was so flattered and excited to have this opportunity, but never did I think that I would actually win and get the opportunity to create content on the @Instagram account for the Final Four!

AA: Between this and your other work with Kentucky athletics, you’re doing a lot of social media around games. What do you think makes good in-game social media content?

NH: If your content is making people at home want to be at the game, you know you are doing a good job. My main goal is to show fans what it would be like if they were at the game.

AA: I’ve been told you’re majoring in integrated strategic communications with a minor in digital media & design. Has your academic background been useful in doing sports social media content? And how do you combine academic knowledge and practical knowledge?

NH: My creative path in ISC has really prepared me for my job and has improved my creative abilities. Digital Media & Design has also prepared me because of my experience with my Photoshop and graphic design classes. I took a lot from these classes including both creativity and management and fit them into my Instagram Stories for UK Athletics. I was able to combine both academic and practical knowledge by planning and preparing for each upcoming game. I knew what content I wanted to feature and what tools I was going to use from the IG Stories features before I even got to the arena.

AA: How does Instagram compare to other social media platforms for in-game content?

NH: Instagram, in my opinion, is way ahead of all other platforms. With Instagram Stories, I am able to express my creative abilities and create exciting content that people will want to look at.

AA: Does being a current student give you any particular insight into what sort of content fans are looking for?

NH: Yes, as both a student and a fan, I am able to combine what both want to see in a social media platform for UK athletic events.

AA: What’s it going to be like covering other teams than Kentucky? Will anything change about your approach?

NH: I think it may be easier to cover other teams than Kentucky. Although I may have to do some research on players, coaches and other factors about the team/school, it will be easier because no bias will come into play.

AA: Is there anything that stands out to you about the Final Four, and what kind of stories you might be able to tell there?

NH: I hope to be able to show coverage from the city of Phoenix and the tone fans are setting. Last week, I was fortunate enough to go to Memphis to cover the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight for UK Athletics. With that, I was able to show a lot of content from the streets of Memphis of fans showing their pride. Again, this goes back to making every viewer wish they were there to experience what is being shown.

AA: Why should people check out your Final Four coverage?

NH: People should check out my Final Four content on the @Instagram account to get a taste of what Phoenix is like during this crazy time and see what they could be experiencing if they were in Phoenix.

Thanks to Natalie for her time. You can check out her Final Four content on @Instagram this weekend.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.