User generated content: Tips for working with student creators

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Thaís Roberto
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The importance of authenticity in any marketing strategy is hardly a novelty. And, with advertisement services becoming increasingly accessible, customers are becoming less trusting of what is immediately perceived as promotional content.

Universities are turning to their students to remedy traditional advertisements’ lack of credibility and create content that reaches the desired audience. After all, students possess an unparalleled ability to connect with and meet their peers at their level.

By sharing personal experiences, insights, and talents, they bring a sense of authenticity and genuineness to the content that traditional marketing efforts often struggle to achieve.

This article will provide insights into what forms of user-generated content to explore within your marketing strategy and how to best work with your student creators.

Maintain quality control

Trust students’ instincts, but make the final call on what goes. Combine their knowledge of what the audience wants with your experience of what aligns with the school’s brand and what generates the best results.

If you’re working with student ambassadors on content for the university’s channels, establish clear guidelines and brief your creators on what is expected of them. Moderate their access to any school accounts and avoid publishing without previous approval from a member of your marketing staff.

Utilizing UGC doesn’t mean accepting low-quality material. Ensure that everything submitted by student creators meets the same quality standards as any other marketing content: for example, if it’s in video format, verify the image and sound quality, add proper captioning, and edit when necessary; if it’s text-based, make sure there are no grammatical errors or tone inconsistencies.

And don’t hesitate to provide feedback to your creators, highlighting which aspects of their creation work for the university and which don’t. Through clear communication between both parties, your UGC will be continuously optimized.

Amplify your reach through multiple channels

Don’t keep their work exclusively on social media. While Instagram or TikTok is usually where UGC drives the highest engagement rates, the content for these platforms can easily be repurposed and shared on other channels like Twitter or Facebook and easily incorporated into your institutional website through widgets.

Take the time to explore the benefits of other forms of user-generated content. Short-form videos on the most popular platforms are a great tool to attract prospective students and guide them from the top to the middle of the enrollment funnel, but students closer to making the final decision might benefit more from long-form content like blog posts containing specific information on the application process, course enrollment, and student life.

 

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Georgetown University is one example of a remarkable student blogging strategy: their “From a Student” blog has been active since 2015, accumulating nearly a decade of authentic and relevant student stories. Covering topics like “5 Pieces of Advice I Wish I Got as a Freshman” and “A Student’s Reflection on Her First Semester of College at Georgetown, the blog is full of valuable advice for any student considering applying to the university.

Be aware of what students want to know

Monitor your social media channels frequently. Gather what questions students ask about the university, the application process, in what context your school is mentioned, and keywords people are using and associating with your brand. Once you know what prospective students want to learn about your institution, select the topics that would be best approached by a student and choose the best creator for the job.

To get the most out of your student creators, know where their strength lies and use it to the best of their potential. Shy students may not stand out as good candidates to create viral TikTok videos, but they can be excellent writers to be featured on a student blog.

Another creator may not be a prolific writer or trend expert, but their communication skills and approachability make them a great host for live chats and information sessions, building trust and rapport with students interested in the school.

Keep track of your results

Like any other content strategy, UGC should be monitored through clearly defined and measurable KPIs, revealing which formats and channels drive the best results. Tracking metrics such as views, likes, shares, comments, click-throughs, and conversion rates will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Ideally, your strategy should encompass multiple channels and formats, but rather than posting everything everywhere, it is considerably more effective to select the best-performing type of content and focus your efforts on what is proven to achieve the best results.

Beyond just tracking metrics, fostering a culture of continuous improvement within your UGC strategy is essential. Encourage feedback from both your audience and creators, and use it to refine your content and campaigns over time. By staying agile and responsive to evolving trends and preferences, you can ensure that your strategy remains effective and impactful in driving engagement, conversions, and overall brand loyalty.

Embrace creativity and collaboration

Incorporating user-generated content into your strategy can be a game-changer, and working with dedicated and creative students is key to reaching its full potential. By harnessing their authenticity through storytelling and collaboration, you can create lasting connections with prospective students and stand out among your competitors.

Embrace the creativity and innovation that student creators bring to the table while being mindful of the quality and consistency of their work, and watch as your UGC strategy breathes new life into your marketing efforts.

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