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Why You Need Student Content Creators

15 min read

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Thaís Roberto
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Student-created content is a guaranteed way to generate student interest, and more and more prospective students are turning to the current student body for the information they need, rather than to the college itself.
Instagram and TikTok are becoming more integral to higher ed professionals marketing to the next generations of students, but what content works? And how can it help boost your college's reputation without it looking desperate?
Here is a look at a few universities that are impressing the higher ed community in this area, as well as some tips and insights into using social media as a marketing tool for new students. 

Reaching Gen Z

A strong and consistent online presence is one of the most effective ways to reach potential students, particularly Gen Z-ers. However, simply putting out promotional content isn't enough. A content marketing strategy needs to understand what content prospective students are interested in and how best communicate it to them.

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Generation Z grew up in a world with information readily available. They look for immediate solutions and lose interest quickly when the content they consume isn't direct. They want to feel genuinely connected to what they are engaging with - be it a brand, an influencer, or a university.
This personal connection must happen straight away. If your audience doesn't identify with your content from the start, they will move on to the next recommended item until they find something that grabs them. Previous generations might have put more trust in authority figures - faculty, recruiters, or department heads - but, for Gen Z, the people who inspire the most trust are those who resemble them.
Putting your students front and center of your content marketing plan is how you ensure future students will stop and listen to what you want to say. And, because Gen Z favors content that can be quickly consumed, video is the best way to reach them.
When we asked prospective students in our 2022 State of Student Recruitment survey what they found most helpful when deciding where to study, 22.78% selected student stories - the third-highest answer after funding information and rankings lists. 
Here are some universities that have made great use of the latest video marketing trends and understood exactly how to tap into the Gen Z market.

Syracuse University

 

Syracuse's content ranges from the newest TikTok trends to student life tips and Q&As with current undergraduates. By featuring Syracuse's own students sharing their experiences, advice, and daily-life, prospective applicants can see themselves in the videos and connect with the university's community before even applying.

Syracuse University doesn't stick only to the challenges and trends that go viral on the platform, but also provides content with genuine value to student prospects.

University of Sydney

Australia's first university leans highly on student participation. With one of the most popular university TikTok profiles, the University of Sydney goes beyond student tips and challenges and creates an in-campus immersion through videos.
@sydney_uni

Last night of Sem and everyone still be at uni studying 📚🙇🏻‍♂️ pt. 1 of 3 #usyd #sydneyuni #uni #unitok #university #studentlife

♬ original sound - University of Sydney

 

They have earned millions of views on their page, with a single video being watched as many as 2.5 million times. Between campus tours, city tours, open day promos, and student advice, the University of Sydney creates simple but entertaining videos, showcasing the best campus life offers and proving that studying at USYD is something no one wants to miss out on.

University of Toronto

The University of Toronto has several channels across social media, including a popular TikTok profile. But what stands out when it comes to student-centric content is the U of T Student Life Instagram page.
The profile works as a hub for current or future students might need to know. The feed features news, success stories, Q&As, and general advice that can be useful even for students outside of the university. The story highlights work as a great way to organize the content by topic, making navigation easier for those interested in specific information.
Lastly, the Linktree on the bio holds easy access to a myriad of external resources. One of the best in there is the "Life at U of T" blog, which contains frequent posts written by students sharing their personal experiences on campus - a goldmine for those interested in a more intimate knowledge of the main aspects of student life.
McMaster University

McMaster university screengrav

The McMaster University Admissions Instagram page makes great use of stories and highlights. Below the profile bio, students can quickly access previous campus tours, Q&As about entrance awards and scholarships, FAQs, and a long sequence of student takeovers.
During student takeovers, students from different fields post a series of stories throughout the day, showing their daily routine and using a question box to prompt interested students to ask any questions about university life.
Their feed also holds all sorts of important information: upcoming dates, events, webinars, and the occasional testimonial video from current students.
University of Birmingham
@unibirmingham

Starting uni next month? Our recent grads have some tips for you … #fyp #uni #unilife #birmingham #student

♬ Canyons - Official Sound Studio
The University of Birmingham's TikTok profile features a lot of graduation-centered content. With snapshots of a graduation ceremony's best moments and recent graduates sharing what wisdom they've acquired over their time in university, Birmingham blends aspirational videos with casual and laid-back content.
The most informal videos on their page include students chatting with residents about local customs and suggestions of the best study spots around campus, with the occasional study tips and instructions on applying to the university.
Students at the forefront
What most of these videos have in common (and what creates a sense of authenticity) is that they feature students interacting with each other and the viewer without the presence of faculty or staff. This direct line to students already enrolled enhances the personal connection between the spectator and the content creator.
Don't be afraid to make charismatic and engaging students the face of your social media presence. The next generation of university applicants would much rather enjoy a quick and simple video of fellow students being themselves around campus than a big, inspirational video with a high production value.

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