As more Gen Z enters university, we will have a fresh change in different aspects of their life.
The way students get along with each other has changed a lot over time and that's likely to continue. One trend includes the way students regularly interact with their peers and the world at large.
Universities can incorporate social media into their curriculum to keep up with the changing generation.
It's important to engage students on these platforms because that’s the best way schools can cater to the tastes of their students. They can leverage this even more by employing user-generated content (UGC).
(In addition to UGC, here are 49 more tricks you can employ to increase your Instagram followers.)
What is user-generated content?
User-generated content refers to any content (including texts, videos, and pictures) created by customers as opposed to businesses.
Random people who do not have a recognizable face create these types of content, making them less promotional than most content created by companies and brands.
When you're running a business (in this case, a school, college, or university), it's important to see what your customers think about it. UGC is based on the customer's experience and can provide honest insight into how things are going for your company.
It’s an honest assessment of a brand's product or service, so it provides visibility from the customer's perspective. Brands are more likely to use UGC because it gives them a better understanding of how their customers feel about their product or service.
Instagram has been the main platform for sharing school-based UGC—it’s where you can find a lot of content from a school's community.
Users (i.e., students) create and share posts featuring their schools, exposing their works and services to their followers. The school can then share the content with followers who are interested in what the university is doing, boosting their credibility in the process.
After reading this post, you’ll understand why it’s important to create a user-generated content strategy and how to engage students using UGC.
User-generated content, AKA student-generated content
Generation Z has a need for practicality. They often care about peers' opinions when it comes to selecting a college and avoid more traditional, school-based resources as much as possible. So, peer influence plays a big role in a student’s college decision.
A lot of people prefer to read and share user-generated content on social media, as they're seen to be more informative and less stressful.
In a report from Bazaarvoice, 73% of the survey respondents who are between the ages of 18-34 said that they find UGC on social media more engaging than advertisements.
User-generated content is a well-established practice in the marketing world. It's important to allow students to participate in your content creation and make use of their unique insight. Colleges would miss out on authentic college student voices if they don't adopt this strategy.
There is a movement towards flipping the whole narrative about college. Students who are searching for ways to get more information on particular schools find professional video talks a waste of their time.
They are no longer interested in the old story and picture of a college with beautiful infrastructure, nice laboratories, and smart professors.
All these methods will cease to be relevant in wooing students who would eventually get attracted only to institutions that focus on the needs of current and future students.
Colleges should consider how they can engage students more with their programs. Marketing, social media outlets, events - these all help bring in new and current students to choose your college over others.
Students want to mingle with students who understand them, and your institution needs to provide a space they can feel like they belong in. Nowadays, students crave practical experiences they can be a part of.
Using social media to keep students engaged and excited about school
Schools are increasingly engaging their students early on with social platforms. This is an important way to stay connected and get them excited in anticipation of the school year ahead.
You can get the job done by following these steps:
1. Inform them about the latest updates
Schools have recently begun to use social media to provide students and faculty with recent information on school activities, such as upcoming events and resources.
A popular way of getting students to engage with your school's social content is to provide updates on returning staff. The University of Florida has recently updated its followers on this topic - something they do often.
2. Give room for questions
Schools should leverage the power of social media for student questions. This platform provides a sense of belonging and helps develop students' interest in their learning. It also fosters active thinking, practical work, and digital citizenship, plus students love to express themselves.
The more students engage with your content, the more algorithms will notice it. This means that when social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram see an increase in people interacting with your content (likes, comments, etc.), they'll move you up in the search rankings.
3. Create Facebook groups for student interaction
Schools are increasingly using Facebook groups to help boost engagement and interaction among students. It's a great way to bring together an online community or tribe.
Groups can be based on a variety of different clustered subjects, such as ones for specific courses of study, departments, or faculty within the school, or interests such as sports teams and creative clubs.
4. Promote their activities on your social feeds
Schools should share students' spotlight on their social media channels - this is certainly one of the best ways to keep them engaged.
The school could partner with a student who has done something extraordinary and ask them to make a video, which can be great for student recognition and school promotion.
If you make your students participate and encourage them to share their opinions online, this can have a big impact on your exposure. It can motivate incoming and existing students and of course, such UGC has prospects of going viral. Sharing user content will help promote the brand of your school and make it more appealing to new members.
5. Promote campus events and activities through UGC
Schools can use social platforms to inform students of on-campus events. Many schools are already doing this because it’s a great way to get students engaged. Design your pages to announce and showcase campus events and activities like debates, competitions, award ceremonies, excursions, sporting events, and hangouts.
When you implement this approach with UGC, most students are likely to engage because such content resonates with them.
In the past, colleges excelled by selling cliches like "good laboratories, smart professors, or nice courses of study." Today's students want more information and options before they enroll in university; they want to be part of the community where they learn.
Different institutions can give students a sense of being part of the entire process, providing them with the opportunity to voice their opinion and interact with others who share their concerns about anything—goals, aspirations, and all.
A millennial or Gen Z might prefer the recommendation of a friend to a school counselor because there's no point in asking someone they don't know.
Institutions need to market themselves accordingly. The new technique is making sure that many students are not only involved but want to talk about the school. Today's generations are more interested in experience than just being told what to do; it’s the only way your university can serve this generation.