Cara Lambregts

Using student voices to rise above the noise


The Higher Education market is crowded with more digital noise than ever before and breaking through the noise barrier has proven to be more and more difficult as the years go by. It is now more important than ever to leverage your content to ensure that your programmes stand out.

One of the easiest ways to break through the digital noise is to leverage the student voice and student generated content. Generation Z desires authenticity and can tell when content is genuine. By encouraging students to create content and incorporating it in your recruitment strategy, you are able to have content that potential students can connect to and find relevant – highlighting how your institution can be the right fit for them.

By leveraging student content and reviews and utilising student ambassadors, you will be able to break through the digital noise and encourage students to look at your institution as a viable option for their future study plans.

User generated content

“People come to the website to understand the official face of the university. On social  media channels, they’re digging to get more of the real deal. What is the university like? What kind of things are actually happening on campus? What kind of projects are students working on? So social media content must be an authentic representation of life on campus – the good and the bad.”

– Laura Montgomery, Senior Director of College and Enrolment Marketing at The New School

Every year, platform popularity is shifting and changing. A few years ago, Facebook groups were considered very popular, especially in countries such as India. However, new platforms such as Instagram, Tik Tok, Whatsapp, and BeReal have grown in popularity for prospective students. Staying on the popular platforms will help you maintain a presence in the mind of your audience.

Content can be made by encouraging students through the use of competitions or  incentives or you can find content that is made by a student and ask for permission to repurpose it on your platforms – for example, “Day in my life” vlogs, admission decision videos, etc. Keeping updated on current trends hashtags and topics that students find important will also encourage more interactions.

You can also enhance this connection by utilizing regional and international accounts. By doing this, you are able to tailor content to the select group  of students you are trying to reach. Don’t forget to remain authentic in all of your communication, Generation Z is a stickler for authenticity and they will notice when you are not being genuine.

By including extra tools, such as student-led virtual campus tours, you are able to bring an additional level of engagement with students. When you offer more opportunities for students to interact digitally, you are able to enhance their experience and encourage them to take this step towards becoming part of your institution.

Student ambassadors

Student ambassadors facilitate peer-to-peer conversations that increase engagement and enrolment rates These conversations provide opportunities for potential students to ask questions they may have about your programmes and student life, while allowing them access to what the experience is really like at your institution. This builds an extra layer of trust and confidence to apply. It also allows students to experience being part of the community around your institution.

Platforms such as Unibuddy can help facilitate these types of conversations directly from Studyportals website, providing more opportunities for students to reach out in a manner that is most comfortable to them. Students can interact with ambassadors based on shared interests, origin country or geographic location.

This allows information about your institution to capture the imaginations of students earlier in their student journey. It is also important for them right across the process.

 “The questions will be different, depending on which stage of the student application journey they are at. It’s absolutely key, during that conversion period   when students are weighing up their options.”

– Layla Williamson, The University of York’s International Operations Manager for International Recruitment, Partnerships and Mobility

Student reviews

Students value personal and realistic information from their peers. It is understandable that people see reviews as far more credible and trustworthy than marketing material. Reviews also tend to help students get to grips with some of the nuances they care about.

“Access to information and experiences from former students made my decision to study abroad stronger. It helped me choose the right university with more confidence, and it shows in my career. That’s why I also shared my personal experiences, so I can continue the tradition for future students.” 

– Anush Satheesh – Student from India, studying in Germany

Student reviews are a shining example of social proof. They are a unique and authentic way to provide reliable information to students and build credibility. Studyportals research team found that, 77% of students found programme and university reviews either important or very important. One student even shared that “Reviews were one of the most important factors for my final decision.”

Reviews are the first-person perspective that your strategy could be missing to bring in students who may still have questions. Reviews, however, are not only for providing social proof but can also be an integral recruitment tool. From a marketing perspective, reviews increase click-through and conversion rates as well as speeding up decision making. They also encourage students to continue moving further down your marketing funnel. The more that these potential students identify with your current students, the more likely they are to connect with your institution.

Listen to your students and encourage them to share their story in as many ways as possible. The Global Student Satisfaction Awards are a great way for you to hear the voices of students and learn what they think of your institution.

The Global Student Satisfaction awards are the only student-powered global university overview capturing feedback on life inside and outside the classroom. The Awards empower students to share their views, to create recognition for the best universities in the world. Learn more about how you can participate in the Global Student Satisfaction Awards here.

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