With more millennials heading to college today, higher learning education institutions have dialed up their marketing strategies. Combined with the growing number of universities, it is now more important than ever to stand out. How do you as a university remain competitive and keep student enrollment high? While top universities may rely on their reputation, they too have to redevelop their marketing strategies to remain appealing to prospective students.
The solution to the problem is actually right under our noses. As we know, Gen-Y has been dubbed the generation of sharing. Students are sharing their campus experiences online as a form of expression on a regular basis. So, why not leverage on this to show why your institution is the place to be? The content created is dubbed as user generated content (UGC) or more appropriately, student generated content. With the help of the right tool, your university can make this content work in your favor.
Sparkle can help you make use of UGC to create an enticing and memorable education journey for students. And this, my friend, is how top universities such as the Harvard Law School and University of Oxford have been attracting students like bees to honey.
Every year, the University of Oxford holds a fortnight program known as the Summer Doctoral Programme (SDP), which hosts outstanding doctoral students globally, in aims of promoting international networking and collaboration. For the program, they partnered with Sparkle to create a public avenue on their web, their SDP social hub which collects student generated content based on the hashtag #oiisdp. The hub gives potential future participants a unique glance behind the scenes of SDP. It is also enticing potential attendants to imagine the experience waiting for them if they get accepted.
While the SDP programme´s prestige is undeniably attractive, it does not mean that recruitment effort ends. As for any other institution, to connect to my beginning, the fight for the students’ attention is tightening. In the case of higher education recruitment, student generated content is beneficial to use as it displays insights into students’ campus experience and due to its authenticity, enhances trust and connects to our feelings. Hence, the content can elicit a desire by viewers to undergo the same experience for themselves. This, in turn, can be tapped on to drive up enrollment applications.
2. Reassurance strengthens decision
Going to university has become some sort of rite over the years and this poses a problem for student recruitment. The motivation for higher education has changed from getting a job to a chance for self-development. So, how will you be able to stand out among all 26,368 higher education institutions around the globe?
Every student has his own set of criteria for choosing a school. But, I believe that for most of us, it is not only the quality of education but also the university community – the student life and the environment that is the deciding factor. Thus, it is important to let prospects glimpse into what is it like to be part of the community. As a student myself, I remember when I chose my placing at the National University of Singapore. It was not enough when staff boasted about the university ranking and how accredited their curriculum was. We can find all of that online. What I wanted was genuine opinions from current students, as a form of reassurance to my decision.
Trust your students to build the reputation and vibe of the university through their social posts to attract potential freshmen. Your students are probably already spreading good words by posting about their campus lives on their personal accounts. Enhance your student recruitment strategies and leverage on user-generated content with an aggregator such as Sparkle. Sparkle allows you to re-purpose the content for your institutions’ marketing. And it also lets you moderate the feed, to sieve out unrelated, negative or damaging posts that may have accidentally surfaced. This ensures a visualization of only the messages that are strengthening your University brand, minimising chances of public backlashes. By doing so, you are not only reassuring students but also their parents, that your school is their top choice.
3. Showcase what is uniquely you
The last way to enhance your recruitment drive is to directly showcase the exciting events that only your student get to attend. Be it at open houses or enrollment web pages, showcasing maximizes prospect exposure to information that they regard as important for decision making. It is crucial to highlight specific events that are unique to your institution, as your potential students will be making their rounds and comparing the different schools available.
A benefit of highlighting events is that there will be a collection of student generated content ready to be used by you! Events such as balls, graduation and commencement ceremonies are great ways to collect user generated content as your students would definitely have taken heaps of photos, because who wouldn’t?
An example of such an event is Harvard Law School’s Bicentennial Barristers’ Ball 2017. Rather than it being a regular ball with photo booths and performances, the University threw in a fun element of Sparkle which sparked endless photo-taking and sharing on social media. Having a social wall creates opportunities and an unforgettable experience for students to be featured in a room filled with possibly thousands of their schoolmates. Sounds exhilarating, doesn’t it?
The event concluded with a potential reach of 459,793 unique individuals. If you could imagine the number of potential students that were among the figure, coupled with the display on either your website or offline screen at open houses. No matter how small or big the percentage, the outreach goes a long way in increasing potential enrollment figures.
User generated content opens up doors to market your university with the voice of the students – a voice that is hard for prospective students to ignore. Sign up for your free trial now! ✨