Gen Z will dominate the first-year student population in higher education in the near future, forcing a change in marketing and recruitment strategy to match the preferences of the generation. What changes should higher education make to stay abreast of market trends?
User-Generated Content Content created by AKA students.
The details are clear about what Gen Z wants or maybe demands. They demand authenticity and practicality and rely more on the opinions of their peers than on access or school counselors (NACAC).
Research outside the higher level supports these findings. According to a global consumer survey by Bazaarvoice, 73% of respondents aged 18-34 prefer brands to use user-generated content social media channels (CSA).
User-generated content is not new, but educational institutions are still losing the opportunity to turn their content strategies towards genuine, student voices. I know “genuine” may be the most used word on the market, but listen to me. Students don’t want another polished, scripted, talking main video. In words Dan Mote, put down clinical lab coats, beakers and filtered beauty images from campus (How to market a university).
Students want to see themselves in content production and want to see other students who look alike, have the same values and dreams, and represent a real student experience.
How do you either start or add student-created content? Start with inspiration from these great examples on social channels:
Twitter and the University of Delaware
While browsing the university’s Twitter accounts, I came across the University of Delaware. Compared to other Higher Ed accounts, @UDelaware often shares and publishes content created by students. I like how they use multiple student-created content sources to change their feed.
Retweeting from the student’s own Twitter account
Can you mention the more beautiful view at 7 o’clock? pic.twitter.com/JM9QIyNXbo
– BlueHenLindsey (@BlueHenLindsey) January 12, 2021
Content from Instagram
– Univ. Of Delaware (@UDelaware) February 4, 2021
– Univ. Of Delaware (@UDelaware) November 9, 2020
First week of classes
📸 IG: shannajaninne pic.twitter.com/xztpvh7MyX
– Univ. Of Delaware (@UDelaware) September 6, 2020
Please send a sincere photo
On Saturday, study with a break pod 💙💛 pic.twitter.com/J1efIUxOgj
– Univ. Of Delaware (@UDelaware) January 30, 2021
– Chelsea Chatterton (@BlueHenChels) October 26, 2020
– Gina Cantatore (@BlueHenGina) October 20, 2020
TikTok and the University of Georgia
So if you’re #TeamTikTok, the content created by students is perfect for the platform, and the University of Georgia proves it with its student videos. I love how the University of Geography uses student-created content to discuss and showcase important public health needs. Check it out for them TikTok accountand in the example below.
@suomimeemitReply @michaelcbanks // because South Campus also needs love ## UGA ##college ## tikokuniversity ## GoDawgs ##campus♬ Campus – Vampire Weekend
University of Georgia
Pinterest and Duke University
Pinterest isn’t just an interior inspiration, in fact, there are many popular records you probably didn’t know about existenceincluding related to higher education you could definitely do in your own facility.
When I came across Duke University Board, I was pleasantly surprised at how much student-created content was used.
Facebook and McGill University
Higher Ed also has a love-hate relationship with Facebook, but this channel is still a great way to reach Gen Z.. It is also a top channel to reach the alumni and the donor. That’s why McGill University’s student video life of the day caught my attention. This is a great way to show multiple audiences at McGill Univeristy. Check it out!
Instagram and Babson College
Instagram is the leading social platform for Gen Z. in terms of daily use, so it is an obvious choice for higher education institutions. Instagram also has several ways to post content, including stories, a favorite among seniors to showcase student pieces. I love how Babson College handed over its Instagram story to current students so they can answer questions and give insights to potential students.