Gen Z will dominate the populations of freshman college students for the foreseeable future, forcing a shift in marketing and recruiting strategy to align with generational preferences. What changes should top management make to keep up with market trends?
User Generated Content Content generated by AKA students in our case.
The data is clear on what Gen Z wants or maybe Gen Z wants. They need authenticity and practicality and rely more on the opinions of their peers than on admissions counselors or school counselors to choose. a middle-school (NACAC).
Research outside of higher education confirms these results. According to a Bazaarvoice Global Consumer Survey, 73% of respondents aged 18 to 34 prefer when brands use user-generated content in their social media channels (THAT’S IT).
User-generated content is nothing new, but institutions are still missing out on opportunities to pivot their content strategies towards authentic student voices. I know « authentic » is perhaps the most used word in marketing, but listen to me. Students don’t want another talkative, scripted, fancy talking-head video. From the words of Dan Mote, please put on the cliché lab coats, beakers and filtered beauty photos of the campus (How to market a university).
Students want to see themselves in the content that institutions produce, and they want to see other students who are like them, share similar values and dreams, and represent the true student experience.
How to start or increase student-generated content? Start by taking inspiration from these great examples on social media:
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 frequently shares and posts content created by its students. I like the way they use multiple sources of student-generated content to modify their feed.
Retweet from a student’s Twitter account
Can you name a better view at 7am? pic.twitter.com/JM9QIyNXbo
– BlueHenLindsey (@BlueHenLindsey) January 12, 2021
– Univ. from Delaware (@UDelaware) February 4, 2021
– Univ. from Delaware (@UDelaware) November 9, 2020
First week of lessons ✅
? IG: shannajaninne pic.twitter.com/xztpvh7MyX
– Univ. from Delaware (@UDelaware) September 6, 2020
Posting a candid photo
Saturday study break with the pod ?? pic.twitter.com/J1efIUxOgj
– Univ. from Delaware (@UDelaware) January 30, 2021
– Chelsea Chatterton (@BlueHenChels) October 26, 2020
– Gina Cantatore (@BlueHenGina) 20 october 2020
TikTok and the University of Georgia
Ah, yes, TikTok. TikTok in higher education is like a love-hate relationship. A few institutions adopt while others watch with a suspicious eye, but we cannot deny the data.
So if you’re #TeamTikTok, the student-generated content is perfect for the platform and the University of Georgia proves that with its student videos. I love the way Georia University uses student-generated content to discuss and show important public health needs. Find out on their TikTok Account, and in this example below.
@universityofgaReply to @michaelcbanks // because the South Campus also needs love ## UGA ##middle School ## tiktokuniversity ## GoDawgs ##Campus♬ Campus – Vampire Weekend
University of Georgia
Pinterest and Duke University
Pinterest is not only a source of decoration inspiration, in fact there are many popular boards out there. you probably didn’t know it existed, including those related to college you can certainly do it in your own establishment.
When i came across Duke University Board of TrusteesI was pleasantly surprised at how much student generated 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 prime channel for reaching alumni and donors. That’s why Day in the Life of a McGill University student video caught my eye. It’s a great way to show McGill University to multiple audiences. Check it out!
Instagram and Babson College
Instagram is the main social platform for Generation Z in terms of daily use, it is therefore an obvious choice for higher education institutions. Instagram also has several ways to post content, including stories, a favorite among higher education students for showcasing student plays. I love the way Babson College has forwarded their Instagram Stories to current students so they can answer questions and provide information to prospective students.