We’ve all been there. You need a new hair dryer/pair of headphones/favourite mug. You head to Amazon to check out the options. Filters on, you click on the first listing – it’s an “Amazon’s Choice” product, that’s promising. The page loads and you quickly skim over the details. Ignoring the shiny product photos and manufacturer’s promises, you keep scrolling to the bottom of the page. Perfect, the reviews – helpfully uploaded by likeminded customers who have even included several photos of the product so you can see it for yourself. Armed with your new trustworthy information, you head to the original business’ website to complete your purchase. Shop small!
85% of users find visual user generated content to be far more trustworthy and persuasive than the brand’s own photos and videos. It’s for that reason that we spend more time in the reviews section of Amazon than reading the actual product details, and it’s for that reason that it’s so important for universities to encourage those in their communities to create content for them! However, anyone who has tried this knows that it’s not always the easiest thing to achieve, so keep reading to find out ways that you can encourage people to submit content about your institution…
1. Engage with your audience
This one might be a little obvious by now, but a little engagement goes a long way. I find that when a brand takes the time to like or reply to my comment, I feel very valued as an audience member because I know how many other likes, comments, and messages they have to keep up with. This is a great way of building a friendly rapport with your audience and it may encourage them to feel like they want to share this with others.
Equally, if somebody does create or share your content, make sure you interact with that too! A ‘thank you’ and a repost makes the creator more likely to do it again in the future, and that user generated content on your platform is great for your brand!
2. Start a hashtag campaign
Creating a brand specific hashtag encourages your audience to purposefully post content of your university or brand. There have been some great examples of this over the years, one of my favourites being from the now huge clothing brand, Lucy & Yak. The wacky dungarees business started the #InMyYaks campaign with the line “tag #InMyYaks to feature!” and went from small scale local business to worldwide marketing genius with over 500K followers on Instagram. They are great at engaging with their community and the InMyYaks hashtags has over 5000 posts on Instagram – that’s over 5000 user generated advertisements for how fun and comfortable their products are!
3. Direct your audience
Again, this may seem like a no-brainer but actually directing your audience to use your hashtags helps too. You know in those YouTube videos, you always get those slightly annoying vloggers who say, “remember to like, comment, and subscribe!” at the end. Well, turns out, it kind of works! We all know the subscribe button is there, but it’s easy to forget to interact with it when you’re focussed on the video. Same goes for hashtag campaigns. More than 50% of consumers wish brands would provide guidance on how to create reviews for their content, but only 16% of brands do. This guidance can be as simple as “remember to use our hashtag on social media to be featured on our page/so we can see how much our students are loving uni life!”
4. Run a competition
Everybody loves the chance to win something, and you can use this to encourage people to submit content. Creating a post that says “submit your favourite photo of campus and we will feature them all/our favourites – the best one will win £100/a gift voucher to the university café/a £20 Netflix voucher”/or whatever it is you want to give away. This requires very little setup, but the incentive can rake in quite a big return!
5. Run an ambassador programme
This is a longer term, more consistent version of the competition. Universities can create student ambassador programmes where in return for payment, training, or free food, you can get students to apply to be content ambassadors for the university. With general content guidelines in place, you pass the baton to the students themselves who can collaborate as a group and gain valuable experience in content creation. The result for your institution: regular, student created content all about university life!
And of course, remember to keep creating content yourself too! A strong social media presence is key to encouraging your audience to engage with your brand and get excited to be involved in the community.
For more info on how universities can utilise social media for their brand, and encourage others to get involved, contact our Head of Knowledge & Learning, Dr Hilary Young at: firstname.lastname@example.org