To stay competitive, institutions need to meaningfully stand out from other education options. One of the best ways to do this is to leverage user-generated content — commonly referred to as UGC. This content, created by your users (including current students, alumni, faculty, and staff), can include everything from images and videos to blogs and podcasts to testimonials and beyond.
Besides providing an authentic view of what it’s like to live and learn at your institution, UGC also helps you excite and engage a broader audience, highlight your institution’s diversity, and produce truly unique content (that’s un-copyable by your competition).
And by putting UGC directly into your virtual and self-guided tours, you can share this meaningful content with prospective students when and where it really counts.
In fact, a recent Student Voice survey run by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse found that undergraduate students want UGC in tours but are often let down. Forty-three percent said virtual tours should include messages from enrolled students yet only 22 percent said they were included in a virtual tour they took part in. Similarly, the same study found that 33 percent of undergraduate students want to see messages from faculty in virtual tours, but only 23 percent said they saw that included in a virtual tour they took part in.
While gathering UGC and leveraging it in tours is easier than you might think (especially if you have the Campus Visit Experience from StudentBridge), it can be hard to feel certain where to start or if the methods you’re using are actually resulting in high-quality content that inspires applications and enrollment.
That’s why we’ve put together three tips to help you gather effective UGC for your tours and start boosting the impact of your visit experiences.
Always get permission from the original creator to use their photo, image, or other content in your tours. If you’re holding a contest or have a clear way for students and others to submit UGC, this step can be easily incorporated into that process.
Once you have their permission to use their content, make sure you credit them. In tours, it’s super helpful for prospective students to see a student’s name, class, and major (where relevant). If you’re leveraging the UGC on your social media channels as well, it’s recommended to tag them in the post and be clear about if you’re crediting the image/video, caption, or both.
Kyle Freelander (she/her/hers) is a passionate writer, former educator, and lifelong learner. She has taught English literature and writing courses in higher education, writing workshops in K-12 schools, and English and ESOL courses as a private tutor for students pre-K and up. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a BA in English (minor in Linguistics) from the University of Mary Washington. She currently serves as the Head of Content at StudentBridge Education.