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The secret to authentic and impactful tours: UGC. Here’s why.

StudentBridge Staff May, 12, 2022

Discover the value behind user-generated content in tours and how to tap into it.

What comes to mind when you think of user-generated content (UGC)? 

Selfies shared to social media? A phone recording of a local event? Reviews left by recent diners of an Italian restaurant? If so, you’d be right — all of these qualify. 

But what is UGC and why should higher education institutions prioritize it? 

Simply put, UGC is content created by the individuals who are using a service or product (such as a customer) or engaging in an experience. And according to the latest research, more and more brands across industries are leveraging this content to 1. Meet customer expectations and increase engagement and 2. Save time and money.

Let’s start with UGC’s impact on expectations and engagement

Recent research shows 56 percent of consumers say UGC photos and videos are the content they most want to see from brands. Further, 79 percent of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, yet only 13% said branded content is impactful. While these statistics are broader than just colleges and universities, UGC can add tremendous value to your institution’s recruitment and marketing strategies — especially when it comes to campus tours.

Prospective students want to hear about current students’ experiences, and your tours are a critical opportunity to bring your institution’s community to life. In fact, the latest Student Voice survey findings from Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse show 43 percent of participating undergraduates feel virtual campus tours should include messages from enrolled students, yet only 22 percent said they took a tour that included those type of messages. Additionally, 33 percent of participants said virtual tours should include messages from faculty, yet only 23 percent took a tour that included them. 

But why do students want UGC in tours? First off, it builds trust: 84% of Gen Z are more likely to trust a company if it uses actual customers in its ads. Secondly, UGC meets an increased demand for authentic content, and nearly 60 percent of consumers agree that content created by other consumers is the most authentic type.

By adding UGC to your campus tours, you can also share more student perspectives and better illustrate your institution's diversity. This is particularly important to Gen Z — the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse generation — with 76 percent reporting that diversity and inclusion is an important topic for brands to address. In this way, UGC plays a key role in the college decision-making process, showcasing your institution’s diversity, building a sense of community early on, and helping students choose the right college for them. 

UGC also helps save your team time and money.

Many institutions are contending with limited staff, overwhelmed teams, and strapped budgets. Leveraging student content and other UGC can help lighten the content creation lift for internal teams — saving your team time and money. Some estimates even place the cost savings in the range of $70,000 or the cost of a dedicated content producer in the local area.

This affordable and authentic content support is especially valuable for virtual and self-guided campus tours where institutions need a wide variety of multimedia content to showcase their campuses, programs, and other areas of interest. 

Plus, the originality of UGC can ensure unique and memorable content other institutions can’t replicate. Talk about standing out!

So where do you start?

If you’re ready to reap the benefits of leveraging UGC as part of your institution’s marketing strategy, including as part of your campus tours, StudentBridge can help. Our Campus Visit Experience makes it easier than ever to amplify current student voices across virtual and self-guided tours and ensure impactful visits — for anyone, anytime, from anywhere.

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Take the first step in leveling up your tours with user-generated content by signing up for a free, no-obligation demo.

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