We all wield the power to showcase our daily life. Most of us possess high-quality cameras that capture professional imagery and crystal-clear videos. Access to quality imagery and connection has bestowed on us, the faithfully connected subjects of 2023, a new dimension of sharing content that we only dreamed possible a decade ago.
Borne of this new pixel perfection is a unique cohort of consumers who wield stupendous power. Goodbye, airbrushed celebrities endorsed by big brands. No, we are talking about you, the one reading this, and me, the one writing this.
Think you have never personally delved into user-generated content? You probably have. Not only reserved for Youtubers, dancers on TikTok, and influencers with a massive following - no, if you have tried a product and left a review, you are contributing to the rising world of UGC. Is it useful? And how does this translate into the world of education marketing? Strike the right balance between strategy and UGC, and you can harness the cost-effective power of social media.
Power of the people.
Ever read a blog post on something you wanted to buy? Same. From trusty running shoes and the latest cosmetics, I don’t think I buy anything without researching my purchase, especially items that break the bank. How do I choose a new running shoe? Research. Youtube videos, blog posts, and even a full review on the purchasing site armed with tiny stars and user-insight - purchasing with peace of mind for me!
While most generations have plugged into the benefits of UGC, Gen Z has mined the benefits early in their life. No reviews? No thanks. This financially savvy generation was born with it. And the big spenders (millennials, we are looking at you) have wised up a little. Trustworthy and relatable user-generated content has finally given us the true freedom of choice.
UGC is authentic.
We are slowly meandering from influencers who are paid $1.835 million per post (what recently shunned Kylie Jenner can rack up per paid ad) and exchanging them for free and honest reviews. We are listening to people we follow for authentic and relatable content, with no indication of them having earned money from a post in their life.
We are reading testimonials on products from people who live down the road from us, from people we may have met, and yes, even people we silently stalk who we only know from Instagram.
Using UGC for education – and the greater good.
We spend hours on the internet every single day. If you are looking for prospective students, you have already found them, leaving them on the social media app you probably just jumped off to read this blog. But how do you reach them, and why would you choose UGC?
In education, UGC is marketer-approved – creating authentic content on which prospects can rely. Social platforms encourage users to share their experiences and opinions, with education companies fostering a sense of community by creating a two-way dialogue with their audience, using this new type of marketing to forge stronger relationships with your audience.
While creating a strategic plan with a marketing team to help prospects down the funnel is crucial, UGC can help you build credibility. While creating an online brand tone is paramount to sign-up success, we know potential students value the opinions of their peers.
Balance your marketing strategy with ethics and tap into UGC, offering a fresh approach with a more human touch. Showcasing the benefits of your offering online sans user-generated content can get repetitive and boring. The balance? Enhance your content with user-generated content to engage followers and pave the journey for them, step by marketing step.
We are all human - when students tell their followers how the experience affected their life, how studying opened doors for them, and how their studies impacted their goals and aspirations, prospects will sit up and listen. No amount of marketing can replace that.
Have you ever heard of de-influencing?
Don't worry if this is the first time you have heard of it - de-influencing is relatively new. The term has cropped up within the last month. Although it sounds like cancel culture, we see it as a selfless act some have adopted to help followers make informed decisions. Basically, influencers are telling people what NOT to buy on social apps. We believe Gen Z will popularize this too – after all, this honest, authentic engagement aligns with Gen Z's financial reality.
What is it? Influencers are using social media platforms to discuss products marketed by other influencers (it’s confusing, isn’t it?) and tell us why some items are unnecessary. Many of these de-influencers have gained followers from a place of previous overconsumption, and plan to use this movement to discourage excessive spending.
Is this significant in education? We hope so, yes. With the current economic climate, we hope this illuminates the necessity of spending money on assets, not things. What better investment than using your money to secure a solid foundation in your education and career?
Watch this space. The younger generations are paving a new world.
What we think
While user-generated content seems to be utilized by all generations, we have Gen Z to thank for its prolific rise. Whether prospects visit your site and have access to student testimonials or they open TikTok to see a student giving their honest opinion about their studies in a video, UGC is here to stay, and striking the right balance is essential. We aim to combine a strategic approach to your marketing funnel with new content from honest reviews and testimonials.
UGC is an engaging, relatable, and authentic way to traverse the benefits of the educational institution. Hearing from people like you is a fresh approach to the pressure one feels when committing to their education – financially and time-wise.
Feature user-generated content on websites and social media platforms and you harness the power of authenticity and credibility. UGC is the new word of mouth, but the reach is significant. Focus on your vision of empowering through education by letting UGC have its moment. Let your students inspire by sharing how choosing education changed their life.