How to

How Toosday: Empowering students to become advocates

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

Today marks the launch of another new feature here on The Native, and we’re pretty excited. The new feature is a simple one; it’s a ‘how to’ article posted on a Tuesday, hence the name ‘How Toosday’. #sorrynotsorry. Anyway, we’re kicking it off with a gem from Aston University’s Social Media Advisor Jord Muckley, who is talking all about how to empower your students to become advocates for your institution.

Over to Jord!

There’s not a right or wrong way to empower students. Lots of brands have their own ways to connect to their target audiences and universities do the same with their current student body and to prospective students. Recruiting a group of students is the easy bit, but how do you empower them to do more?

It’s quite easy really – trust them and pay them.

1. What do you want to achieve?

Set out from the start what you want to achieve and make it relatable to both university strategic goals and your current students. No matter their frustrations (trust me, it happens!) they are incredibly proud to attend their university so you need to harness that pride and use it!

It has to work both ways – not just for one.

2. Find your champions

Making a decision about which university to choose at the age of 17 is a pretty big deal. Content that appeals to the emotional needs of students – offering them support and guidance – as well as real life student experiences can help them decide which university to go for.

Within your university you’ll have your own influencers, hidden vloggers with a huge audience and Instagrammers who are pretty nifty with a camera. Who can forget the BNOC’s (Big Names on Campus)!? Do some digging, find out who these people are and don’t be scared to ask them to get involved. We found some of our best vloggers here at Aston by doing just that – meet Halil:

3. No barriers

Universities can have a lot of red tape. Stakeholders you need to meet and boxes you need to tick. This can stifle the process of getting the content you want in front of your target audience.

It’s about finding the right balance. The authenticity of student content can be lost if it feels too corporate or forced. Work closely with your advocates, find out what makes them tick and learn what works best for them.

There are many universities that hand over control of their social media platforms to their current students, especially Instagram and Snapchat. There are some quick and easy ways you can get stories together that can provide a window in to campus life you can only dream of producing!

Don’t put roadblocks in the way, give them the freedom to create!

4. Create incentive

Speaking from experience, students want to get involved at every opportunity you can throw their way but if they are committing their time and energy to something then a slice of pizza just won’t cut it. (See what I did there?)

What are your advocates going to get out of creating content for you? Show them the benefits. Here at Aston, we don’t have courses that teach practical digital skills such as how to use a camera, video editing or creating content for specific platforms.

These are key skills that our advocates can take advantage of, when it suits them. Oh, and pay them. You MUST pay them.

Here’s are sample of a recruitment page with a job description.

So there’s my twopenneth. If you need to get buy in to do something like this or get people on side, take a look at what content brands are putting out there and don’t be afraid to experiment. After all, we’re in a learning industry.

You can follow Jord on Twitter and find him on LinkedIn. Want to write a piece for a future instalment of How Toosday? Get in touch!