Who's listening to your student voice?
For the majority of its' life, marketing has been a monologue. A one way message from brand to consumer, with no opportunity for the consumer to answer back. TV, radio, web banner, even YouTube ads are all a method for the brand to talk and the consumer to patiently watch and listen.
Influencer marketing has changed that slightly by allowing consumers to have the tools and platform to respond, but the bigger the influencer, the less chance of the consumer's message cutting through the crowd and being heard. Studies have shown there's also the inverse correlation of follower connection (and trust) and follower size in influencer marketing: ie the bigger the influencer's following, the less connection their following has towards them.
To really make an impact, work with micro-influencers: those with a follower rate of around 30k or less. These are people who are experts in their chosen subjects, be that around a product, talent or their own lives.
They have a relatively small, but connected and highly engaged audience; if a consumer leaves a comment or asks a question here, they get a response.
If a micro-influencer associates themselves with a product or brand, it's because they are highly knowledgeable about it and are open to comments and questions around it. They create a dialogue between consumer and brand and it in turn increase the consumers' trust around it.
"It's the difference between the brand being a chapter of an influencer's story and being the story itself."
And for universities, these micro-influencer brand ambassadors are easy to find. They're already on campus.
Most students have an online voice, with an engaged following. They share the same spaces with current and potential students and are experts at answering questions and commenting on the student experience at university as they live and breathe it every single day. Try searching for your university on YouTube for a glimpse at the student produced content that is starting conversations online.
Since 2008, we've helped universities recognise the importance of this student voice in their communication by having students at the centre of everything we produce. Recently we've taken the innovative step of giving students the tools and training to tell their own story of their connection with their university, running vlog workshops at clients like Northumbria University, the University of Derby and the University of Exeter:
The result is engaging, honest, authentic endorsements of the university they're associated with. And in the University of Exeter's case 40,0000 video views and counting and the #1 search result on YouTube for 'Exeter Accommodation'
Your students have the potential to be your biggest brand ambassadors. They are knowledgeable, articulate and have grown up expecting marketing to be a conversation, not a monologue. So what can you do to work with the student voice on campus? What are they saying about your brand and how can you join the conversation?