Does the 2023 social media plan for your university or college include the talent of student ambassadors? Well, it should! Your students probably know the interworking of your campus much better than you do. And, let’s be honest, they also keep up with the trends better. Having a handful of students to help curate the authentic brand, voice, and image of your institution is critical to your social media presence … and its success!
In this guide, we will take you through a few tips and strategies on hiring student ambassadors and how to keep them around.
How to Find Them
Focus on soft skills over hard skills. Many of the abilities a student ambassador requires can be taught. So having video editing skills may be nice but not a requirement. Having a student who is excited and has genuine enthusiasm about the school may be a better fit and generate better content. Make sure they are open to learning, have creativity, and can work independently.
Keep in mind that on social media, and really across your entire marketing strategy, students want to see people who look like them. Representation matters greatly, especially to Gen Z. Showcasing your school’s unique student body and emphasizing that diversity should be at the forefront of your social media presence.
Also, make sure you are inclusive of students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Not all your students or incoming students have access to the same equipment, so requiring a portfolio may limit some students from applying. Instead, if your budget allows, have a few pieces of equipment you can loan them. This levels the playing field and allows students to have the same opportunity when applying.
You also want students who are good storytellers. A good student ambassador is the kind of person who captures the attention of other students in a genuine way. So have your potential recruits tell you a story, and evaluate if it is linear, engaging, or surprising. More times than not this type of natural ability to relay a story will cross over into their content creation.
Another thing you should consider is what year they are in and how that will translate to the other populations on campus. A freshman will have a new perspective on the school, compared to a junior who may be seen as having all the knowledge and information. How long are your contracts? Are they only for a year? Or do you plan to follow a student’s entire journey? These are important to your story as a school and translate to how your audience may view them and connect.
Establishing trust is essential to setting your student ambassadors up for success!
Create a weekly meeting to check in with your students on the status of their projects and create a work schedule that aligns with the classes they are taking. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun learning opportunity for them, not another thing to stress out about.
Have impromptu conversations with your students, ask them about their lives and keep them up to date with information regarding the school. This will help establish a bond between you and your students. Because the students feel comfortable, they can sometimes be more willing to create out of the box ideas that pay off big time.
Have an open Zoom policy. It’s a hybrid world we all work in, and your students are no different. Make sure they know you are available to them whenever they need it.
Keep their responsibility actionable. Set clear expectations for their role and how you measure success when it comes to content efforts. If you work with a team of students, it can be beneficial to have weekly meetings to bring everyone together for an update on ongoing projects.
Instill Brand Perspective
For the success of your social media strategy, it is important for everyone to be on the same page. Share the overall goals of the department with the students and inform them on how the goals are measured.
The goals typically should stem from the overall campus strategy. Include your brand pillars in the messaging and content your team is producing. Be sure the brand perspective is being used as a jumping off point.
Have students assigned to the different messaging you are creating for targeted audiences. This includes student, parent, and alumni perspective. Create a roadmap on how your department communicates with these different groups and let the students use their own experiences to reach them.
If you are just getting started, here are some of our favorite tools your students can use.
Procreate: Procreate is an advanced painting app created for mobile devices. It is meant to work in harmony with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. It gives you the feeling of real-world drawing with the power of digital art.
Canva: Canva is an Australian graphic design platform that is used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and other visual content. This is really simple to use and meant to help people with little graphic design skills to create awesome graphics. They also have a free version which is great!
Adobe: Everyone knows Adobe with its suite of design tools including: Indesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. This may be something your school is already using, so take advantage of it.
OpenShot: OpenShot is free video editing software that works for Mac, Windows, or Linux. All video creators are welcome here. The software offers unlimited tracks you can incorporate for background videos, audio galore, and sick effects.
Unibuddy: Unibuddy actually highlights ideas for training ambassadors, from making sure they are empowered with the right knowledge, to giving them the skills to effectively use any digital tools they might encounter.
Empower Students to Do What They Do Best
Student Ambassadors and the content they generate showcase your institution’s culture, brand, and values in an authentic, meaningful way. The whole idea of using students and capturing their moments as real-life brand champions is finding the sparkle through the eye of the student.
Remember, your students are Gen Z natives; they are the generation who grew up with phones in their pockets. These kids know technology and the internet like the back of their hand! Learn to trust their natural instincts for trends and pop culture and allow them the creativity to branch out in their content creation. Encourage them to think independently and watch the magic unfold.
You hired your student ambassadors, established trust, taught them the brand perspective and equipped them with the tools to be successful. Now get out of their way and see your analytics flourish!
By Sierra Case, Digital Marketing Specialist, Capture Higher Ed