User generated content, or UCG. We promise it’s not just another buzzword! It’s likely that you’re already seeing, receiving or sharing UGC, because it’s simply a way to describe marketing content that is created by your existing community. User generated content is essentially any photos, videos, words or other media that is created and shared by your customers (or community). While this sort of content type may seem far removed from your ultimate goal of increasing online enrolments, it is a powerful way to increase long-term engagement with both existing and prospective parents.

Why is it so important?

UCG has become an integral part of digital marketing (particularly inbound marketing strategies) because it lets the user do the promotion for you.

Remember those personalised Coke bottles? Chances are, you didn't find out about them from an ad on TV  you found out about it from your mate sharing a photo of him holding a bottle with his name on it on Instagram. This is a prime example of user generated content creating some incredible results for a brand. Here's what it does.

It's a free source of content

Finding content to post on social media and use throughout digital marketing can be costly. Photographers, graphic designers and marketing staff can all be costly aspects of the content creation process, so utilising quality, creative content from your school community can be an excellent alternative. 

Your content creators will love it

People love having their creativity praised and shared, especially on social media! You’ll find that most of your school community will be more than happy to have their content shared, making your content not only more varied and creative, but also easier to source.

In no time at all, you’ll have a network of community members who are enthusiastic about sharing and having their content shared.

Your audience will love it

Seeing a positive piece of content about a business (or school) shared by a customer can essentially act as an endorsement or a testimonial. Since customers are always more likely to trust peer reviews than the information provided by a business itself, you can rest assured that your audience will love seeing content from other members of your school community.

You're encouraging sharing

Share content uploaded by members of your school community on a regular basis and you’ll find that it will begin to encourage others to do the same. If you use a school hashtag, it’s likely that this will also cause an increase in its use throughout the school community. Sharing promotes sharing!

How do you find user generated content? 

There's likely a bunch of user generated content out there  you just need to find it.

Check out your school hashtag

If you have a school hashtag, this is a great place to start. Type it into Instagram or Twitter and you'll be able to see any public posts that have been tagged with your hashtag. Keep in mind that content from private profiles will not show unless they have let you follow them! Additional tip: not every user will use the hashtag correctly, so make sure you check out similar/related hashtags, and always check with the user whether they're happy for you to re-post with a quick comment! If you want to get started with using hashtags on social media, check out this handy guide.

Here's an example of Trinity Grammar's hashtag on social media (#trinitygrammar):


Image of Trinity College

Check out your school location

Public profiles that check into your school's location on social media networks when they post will also show, even if they have not tagged your school or used your hashtag. Simply look up your school as a 'Place' and you'll be able to see content that has been checked in to that location.

Keep an eye on posts you've been tagged in.

You'll receive a notification on social media networks when users have tagged your school in their posts. Keep an eye on these as you're likely to be tagged in some great content that you can then ask to re-post!

Ask for it!

Not seeing enough user-generated content? Ask your audience to share their photos! You'll find that it's likely your community will be keen to get involved. Need an extra incentive? Turn it into a competition! Ask your community to submit their school photos and offer a prize or the best pics. 

Key takeaway

Don’t forget that your first port of call should be social media. Have a look at your Facebook check-ins, your Instagram ‘Place’ or location and your school hashtag across all of the networks. Make sure that you always ask whether you can use the content where possible, and credit the person who shared it. In no time at all, you’ll have a network of community members who are enthusiastic about sharing and having their content shared, and you’ll have a wealth of valuable content to use throughout your digital marketing efforts. Happy posting!

Published 17 September 2020