In this five-minute read, we offer tips on how you can harness technology to ensure social distancing measures don't come between you and your student ambassadors or dampen their spirits this semester.
Student ambassadors can be invaluable in humanizing your university. They can provide accurate, relevant, and trusted information at key points for prospective students assessing which university to go to, and supporting new students as they settle into their first few months at your institution.
Student ambassadors arguably shouldering more responsibility than ever amid the ongoing pandemic.
So this week, we've compiled our team's insights into how to use technology to ensure that the happiness, health, and positivity of your student ambassadors continue unabated, even when regular face-to-face meetings might not be an option.
#1 Keep the ambassador community connected
A huge part of being a student ambassador is making connections with your fellow ambassadors and socializing together to build strong friendships. But with many institutions having to enforce social distancing measures, the opportunities for building relationships have become more restricted. However, there are a number of technical solutions you can use to support your students in communicating with each other.
Organizing a dedicated Whats-App or Slack group, arranging a weekly or by-weekly social check-in via video conference, or setting up a peer-to-peer support email account are all ways to encourage connection. And, whilst it's important to encourage adherence to rules for social interactions, having the ambassadors set up these methods of communication will ensure they feel free to chat openly and honestly amongst themselves, without being overly ‘managed' by university marketing teams.
#2 Reach out directly to check-in
As well as ensuring a sense of community amongst student ambassadors, making time to check-in with them on a one-to-one basis is vital for developing a trusted and supportive relationship. Building trust takes time but regularly scheduled meetings are a great way to show consistent support and will give your ambassadors the chance to discuss any issues as they arise.
Whilst social-distancing measures are in place, it's important to ensure you have other options for safe interaction - virtual meetings via video calls are a popular alternative and may prove easier to schedule or even a preferred option for some students who find it more difficult to open up in traditional face-to-face catch-ups.
#3 Rally ambassadors around a shared cause
Hearing the thoughts and experiences of current students is essential for the success of any student ambassador program and, in some cases, the perspective that students provide is more convincing than any campaign you can develop.
Setting up a shared platform, such as Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, or Slack, where ambassadors can log any questions, concerns, or suggestions they have, is a great way for you to ensure feedback from you and the ambassador group happens in real-time.
An open platform for idea-sharing can help you identify great new campaigns and unite ambassador teams in implementing shared passion projects, rallying around a meaningful cause, or striving to reach an important goal.
Knowing that they are able to put forward ideas that will be considered, responded to quickly, and even acted upon can give students a sense of control and make all the difference for maintaining motivation and momentum.
#4 Review what's working
Setting goals and reviewing metrics with your ambassadors will not only help you keep track of progress but will also help your ambassadors feel that the work they are doing is meaningful, important, and worthwhile. Universities should find the time to review the metrics from ambassador activity, how many engagement moments have they had each week? What are the patterns in terms of times of the day? Where do inquiries come from geographically and in terms of online sources (social, website course pages, following a campus tour booking, etc)? What are the correlations between an ambassador inquiry and eventual applications?
Many of the leading student ambassador software offerings, including UniBuddy and The Access Platform, can help with this ongoing reporting and analysis challenge, and you could build this into your overall analytics using other tools such as Google Analytics too.
From this universities can optimize the way they use student ambassadors to build connections with prospective students and to ensure their availability is well matched to the peak times in the calendar and days of the week when the most inquiries come in.
Another good idea is to review the hand-off points and ensure they're working well. You could identify all the interactions that lead to online student ambassador chat, and the options for prospects to continue building a relationship with the institution following an initial conversation or LiveChat with a student ambassador. You could use an online collaborative tool such as Miro to document the refine all the incoming and outgoing handoffs.
#5 Showcase ambassador success
Having their achievements showcased for others to see is a great way to foster a sense of accomplishment and pride amongst your ambassadors, both on a team and individual level.
Whether your ambassador group has helped smash targets for a diverse student intake or a single ambassador has gone above and beyond to support those settling into their first year of study, there are multiple ways to share and showcase their great work and use this to highlight the university experience for others.
Including ambassador updates in your blog content, YouTube videos and other social channel activity are just some of the ways to highlight successes - all of which can be embedded in your website to make them even more visible to prospective and existing students.
#6 Make time for fun and reward student ambassadors
When students and ambassadors are working hard on their studies, a little bit of light relief can go a long way - and whilst it may be difficult for them to connect in person during the pandemic, there are a number of ways technology can help bridge the gap.
If possible, consider setting aside a budget for recreational activities that ambassadors can engage in with prospective and current students. There are now a number of companies that have set up virtual experiences, cook-a-long events, and online group gaming sessions that can help bring people together in a more relaxed way. Among Us is one online collaboration game that has proven popular with teams over the last few months and can be played online or over local WiFi with 4-10 players, for instance. The game sees players attempting to prep a spaceship for departure, whilst being sabotaged by a murderous teammate. Crewmates can win by completing all tasks or discovering and voting the impostor off the ship.
All of these strategies will help give your ambassadors the support they need and let them know you are behind them every step of the way.
Has your institution increased it's student ambassador activity during the pandemic? We'd love to hear.