4 ways to create powerful student testimonials for your school

Date posted: August 15, 2012

Student testimonials should be at the top of your school’s content creation list. Information about the kind of students enrolled at your college, the type of career they pursue and how they think your school helped them on their path is essential for the “good fit” feeling that will turn prospects into enrolled students. Testimonials are all about story-telling, about sharing your students’ paths in a way that is both unique and general.  Here are 3 ways to tell your current and former students’ story:

1. Create compelling videos

  • Before shooting, draft a list of testimonials you would like to create. They should cater to the various categories of students attending your school: full-time students, working students, returning students, etc. Use the reviews written by your students to find common themes. You can also conduct a student poll about the services and programs that won them over when deciding which college to study at.
  • Determine the format of your testimonial videos: think about the feel of the video and the message you want viewers to take away. If necessary, draft a quick story board for the shooting team to follow. Depending on the purpose of the video, the featured stories should include :
    • Student anecdotes about why they chose your school
    • Student’s future goals post-graduation
    • How your school will help them reach this goal
    • What made your school stand out
    • What their life path was before becoming a student at your school
    • Show your school’s premises
  • Many students will look at your videos from their smart phones and long uploads could discourage some of them so make sure all videos last less than 1 minute.
  • Let the student talk freely. There is nothing worse than scripted testimonials.
  • Run the video with your marketing department to make sure it is consistent with the vision of the school.
  • Integrate these videos on strategic points of your school’s website: website homepage, program homepage, next to a Request Information form, etc.
  • Share these videos through social media.

2. Host Student Blogs

Student blogs are on-going, real-time testimonials about a student’s experience at your school. Because it stems from peers and not from marketing departments, information on these blogs is more authentic and therefore, interesting for prospects. We wrote about student blogs here.

3. Maintain a good social media presence

Your presence on social media platforms is a great indication of how your students feel about your school. A Facebook page with few shares and comments or a Twitter account with only a few followers will make it seem like your students do not care about their school. students’ engagement is a great testimonial in itself, so make sure you:

  • Pick the right platforms for your school. Tip: The most effective social media platforms for schools are usually the ones used by students. Question the relevance of platforms with little to no engagement.
  • Foster engagement through contests, picture tagging, quizzes, fun quotes, etc.
  •  Have a pool of great videos and pictures featuring your students doing what they regularly do at your school.

 4. Foster your school’s LinkedIn network

The quality of the network provided by your school upon graduation also says a lot about your school, its students’ attachment to it and its credibility on the labor market.

  • Make sure your website features an Alumni section that fully describes the depth of the network and activities.
  • Communicate (in videos!) about the link between your alumni and students: mentorship is a great asset when starting a career or switching careers.
  • Although Alumni are usually a separate entity from schools, make sure your Alumni are present and active on LinkedIn. Try to ensure that the groups are active, and do everything to help students publicize their profiles and advance their careers.

One last thing: just as it is important to create positive student-generated, it is crucial to monitor the unsolicited, negative testimonials. With most of your students on social media, it is paramount to react quickly to what is being said about your school across platforms. Great listening tools exist to do just that. React quickly to manage your reputation and limit any damage to your school’s brand. Take a look at Kaplan University and DeVry University to see great examples of student testimonials.

For more tips on creating great student testimonials, check out  Julie Wuthnow’s great article. We especially like her “Ask a student” button idea.