Would you believe it if we told you last week that over 135,000 people watched a 15-year-old from the UK’s smallest town, perform in his very first live appearance? Well, you better because that’s exactly what happened at this year’s Glastonbury on the Other Stage. Alex Mann quickly became an internet sensation after killing it on stage with Rapper Dave, who trusted the teenage fan with a mic, when randomly picked out of the audience. 

Before you go any further, make sure you watch the biggest Summer moment so far: 

The word-for-word perfect rap and warming exchange between artist and fan quickly snowballed into the highlight of the festival, with the performance watched on social media over 12 million times. 

Why are we telling you this we hear you ask? Because it just shows the kind of magic that can happen when you trust your audience to create content with you. 

The publicity around the duet has since exploded, with even the footballer, who shares his moniker with the track, Thiago Silva, thanking Alex and Dave for the performance. Dave, riding the wave of exposure, tweeted soon after: "Thiago Silva has recognised Thiago Silva and now I have decided to retire. My work here is done." The post saw a 1230% increase in average post engagement, once again showing that your own audience often has the key to unlocking new heights of brand reach. 

Leeds University Union’s Head of Marketing Louise Hallworth at Think Student Live shared the success of their student social media takeovers. Handing over the reigns of their online profiles allowed students to share their stories in their own way with their own voices. Student faces popped up all over LUU’s social media platforms, talking about issues that mattered to them, from mental health to period poverty. 

Recently, LUU and Leeds Community Project collaborated on a Facebook video produced by students for the ‘Leave Leeds Tidy’ campaign, reaching over 10 thousand people and fantastic CTR’s. The whole campaign was received incredibly well by the entire community because of its authentic nature and really resonated with Leed’s students. So much so, over 10 tonnes of unwanted items were donations by the students for the campaign. 

Louise goes on to say“we really do see an engagement increase when we hand over our channels to our students. We have a little sub-brand logo which says ‘student-produced’ so that our audience is really clear on who is producing the content.”

And it works. Their student-produced content has consistently claimed gold for the most engaged post for the last few months, making it clear that user-generated content is a strategy that they are going to continue.

There's no better way to make content resonate with your audience than actively involving students in the process. This approach not only helps develop authenticity and trust, but it also gives you content a fresh edge.

- Lindsay Toone, Creative Strategist

And there are so many other ways you can collaborate with your students. Not many universities have an authentic connection to (or the budgets to work with) big-time influencers, but your student body is full of micro-influencers. Students are natural content creators and storytellers with a smaller but usually very engaged following. Identify your most creative students or alumni (or prospective students), with an online following and let them take charge of a vlogging camera, and share their experience of your next open event in a unique and genuine way. 

They’ll share online, and the content will cut through in a way that advertising won’t and allow prospective students to see the real side of campus life. 

Here's one example of how universities can collaborate with influencers to create content that oozes authenticity and sparks conversation. With over 37,000 video views and 186 comments from fellow peers, Solent University and Unjaded Jade definitely hit the mark with their open day vlog. 

Are you brave enough to hand over the mic to your audience, and let them share (or rap) your message on their own terms? Do it right, and the authenticity and advocacy of fellow peers will connect to your audience in a way brand voices just cannot touch. 

If you would like any help from our student marketing specialists ahead of your next open event, get in touch.

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Article by

Eleana Davidson Native Author

Eleana Davidson

Content Manager