The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode · 3 weeks ago

Tribe, Community, Belonging, Trust: Leveraging Peer-to-Peer Connection


Students don’t actually want technology to replace all human connection. What prospects do want is one-to-one relationships with student ambassadors who will tell them what the institution is really like and help create a sense of belonging even before admission. 

In this episode, we interview Diego Fanara , Cofounder & CEO at Unibuddy , about a platform to facilitate peer-to-peer connections that promote belonging. 

Join us as we discuss:

- The idea of affinity groups and student tribes

- The successful utilization of peer-to-peer platforms

- How the student ambassador can replace a campus tour

- What role admissions and technology should play in human-to-human connection 

Interested in a demo of Unibuddy? 

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts , Spotify , or your preferred podcast platform.  

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Higher Ed Marketer in your favorite podcast player.

Because, today it's not Tang more abouttag lines or police marketing materials and impressions. It's about humanconnections and so peer to peer will become the platform where this canhappen. You are listening to the Higher EdMarketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in highereducation. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to studentrecruitment, donut relations, marketing, trans new technologies and so much more.If you are looking for conversation centered around where the industry isgoing, this podcast is for you, let's get into the show, welcome to the high red market podcast.My name is troy singer and each week with the help of Bark Kaylor, we try tobring to the higher red community marketers that we admire or ideas thatwe think would be helpful to the higher red community. Today, we're going totalk about peer to peer platforms with Diego Fanara. He is the CO founder andCEO of Una Buddy, which is a company that is gaining momentum here in thestates. Yeah Troy it's going to be a great conversation. I really like Diegohe's got. Some he's got some first hand, knowledge and I think that his story,being an international student he's originally from help he'll go into thisoriginally from France and and then grew up in Switzerland, but wanted toattend a UK or US school and kind of coming in as an international student.The idea of wanting to connect with his affinity group, even in the admissionsprocess in the enrollment process, and I don't think, the Egos alone, becauseobviously the platform that he has helped found and built, and it's youknow one of many that are out there, but you now buddy allows schools to beable to engage and provide a structure and scalable experience for peer topeer networking so that you know a student who's coming in can connectwith other students that are similar to them, whether they're from the samestate, whether they're studying the same program, whether maybe they're aninternational student. We always talk about that in higher in marketing. Isthat you know once we get somebody to apply how in the funnel can we makesure that they get connected to the right group? Sometimes that happens onthe campus tour. Sometimes that happens with you know. Just student ambassadorscan ca connections, but these pure to peer platforms, have emerged thatreally provide structure and scalability that allows the US asmarketers, to be able to manage that and to kind of you know intentionally,do that, so that we can increase the yields throughout the funnel. AlthoughDiego does represent a specific company, I believe he does a great job ofdescribing the advantages of the type of platform that they represent overall.So I think, there's a lot to glean from this and without further ado, let'sbring in Diego.

We are honored to welcome Diego Fanarato the show he is the CO founder and CEO of Una Buddy, and he is alsotalking to us from another continent. Welcome to the show Diego Hi try it'sgreat to be here. Thank you. If you would for our listeners, if you couldtell us a little bit about you, your company and your role, s CEO of Uni Buddy sure, soI'm as you say, from another continent right now, I'm based in London. I wasactually born in France than group in Switzerland and as an internationalstudents dreamed of studying finance in the UK or in the US, and that's how theidea of unibody and peer to peer emerged. While I was going to thistransition of looking for universities and being unsure of how to do this, andso the concept of unibody is powering community connecting prospectivestudents with current students to share a tentin information so thatprospective students can have the right information and authentic insight toknow how it's like to be in the university, and so unibody sellssoftware to admission offices so that they can leverage the power ofcommunity to increase their yield. While doing this connection happen,that's great. Thank you. Dear Go, I've been following in a body for severalmonths now and I've been impressed. I know that you're developing quite apresence here in the US, with with several schools and I'll, justencourage the audience if they want to learn more about that they can go tothe uni, buy website and see that. But I think today we want to really kind offocus on. You know this idea of allowing perspective students kind of aglimpse into you now into the student life and to what what you know whatevery day life is like, and you know schools have tried to do that over theyears with blogs and with even with some of their social media accounts,but I think there's something about the idea and the advantage of theseaffinity groups in higher education enrollment. You know kind of kind ofwith the idea of being able to identify the perspective student and theiraffinity and then be able to match them up with. I guess what you would callstudent ambassadors from the university so tell us a little bit about that. Imean, I think, a lot of times it's kind of like the idea of connecting studentswith their tribe that they are. You know, naturally, a part of yes thatthat's so true and that come back to the purpose of what drove into thisit's the importance of community and tribe. We believe that studentsconsider an institution because of their course because of their locationor a lot of parameters, but they convert for the community and they stayat the institution because they feel that they belong, and so what they needis to be able to see what the community is like to meet peers and appearsomeone of the same age background or...

...ability as another person. It could besomeone who shares experiences and similarities with yourself and inhigher education. This is an incredibly powerful notion because, all in all, itoffers a more level playing field and uses the power for student diversity toconnect people so having those trusted voice for students who of who they can.I simulate themselves. This is where you can rise above the nose to meetsomeone who currently experiencing this life and and aspires for themselves,and that's when that connection happened. It only students to haveclarity, confidence to make their lip and make the right decisions. I thinkthat's great. It reminds me of the classic statement that I hear from fromin Roman officers and admissions professionals. Is that boy? If we canget them on campus for that campus visit, we can usually I mean statisticsshow like eighty. Ninety percent of students who do a campus visit willmatriculate and I think what what's fascinated to me is that you've createda platform that kind of takes a lot of the aspects that happen in that campusvisit, which our people kind of recognizing and identifying that I canfit in here. I can see my tribe, maybe they're, engaging with tribes. I know alot of schools like to kind of have a kind of immersive campus visit wherethey may maybe spend the night in a dorm with some student hosts. Well,that's a chance again to do that peer to peer connection- and I think, what'sfascinating to me- is that you're kind of taking some of those aspects that wewould find traditionally in a campus visit, and especially in light of Ovidin light of maybe international students or even students who are, youknow not within a consentent IC, real, close location, you're. Taking thispeer to peer platform and really turning that into an advantage for theschools to really start creating some of the same emotive connections thatthey have on those traditional campus visits is that is that kind of what youthink? Yes, I mean. Definitely this is where we're trying to use digital andtechnology to make what universities were already doing, but at scale andnot that scaling a way so that we just allowed them to spend less time. And sowe just use technology to replace all human connection. It's actually toscale one to one intimacy and that's whatstudents? Well, students don't want scale and that's why thousands of prospective students emailthe admission team, because they prefer this intimate of a one in conversation,either by email or by coming on campus and so student to student marketing asthe role of allowing effectively scalingintimacy of those campers visit for students that are not able to join thecampus because they live far away or out of first dates or internationally,and so, when we think of building...

...unibody softwares either. If it's arepeer to peer chat or unit body events platform that we have it's always withthe mind of how can we scale intimacy and the best way to deliver? This is toinvite students to be marketers themselves and be able to position theinstitution. I love that idea as the student be marketers, I mean so manytimes. I think that even thirty forty years ago, when I was in college, Iremember being working in the admissions office as a student, I wouldgo on the camp teams or I would be there, for you, know student visits andI was you know, kind of a student ambassador, but I think this takes itto a different level, because you know I was I was there, but I was, I think,what your software's allowing them to do is to build those relationships in adynamic way that fits today's world and the student ambassadors really becomemore of the true ambassadors, where they're actually, rather than justgiving a tour they're. Actually, you know speaking on behalf of theuniversity, and I think that, if I'm correct, you know your platform andprobably others like yours, create systems that allow the students to beable to have the freedom to have those conversations, but within the contextof having some checks and balances in there as well. That is that is so trueand a conversation on appear to pour platform like Ni body is like chattingwith your future and with someone that you can. You can trust, and so that'swhere you feel the freedom to ask anything in a safe space that reallywill shape your decision, and I think that when by accepting that were nolonger in control of the D of the student decision making journey, weopen ourselves to the diversity of student to student conversation at theend of the day when people feel that they can hear from others likethemselves. That's where trust and marriage and trust is what greatcommunities are built on. That's great. I love that, and it really sounds to melike you're, empowering the students, the perspective students to make theright decisions, but you're also empowering those student ambassadors toreally buy in more to the school themselves, and I think that's going toreally lead to a better relationship as an alumni and as a donor, and thingslike that. So that's that's great. I think that's been a that's. That's awonderful, wonderful way to kind of take advantage of those affinity.Groups. Troy would love to hear some specific examples. You the concept,sound wonderful, but to help the listeners understand by offering somethings that have happened that were winds for enrollment teams, utilizingMuni Body. Yes, so it's a great question Troy and what we're alwaysasking institutions is impact on the the value proposition of why they'rebuying anybody and why they're buying anybody in the first place is toincrease and Wollman yield and also the summer melt. You know that drop outbefore involvement and, of course this is where the power of tribes communityappear to peer comes in where we allow... prospective students to build thatsense of belonging and this affinity with the institution and so we've seenin our case, CAS study with some institutions like San Jont University,USC that've, seen their the rise of yield through unibody from fifteenpercent to twenty seven percent or or a deposit rate, or sixty six percentincrease of involvement yield. It's been awesome to see those case stagesacross so many institutions, but it's also definitely on the number. But then,when you talk to the students, that's where we also go back to the user andsee how meaningful this conversation has been and what we love seeing iswhen our prospective students then become themselves to ambassadors whenthey joined institutions, because they took so much pride in hearing about thestudent to student that then, when they enroll at the university they come andlike he can. I also become a student bastards. I want to give back an. Ithink that's what part you are mentioning that then we can follow thistill the alumni and feeling really part of the institution community for LifeYeah. I think that's great. I really love the fact that I'm guessing I meanyou've, given some great great statistics there, with kind of fifteento twenty seven percent of the yield and I'm sure, there's different placesin the funnel. Whether it's you know, like you said from you know,accepted to deposit what those and being able to have the studentambassador program and the kind of the peer to peer conversations at thatpoint and then, even from from that deposit to the the enrollment and thematriculation and there's, I think it's so powerful for that. But I have toprobably even believe- and you might have some case studies for this- thatthose students who participated through a tool like this probably are going tobe better retention students because they feel a part of the community. Imean, I know one of the challenges. A lot of a lot of schools have is thatyou know you have that you know they have a summer melt already, but thenyou have kind of that melt from first semester to second semester, where alot of students never really got plugged in. They never really gotconnected in that tribe, and so they end up. You know, leaving and retentionrates go down, and so I have to believe that appear to per network like this,even at the beginning, in the prospective student stage and in theenrolment stage really impact student life later on, with with retention wasthat is that correct, yeah, definitely and and that's related to the UNIbody's mission, which is to empower every student to make the rightdecisions through their higher education journey, and so it's about ajourney and wherever you catch the student journey with seen yourcommunity to belong, that's where you will have more likely it for them tostay the fore, involvement, post involvement. They just feel this extrairrational affinity with your with the institutions and and be part of this, Diego for an Enrolan executive thatthis sounds interesting to, however,...

...may be not knowing if this would beapplicable to them. What is a quick hit or may be a thought that you would givethem in order for them to think about it differently or become moreinterested enough to look into peer to peer platforms thattried. So it's a good question. So if they believe that community can changeand impact the way students make decisions and how we can shape theirconfidence in enjoining their institutions, then I see that peer topeer becomes the platform for any student admission officers or marketer,who are like to say o the community architect and be compared to thedirector of the play, which means that they would set the stage theenvironment and give their student community the platform, which means thetool and training with resources. So they can talk to prospective students,and then that means they can get out of the way, because today it's not anymore about tag, lines or police marketing materials and impressions.It's about human connections and so peer to peer will become the platformwhere this can happen and they can architect this community to shape thethe student belonging. I love that and I love the fact that you're talkingabout it is a platform because it's interesting, I mean post pandemic. NowI remember we had started using zoom in our business, maybe four or five yearsago- and you know it was a platform that we used. It was something that washelpful for us, because we have kind of you know. Different people arounddifferent locations were not we're, not centralized. It's a virtual agency, butduring zoom the during a pandemic, zoom became a whole different thing. Itbecame kind of a ubiquitous tool that was just part of everyday life. I mean,I might have a you know, either Microsoft Word or Google docks that Iuse every day now, I'm using zoom every day in the same way. It's just it'sjust part of my entire know, tool set and I kind of believethat platforms like Una buddy are going to be part of that entire tool set aswell. I mean you know we talk about you. Every admissions office has a nice CR,whether they're using slate or something like lead, squared or salesforce. You know, they've got those tools. They've got the tools of maletools. They've got you know, texting they've got all these different tools.I think that platforms like Una buddy are going to have to be one of thosetools going forward post pandemic, because I mean whether we like it ornot. There's been a shift in the way that traditional enrollment happens. Imean decrease in campus. Tours are going on. You know, test optional isgoing on as far as the way students are being able to be marketed to, and so Ithink that the importance of increasing that yield percentage is going to be socritical to admissions professionals and enrolment professionals. It's goingto be, you know, because a lot of...

...students are making decisions withoutever setting a foot on campus is that is that kind of what you think toDagoes, that kind of where you're going with it yeah that definitely- and Idefinitely see union budor all of the tools that you mentioned, not replacinganything but more as an e neighber, that's something that was alreadyexisting, and so today, two thirds of marketing happens in touch pointsoutside of our control. But even if we are not on the stage, because studentstalk to each other on those new tools were still very much part of theproduction, and so it's all about sharing our knowledge and help turnthose student ambassadors into powerful content creators. So the more powerfulthe community, the greater its ability to move its members to be long, and soit all comes down to an enablement rather than replacing anything and theonce. We see this way that that's how we can leverage a maximum benefits fromthose tools like a pear to peur platform and UNIBODY Diego. Weappreciate you bringing the information about peer to peer platforms andintroducing our constituency to them before we sign off. Would there be anyother points that you would like to make on behalf of the community thatyou represent? No, I look. I think that the market isadapted so well during this pandemic. Tive really adapted to a digital worldthat was unknown for a lot of people and I feel we're all going in the rightdirection at the right speed and so I'm very pleased to see how the market isgetting together themselves as a community to make it happen, so that wecan really impact students lives and, as leaders of this sector, we'resetting the stage we want our student communities to do what it does bestit'sshaping the decisions that sent young people on the pack to theirfuture, and so i'm really confident that will make it happen by leveragingeverything that we have around us. Thank you, diego. If someone would liketo reach you, what would be the best way for them to reach out to you, so my email is diego at union boycot,but, and he and the best well the wise to reach our team is to go on ourwebsite union body com, you and i but dody so yeah we're trying to buildbuddies all around the world to reach out and and announce all the deepestquestion that prospects might have, love it, and thank you very much foragain bringing the peer to peer platform idea,enabling us to get it out to our listeners bart. We, you have anycomments before we sign off this episode. Yeah. I really like a lot ofwhat diego talked about. I think that this peer to peer platform is such agreat idea and such a powerful way for...

...institutions to be able to reallyincrease and enhance the relationships and really increase and enhance. Youknow that that a lot of, what's already going on, i loved diego's point aboutthe fact that you know it's like a play and we might be the directors in theenrolment office. But at the end of the day, we're not the actors that are thatare actually doing the communication that the emotion that the dynamic tribebuilding, but i think, a tool like you, no body- allows allows that directionto take place. It provides a platform for that. It provides the means andtools to be able to manage those student ambassadors in a way that sthat's meaningful. It's a way that kind of keeps them in boundaries. You know.Certainly one way you could do peer to peer networking is just to say, heystudent ambassadors. At the end of the tour, you know give out your text, youknow your cell phone number to everybody on the tour and let them textyou. Well, that's certainly one way to do it, but a tool on a platform likeyou, no buddy actually allows you to scale it. It allows you to make it moreprofessional and allows you to kind of put those bumpers in place so that youknow you know what's going on, you can understand it and you can provide thatthat freedom for your ambassadors to encourage them to be themselves, butyou also have a little bit more direction to it, and so i really reallyappreciated that. So you know i think it's great. I would encourage everyoneto look into this these types of platforms, because i do think it'sgoing to be a big part of hiring market and going forward. I agree bard. I alsowould invite anyone who either has experience with peer to peer or hasdone research on it to share with us what your opinions or your experienceis. So thank you, barked and also thank you,diego and good luck to you and you na buddy. Thank you so much for having me.It was great. That brings us to the end of another episode of the high redmarket podcast, which is sponsored by care solutions and education, marketingand branding agency and by thing patented, a marketing execution,printing and mailing provider of higher ed solutions. On behalf of my co hostbart cayler, i'm troy singer, thank you for joining us. You've been listening to the higher edmarketer to ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the show inyour favorite podcast player. If you are listening with apple podcast, we'dlove for you to leave a quick rating of the show, simply tap the number ofstars you sink. The podcast deserves until next time e.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (36)