Back to uni with Browzer

Jordan Meates, Accommodation Officer at Sheffield Hallam Uni discusses how a specialist platform, Browzer, enables effective engagement with students

It’s that time of year again! September has arrived (where has 2018 gone?!) and we prepare to welcome students back to our campuses, accommodations and cities alike. For many new students this time of year, and specifically the prospect of going to university, is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, yet challenging periods in their lives to date. This is often compounded by the usual apprehension that many will experience as move-in weekend draws ever closer – have I done everything I need to? What do I need to take with me? Will I get on with my flatmates? Where do I go to get support? And yes, the classic: where’s the best place to have fun?

It is, therefore, key that universities and accommodation providers deliver this information to students in the most accessible way and manage this wealth of information in bite-sized chunks. The old adage remains – how do we reach and communicate with our students most effectively? Research on the current ‘Generation Z’ indicates a preference to utilise technology and social media to connect, communicate and explore. With numerous social media platforms available there is the temptation to utilise them all individually, an approach that rarely yields results for the time and resource invested. Wouldn’t it be great if one platform was able to communicate messages across multiple platforms in an engaging yet effective manner?  It is here where we introduce Browzer.

SHU Browzer (browzer.co.uk) is a student-centred communications platform, produced by Campuslife, originally introduced by Facilities Directorate at Sheffield Hallam University in 2014. This commercial tool helps raise awareness of the services, products and facilities the directorate and wider university offers.

Since its inception, Browzer has quickly moved focus to encompass all elements of the student experience through tailored national and local content, which is engaging and most importantly interesting! Information and advice is uploaded to Browzer in the form of fun stories (‘Freshers Week: Myths and Legends’ is always a student favourite!), quizzes, hacks, student vlogs/blogs, complete with all manner of hilarious GIFs, viral memes and good old-fashioned images.

“Ultimately, we have found that Browzer has enabled us to streamline our entire communications strategy from welcome through to departure.”

SHU Browzer content is informal, relaxed, and relatable to a student audience. SHU have found that producing content in this manner enables us to give a much higher degree of credence to topics of importance that may otherwise be ignored, or even disregarded altogether via standardised communication methods – email, anyone?!

One topic that we cover frequently is student wellbeing, especially with regards to mental health, an issue that has recently received national recognition as a growing issue with the sector. Strategically targeted messages and articles posted on Browzer are shared at regular periods throughout the academic year such as intake and exams showcasing the signs of mental illness, activities on offer around campus that might help, and signposting students to the local and national support services available.

All content uploaded to SHU Browzer is then shared across various social media platforms, including our departmental- and hall-specific Facebook pages. This enables SHU to reach a much wider audience, whilst gaining a greater degree of interaction on key issues pertinent to the student experience.

Ultimately, we have found that Browzer has enabled us to streamline our entire communications strategy from welcome through to departure. It allows us to target students at predetermined periods throughout the academic year with key messages that are relevant, effective and in a fashion that resonates with the student audience.

SHU have been recognised by the HE sector for their effective student engagement. Since their inception in August 2017 they’ve had over 80,000 users who have viewed over 401,200 pages!

Campus Life is a marketing and communications agency, focusing specifically in the HE sector. Working with over 85 Universities they support Universities to engage effectively with the student audience. For more information about Campus Life and Browser visit campuslife.co.uk