The Student Room: Under the microscope

In July 2019 we reopened our account with The Student Room, to make our presence known on a platform largely used by students looking to make decisions about where to attend university.

What is The Student Room?

The Student Room (TSR) is an online forum aimed at students, both at university level and lower. Students use this platform in many different ways, but most of them are looking for advice and guidance.

Each forum contains hundreds to thousands of different threads. Anyone with an account can create or post on a thread, but users also post anonymously. Each forum is constructed with the same format.

Our University forum

Users can directly respond to posts made by others and can also quote them in their response. Users can also give ‘rep’ on posts, which is similar to ‘liking’ something. The ‘rep’ is weighted by the ‘reputation’ of the person giving the ‘rep’.

We receive around 4 ‘reps’ per month on average, and since our account was created in 2015, we’ve received between 200 and 400 total reputation points. If you’re curious you can find out more on this FAQ about ‘rep’.

So, what have we been doing on TSR?

By making ourselves available to these students, we can drive the conversation around the University. We become more than an institution to prospective students and make sure we’re catching any incorrect information.

Answering questions

The primary way that we’ve been interacting with students is by answering queries. While the amount varies, there’s usually several queries on our forum every day, with more beyond in the wider university-related chatter. They can be about anything, but we’ve found that accommodation is very much a hot topic, particularly which college is the best.

We also get asked about the application process, the student experience and once in a while we get mistaken for York St. John or York University in Canada.

Creating content

Alongside answering questions, I’ve started creating some original threads. One of these is a ‘Happy 2020 York!’ thread which I use to share our wellbeing content and other things such as cute animal pictures. I’m hoping that this helps to raise the spirits of the people looking at our forum and gives them a place to go if they need advice. There’s been a fairly positive response on this thread, with users ‘repping’ the posts – especially the ones featuring cute animals.

Our ‘Happy 2020 York!’ thread

I also created an applicant thread (for 2020 entry), which has had around 20,000 views and approximately 350 comments (as of 6 March). This has been a massive success and has provided a window for students to ask us questions and to talk to other applicants.

Beyond our forum, I make an effort to visit other forums as well, and try to find users having conversations about York who might have questions. This has hopefully increased traffic to our forum and might have even resulted in conversions.

A potential conversion conversation

Future plans

We’re going to keep experimenting with different types of content to see what level of engagement they get. For example, we’re considering introducing some student content for departments and having those students available to answer any questions that arise.

If this is successful on our forum, we may go on to share this content across TSR. We’re also looking at ways to introduce our ‘The Choice is York’ campaign in an authentic way. To sum up, we have lots of exciting content planned to expand our reach and hopefully, one day, no one will get lost on the way to the YSJ forum.

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