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Student ambassador chat checklist: 5 principles for engaging student-to-student conversations

What can student ambassador managers do to help their teams have better conversations?

The go-to responses are: integrate chat opportunities with marketing campaigns; keep an eye on student ambassador response times; have a clear point of contact for more challenging inquiries. But these approaches are still largely reactive and don’t support engaging conversation. In this blog, we will explore how your higher ed institution can better engage with prospective students, how students can connect on Unibuddy Chat, and top tips to build a student ambassador community.

5 Key principles for engaging student-to-student conversations

Based on our work with 450+ higher education partners, we’ve pulled together the enduring principles that help ambassadors have better, more memorable conversations.

1. Start with recruitment

The hidden key to an engaging ambassador chat is getting your recruitment process right. If asked, most of your students will have positive things to say about their education, but that doesn’t automatically make them right for the digital ambassador job.

When recruiting, be specific in your job ads.

University of Worcester wants students who aren’t only great advocates but know how to tell a story too. The university outlines the different types of ambassadors they are searching for and how to apply.

Bottom line: Paint a clear picture of the type of student you want to attract. Worcester’s example is just one way to do it; you may want to attract someone completely different, and that’s okay!

If you are just looking for someone to double down in ambassador chat and have great conversations, create job ads that highlight the importance of:

  • Customer service skills
  • Managing a brand’s social media account
  • Working independently
  • Research skills
  • Showing empathy

To create a balanced ambassador team that handles thousands of different inquiries, it’s best to take a nuanced approach to recruitment.

Who says you can’t have more than one digital ambassador job description?

Get the recruitment process right and the next four principles will fall into place.

2. Provide comprehensive training

Obvious, yes? But what are you covering?

Most universities will cover the basics: how to get online; expectations for response time; how to handle safeguarding issues. Less will cover:

  • How to supplement commonly asked questions with blog posts
  • Where to find key information
  • How to use digital tools and represent a brand online
  • How to have a memorable conversation

It’s dangerous to assume that because your student ambassadors consume content on TikTok and message on WhatsApp that they are digital media experts. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, 82% of people aged 12 and over have a social media presence (Statista, 2021), but only a tiny proportion have the experience of representing a brand or running their own digital business.

What is second nature to you is completely new territory for your ambassadors – give them the resources or show them how to handle themselves online.

How to handle common questions

Prepare your ambassadors for your three most common questions asked via online chat. For the best ambassador chats, provide a short breakdown of how to handle each one, for example:

“I’m an international student with ?”

Questions to ask: Can your students access this information via your website? Do they know where to look? Is there a special document your admissions team uses to provide guidance on this kind of question? Can you put this document in a secure location that can be accessed by students?

Your ambassadors may not be able to say if a student can be accepted, but they can certainly share if it’s worth applying. Plus, this will free you up to work on more complex inquiries.

For ambassadors, have a step-by-step process in place for each common question. It could look like this:

  • Get asked about entry requirements
  • Check the program page for details
  • If details are not listed, refer to the “special qualifications list”
  • If you cannot find the answer, refer the prospective student to the recruitment team

Prepare short processes like this so ambassadors can easily check them during their chats. The goal of your training should be to remove as much friction as possible, allowing for the best experience by resolving inquiries in one conversation.

3: Ensure you have the right incentives

Committing to answering student messages every day, even for the most enthusiastic ambassadors, can get challenging. When deadlines begin to bite and students are getting messages at unsociable hours, it’s important to have a range of incentives to encourage participation.

To address this, University of Glasgow provides ambassadors with a certificate of completion and an official entry into their Higher Education Record of Achievement (HERA). The university also shares how its ambassadors can promote the skills they gained during the program to secure their first grad job. How’s that for added value?

There are many other incentives to keep your ambassadors motivated, including:

Paying students per hour a week

Most ambassador chat platforms will offer the ability to track conversation time.

Scholarship criteria

As part of your recruitment efforts, you can cite that becoming a Unibuddy chat ambassador is a requirement for scholarship funding.


Prepare a weekly email or webpage shared with your ambassador team on who has had the most engaging conversations that week. Provide rewards for the top 3.

Complimentary tickets to events and venues

If you are planning on having your ambassadors share blog content about events in your city or on campus, give them VIP access to do so.

4. Build a community

In education marketing, prospects tend to join for the experience but stay for the community. It’s no different for your digital ambassadors.

In order to share best practices, help your ambassadors grow and get the most value from their program—you have to provide opportunities for them to connect.

The Global Ambassador program, headed up by Jordan Ball at Lakehead University in Canada, invites its best participants to be Unibuddy chat ambassadors and join their wider ambassador community.

“We call it our ‘campus family,’” says Jordan, “Having our ambassadors spend time together helps create a sense of belonging and improves the quality of our ambassador chat. It’s harder if you go it alone with no other feedback than the messages you receive, so I put a lot of effort into organizing regular catch-ups, socials, and activities that help our students feel part of something bigger. We want that sense of family to reach our prospective students and help them make the right decision.”

5. Go the extra mile

Like great customer service, the most memorable conversations had over ambassador chat are those that go the extra mile.

Think about a time you had brilliant support from a representative in-store when buying a product. Perhaps the person helped you to your car with your purchase or added value that made your day a little easier.

The key is to create those same talking points throughout your ambassador chat. Some quick wins could include:

  • Training your ambassadors to go to other departments to get information, rather than bouncing the prospect from pillar to post
  • Training your ambassadors with first-line mental health support information
    • Increasingly, Unibuddy ambassadors are expected to behave as mental health counselors for prospective students
  • Informing prospective students of other channels—Digipen Institute of Technology offers those wishing to connect with an ambassador the option of a face-to-face video call

You can also upgrade the skillset of your ambassadors, helping them produce content supporting answers given over chat. See our video guide on how to do this.

3 Tools to build a student ambassador communities

Building a student ambassador community where students can share their experiences, ask questions, and create relationships with others is important to establish a strong group of leaders. Here are some ways your higher ed institution can help to create the foundation for a strong student ambassador community:

H3: Create a group on social media

Having a private group where ambassadors can discuss common questions received through chat is extremely valuable because:

1) Student ambassadors can get answers from peers, tapping into knowledge from the community.

2) You are creating a self-governing team—which will save you A LOT of time.

Events and socials

Sharing an activity is good for relationship-building. This doesn’t have to be lavish (a hired room with pizza will do it) but the key is deciding on an activity that your student ambassadors will enjoy.

Leaderboards and rewards

This is a positive way to use metrics. Each month in your private social group, you can share who the top performers are for most conversations, quickest response time, etc.

How do student ambassadors chat with prospective students?

Student ambassadors can easily chat with prospective students with a tool like Unibuddy Chat. If you’re managing student ambassadors regularly, set aside some time to review your own chat principles for better conversations. Start with enthusiastic advocates. Build your student ambassador chat on a solid platform and the other principles will support great conversations, helping your prospective students on the road to discovering their dream university.

How do I chat on Unibuddy?

Chatting on Unibuddy is super simple. Unibuddy Chat is easy to implement and can be up and running in just a matter of days. And once your student ambassadors are chatting with prospective students, you’ll quickly see leads improve just by having peer-to-peer chat. Unibuddy Chat is comparable to any instant messaging platform, where student ambassadors can have real-time conversations with prospective students from anywhere in the world!

Interested in learning more? Book a free demo today and explore how your higher ed institution can improve student-to-student conversations with our easy-to-use chat platform.

Follow the ambassador chat checklist

If you’re managing ambassadors regularly, set aside some time to review your own chat principles for better conversations. Start with enthusiastic advocates. Build your ambassador chat on a solid platform and the other principles will support great conversations, helping your prospective students on the road to university.

Did you find this useful?

If you did, you should probably subscribe to The Chat, our fortnightly newsletter about community marketing and how to create belonging.

In each edition, you’ll learn how universities are building student-to-student marketing and recruitment strategies, and receive conversational insights from 10 million+ messages sent via Unibuddy Chat.

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– Words by Kyle Campbell, Content Marketing Manager

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