As the higher education industry continues to shift, connecting with prospective students, students, parents, and alumni is more important than ever. But how do you get through all the noise that these audiences experience every day? The answer, is video.
Not convinced your institution needs a video marketing strategy? Let’s start with a few facts:
- 78% of internet users in the United States watch videos online every week.
- According to Tubular Insights, YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds than any broadcast or cable TV network.
- Over 100 million hours of video is watched on Facebook every day.
By 2019, it is estimated that 80% of all content online will be in video form. That means that all your audience members – from students to parents – will come to expect videos.
The good news is, higher education institutions have a wealth of video opportunities available. From video tours of campus to alumni “ask me anything” videos, institutions are using videos to stand out and showcase what makes them special. Videos can be used to tackle common concerns like student debt or career readiness, as well as give audiences an inside look at the culture of a college or university. Last year, Ohio State sought to address the common fear of a gap between a student’s education and career readiness. They created a video featuring three alumni that each shared their story of how their education at the university directly applied to their career path. This idea of showing, not just telling, is what has made video the new “king of content”.
Whether you’ve already started video marketing or you’re looking to get started, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to creating a video strategy for your institution.
- Set your goals.
The first step in mapping out your video strategy is deciding how you will measure success. If you are just starting out, your key performance indicator (KPI) may be the number of video views since you are focused on growing your audience size. However, if you’ve been featuring videos for the past year or longer, you may want to have engagement metrics, like comments and shares, as your KPIs. Video completion rate can also be a great KPI, and can be a helpful measure that tells you if your video length is working well. For example, if you are finding that the majority of your audience is only viewing 25% of your 1 minute video, you may want to consider cutting your video length in half so that more of your audience is watching the majority of your content.
If you’re not sure what metrics to use as your benchmark, take a look at how your peers are performing in the video realm. On YouTube, you’ll be able to see how many video views peer institutions have on popular videos, and you can view comments and shares on peers’ Facebook videos.
Performance goals aren’t the only type of goals you should think through. You’ll also want to articulate what your goals of your videos are. For example, maybe the goal of your video program is to attract more prospective students to campus. You can have a variety of end goals, and different video content can be tailored to each.
- Determine which platforms will help you meet your goals.
Based off your goals, you can start to map out which platforms you will focus on. Don’t be afraid to start small and test out your videos on one or two platforms before expanding to more. YouTube and Facebook are two good places to start.
Once you do decide on the platforms you’ll share your videos on, you need to tailor your videos for each platform. For example, YouTube can be thought of as a “massive search engine for questions and challenges”. With that in mind, you’ll want focus your YouTube videos around answering questions that your audience has. Facebook video content should be highly shareable and have emotional ties. For example, a video on a memorable campus event like homecoming. Both Facebook and YouTube offer live streaming options as well, where you can interact with your audience in real time. For example, Cal Poly recently utilized Facebook Live to host an Admissions Q&A session for prospective students.
You can also utilize your current website to feature videos, making your content more interactive for website visitors. College websites are great for testimonials and answering specific questions about college majors.
- Plan out your content.
Deciding what content should be included in your videos can be the hardest part of your video strategy. How do you know what your audience is interested in?
A great place to start is Google Analytics and Google Search Console. If you already have a blog, publication, or some kind of online content on your website, you can utilize Google Analytics to see what content is most popular by sorting your pages by “most visited”. With Google Search Console, you can take a look at what search queries are leading to your site. For example, you might find that there is a large amount of search queries related to changing your major. This could be a great opportunity to create a short video explaining the details around changing majors at your institution.
A live chat or Q&A tool can also be a great place to find ideas for content that your audience is interested. The most frequent topics that you see can make for the best video content.
Using the methods above as well as a few brainstorming sessions with your team, you can start to compile a content calendar. When planning your calendar, be sure to consider key events or milestones through the school year so that you can complement them with relevant content. For example, you can plan to launch a video about what to expect from Open House – targeting both prospective students and parents – a month before your institution’s open house event.
- Create the videos.
Planning to film the videos in house? Buffer outlines the top hardware and video editing software that you can use for your videos. In their article, they break down every item you need to get started with shooting and editing videos in house – and at every budget level. If you are producing videos in house, you have the opportunity to test out different styles and shift quickly if a video topic or style isn’t working.
Once you’ve filmed your footage, the editing and captioning comes into play. Captioning videos is not only vital for accessibility purposes, but it is also highly important considering 85% of Facebook users watch videos with the sound off.
If your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to create in-house videos, consider hiring out for video production services. In fact, Comevo offers video production services, editing, and translation services that can help you meet your video goals.
If you are low on budget or resources, repurposing video clips is another good strategy to get more bang for your buck. For example, on YouTube, you may want to post a longer video that answers a frequently asked question in detail. Then, you can take that video and post a ten second version of the “highlight” of your longer video.
- Measure performance.
After you’ve launched your first few videos, be sure to circle back to your KPIs and determine if they were successful. The best part about the digital realm is that it’s easy to test out what’s working and what’s not. For example, if you post a video that isn’t getting any engagement, you can analyze what went wrong (ex. Too long, not engaging content, posted at the wrong time of day), and then adjust on your next video using those learnings.
Remember, as with any content marketing strategy, you’re most likely not going to get stellar results on day 1. It takes your audience time to warm up to your content and become accustomed to seeing videos from your institution. If you aren’t seeing large engagement rates within the first month, that doesn’t mean you should give up on video.
Video has quickly become the preferred way to consume content, especially among Gen Z. 52% of marketing professionals around the world name video as the type of content with the best ROI. By developing a thought-out strategy for video at your institution, you can create a sustainable program that will allow you to use video as a powerful tool to engage with your audience, create deeper connections, and attract new students to your institution.