To the relief of almost half of the country’s school leavers, the long and frantic University application season is steadily drawing to a close. With the numbers of applicants reaching new heights every year and with more and more universities to choose from, the level of competition between higher education institutions has never been higher.
With up to 87% of new applicants factoring social media into their search process, all over the world the necessity for higher education to reach new students through original social media marketing has never been more apparent.
We here in the office have been keeping an eye out out for how the past few years’ cutting edge University marketing campaigns have been responding to changes in the social media and video marketing world. From refreshing approaches to the traditional Campus Tour video to unique experimentation with new social media platforms, cross-platform higher education video marketing has never been more important.
With 160 degree-awarding higher education institutes in the UK alone, new approaches to new media platforms is paramount when developing an effective university marketing campaign. To effectively target a wide demographic of young social media users, a quick and shareable cross-platform approach is a far more effective way of reaching further audiences than what a full length traditional introduction video can realistically achieve.
An excellent example of this is the Aston University’s presence on Vine, most notably the animated short series ’10 Reasons to choose Aston’. Garnering approximately 15,000 ‘loops’ across the series, the short 6-second 10 video series features stop-motion cut paper illustrations demonstrating the most sellable features of Aston University. Quick, bright, and instantly shareable, these videos serve as an excellent way to reach the typical overwhelmed school-leaver being bombarded by 160 admissions departments.
Another good example of innovative cross-platform social media oriented education marketing was the 2014 Southampton Solent clearing campaign ‘The Future You Want is Still Within Your Reach’. Branded under a Tinder-esque visual, the campaign utilised Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to plug their ‘#asksolent’ 24 hour clearing hotline, a campaign so effective it was nominated for 2 industry awards.
Every applicant watching university created content is looking for one thing – honest, insider insight into what to expect from their time on campus. This can come in many forms, be it through the more traditional ‘Whistle-Stop Tour‘ style of a student presented guided tour piece or through an interview style experience-orientated talking-head video.
An interesting take on this ‘what-to-expect’ video was released by Cambridge University in the form of an insider-look into the formidable Cambridge interview process as seen from the side of both the interviewee and interviewer. The video, entitled ‘The Interview‘, has seen a massive 250,000 views as it is functional as both an informal insight into the very selective CU interview process, perhaps the biggest source of anxiety for any prospective student, and as a general guide to interview-based university applicants.
Since the rise in tuition fees in 2012, research has shown that there has been a huge upswing in prospective students viewing their time in higher education as an investment on which a return is not only expected but demanded. As such there has been a huge investment in personalised student communication as each institute knows that for every student who feels alienated, there are dozens of competitors waiting to poach them.
For video creators this means one thing. Variance. Creating a consistent, wide-scope body of varied content designed to provide at least one video for each sub-demographic of prospective student is key to attracting a diverse and engaged student body.
A brilliant model is the University of Oregon’s YouTube and social media presence. With a massive 1826 videos on YouTube ranging from interviews with the Dalai Lama, to alumni’s sustainable micro-living, to rowing team meets, to life on Mars, the key for UO’s excellent online presence as a dynamic, multi-faceted institution is in the quality, quantity, and diversity of their video marketing.
What’s in store for next year?
As with much of the video marketing world, I predict the next big thing in higher education marketing to be in VR 360-degree video. When trying to give a prospective student a fully fleshed immersive experience of university life, there is little competition to recent developments in panoramic video. Not only can this provide domestic student with a taste of campus life, but would open doors for entire university open days supported by VR for international students unable to travel to the campus before the start of term.
Be it VR or not, whatever Universities decide for their next for marketing campaign will have to keep up with the fast-changing world of social media or risk being left behind by competitors.