As the university admissions landscape becomes increasingly competitive, institutions are leveraging video content in creative ways to pique the attention of prospective students. It’s no longer enough to rely on traditional approaches; to remain relevant in the eyes of stakeholders, the higher education sector needs to embrace the newest and most innovative approaches. VR, interactive videos and engaging explainers are just the tip of the iceberg…
Photo by Sam McGhee.
Generation Z(89%), Millennials (86%), Generation X (68%), and Baby Boomers (52%) use YouTube at least once a week to access video content, according to The Manifest.
Why is video content such a valuable asset?
When it comes to social media engagement, video is king. It’s a versatile medium that is richer than text content or images alone. It’s also more accessible than other forms of content; for instance, viewers can watch with the sound on or off and read the subtitles, depending on your mood or preference. With video, you can communicate your values while showing off your campus and provide an insight into programmes and community at the same time.
In the past, institutions have found it difficult to measure the success of video content, however that’s all changed. Nowadays, universities are using video to increase website visits, turn leads into applicants, educate prospective students and offer support throughout the student lifecycle. According to Cisco, video will account for 82% of internet traffic globally by 2022, up from 75 per cent in 2017. What’s more, live video will increase 15-fold over that time to account for 17 per cent of internet video traffic by 2022.
1. Virtual reality campus tours
Higher education institutions are ripe for virtual reality campus tours, however not every university has them in their marketing arsenal. At a time when social contact is limited and international travel is not always viable, virtual tours are a must. As well as providing you with the opportunity to show off your campus, virtual tours make prospects feel connected with your HEI on a personal level by offering an insight into its culture, vibe and values.
For maximum impact, get your VR content in front of applicants early on in the funnel. For example, you could offer tours in return for information on the individual, such as name, location and planned field of study. Check out Manchester Metropolitan University’s virtual tour. It enables the viewer to navigate by faculty and each mini-tour is led by a student from the institution. As you can see, this example combines VR footage, text, maps and more.
2. Personalised video content
Nowadays, prospective students expect HEIs to provide the level of personalisation they receive from the brands they love. Having a ‘catch-all’ student recruitment video will no longer cut it. As well as helping to nurture relationships with prospects, statistics show that personalised videos have significantly higher open and click-through rates. Leverage the information you have on students to send personal videos. This level of effort and customisation can have such a positive impact, especially at a time when the pandemic can leave people feeling isolated or marginalised.
You could consider creating the following videos:
- Personalised campus tours
- Application process explainers
- Academic tutor introductions
- Individual acceptance videos
- Financial aid explainers
In this heartwarming video, Stanford University’s class of 2024 share their reactions to their acceptance letters.
3. Over The Top (OTT) video ads
OTT advertising doesn’t mean melodramatic ads that over-hype your institution. It simply refers to adverts that are delivered - in a targeted way - directly to viewers through streaming video services on the internet over a variety of devices, including mobile and smart TVs.
It’s ‘over the top’ because it bypasses traditional TV advertising providers. It uses data-driven targeting to ensure that ads are seen by the right audience, eliminating waste and driving up relevance and engagement. Streaming channels like Hulu display OTT ads.
You can fine-tune your geographical reach to prospective students in specific areas and focus on certain age groups, as well as a whole host of other variables. Although it’s not a brand new concept, it’s relatively underutilised by the higher education sector so institutions that get in there first have the opportunity to gain an advantage.
4. Shoppable social media videos
A ‘shoppable’ social media video directs prospective applicants to different pages where they can, for instance, submit an enquiry or download a prospectus. Shoppable content is popular in the ecommerce industry and the process is simple: a button pops up during the video that enables the viewer to ‘buy’ the product or service.
The concept can apply to any sector, including higher ed. For example, you could create a video for Instagram that showcases a specific faculty and link straight through to an application form, or publish a video testimonial from an alumnus and link to a page on your website that contains more information about studying at your institution (and, of course, a CTA).
Photo by Vladimir Kudinov.
CAP: With the right smartphone, backlighting, framing and editing, anyone can create engaging video content for social media.
In order to leverage video in an effective way, you need to have the foundations in place; an admissions platform that will enable you to share personalised content at each and every step of the admissions journey.