Could universities build a stronger affinity with their audiences?
Here are some thoughts about how you can integrate branded content into your student marketing video plan!
With so much competition among universities to attract the best students from the UK and abroad, there has never been a more relevant time to be adventurous with video.
Let’s face it, people, especially young people, don’t like being sold to. So, in the words of Mike Clear from Digitas, ‘make sure the entertainment value of the content outweighs the discomfort of being sold to’.
Take the old University favourite: the ‘student profile’ or ‘case study’ in which students share their experiences on video. If they’re good talkers it can work well, but let’s face it, this kind of video has been around for quite a while, so your audience knows exactly what it’s going to hear before it watches the video.
This is because the focus is usually on the students’ experience at the university and it’s all rather safe and reverent. So turn it around. Rather than taking the safe approach, maybe think about finding protagonists with fascinating stories who just happen to be students at your university, and look to pull out a few surprises here and there.
A brilliant example of branded content (before this became a well-known marketing term) was the ‘Periodic Table’ video project, produced by The University of Nottingham with Professor Martyn Poliakoff. These Chemistry videos were exceptionally engaging and not about the University of Nottingham at all, yet they served to enhance the reputation of the Uni and the Professor, whilst building massive (and I mean massive) audience views. A truly great concept. Nice work!
Having produced lots of content for Nottingham Trent University for the last 9 or 10 years and others like the University of Nottingham and De Montfort, we’ve learnt a thing or two about what works (and what doesn’t!). Strangely enough, it’s often the videos that producers find less exciting to make that really engages with the audience. We love making glamorous promos, playing with new ideas, making things look gorgeous… but very often it’s plain old fashioned good storytelling and interesting content that makes people watch and interact.
Think about other ways that you can get under the skin of your audience. First of all, where and how are they watching? What do they want to know (not necessarily ‘need’ to know)? And finally, how can your video be interesting, unexpected, even irreverent and get across the personality of your institution.
Here are our top 5 tips on what you should be thinking about when it comes to student marketing videos:
01 / Make a plan
Always start by mapping out how you’re going to access your student audience; how and where do they watch? Every video project should be seen across a variety of social platforms. By all means start with your website and YouTube channel, but also think about driving viewership through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the rest.
02 / Think interactive
Make sure you encourage comments, conversations and interactions with your audience, with the video being at the heart.
03 / Keep it short
The biggest mistake people make is trying to cram too much information into a single video. If you’ve got lots to say, say it across several short videos.
04 / Make it entertaining
Generation Z has grown up with YouTube. They like useful information, a good sense of humour and don’t like anything that feels like a hard sell.
05 / Think mobile
The younger the audience, they more likely they are to view on their phones or tablets. From keeping on screen text big enough to read, to autoplays on Facebook without sound, to vertical videos … there are lots of things to think about.
For more advice on videos aimed at a student audience, call Ian, Sally or Paul on 0115 969 3636