Giving away your academic expertise might be one of the best ways to cultivate prospective students into current, paying students. Here’s how to leverage educational videos for higher ed marketing!
The rise of educational videos allows basically anyone, anywhere to be an instructor in something.
From sewing sweaters to ancient Greek philosophy, e-learning sites can almost mimic traditional classes like the ones you have to offer.
I’ve already written about how to compete with this ever-growing menu of college alternatives here, so I won’t go into that.
However, in this post, I want to show you how you can take a page out of their playbook and start leveraging educational videos for higher ed marketing.
First, let’s recap a few content marketing basics.
Content marketing is an inbound marketing strategy that publishes helpful, entertaining, or informative content which adds value to a prospective student’s life as a means to attract them to your marketing materials.
Further content you publish should be designed to motivate the prospect through a series of decisions which ends in the prospect becoming an actual student.
There are hundreds of different types of content you can use for your content marketing strategy.
For most of this content, you’ll want to create it using your in-house staff and marketing agency partners.
But one of the most prolific and readily available sources of great content you could use is right inside your school’s own “hallowed halls.”
Your faculty – and even staff members – can be the perfect subject-matter experts to create educational videos for your higher ed marketing strategy.
Recently, I mentioned how Southern Seminary was using this technique to build their educational brand.
Southern’s faculty star as the subject matter experts for the school’s “Honest Answers” YouTube playlist.
At least in terms of views, this playlist has done well to grow Southern Seminary’s brand awareness with many of the individual videos garnering well over 100,000’s of views.
And this strategy could very likely work for you.
So if you’re deciding to leverage educational videos for higher ed marketing, here are some things to keep in mind.
Create branded video playlists.
It can be a challenge to provide the content marketing resources necessary to attract new students to your school’s various academic programs.
You don’t want to lose that cohesive quality that forms your overall brand, yet each school within your college has unique features that need to be shown off.
Creating branded video playlists is an excellent way to create educational videos with your faculty across the teaching departments in your school.
Here are a few ideas that you could use to kickstart your video marketing strategy:
- “The Culinary Cast” could be a way to introduce students to your gastronomy program.
- “Philosophy for the Modern World” could show your philosophy program’s relevance for new students.
- “Beyond the Classroom” could present your botanists, biologists, zoologists or other kinds of scientists in the field sharing their discoveries.
- “Intrepid Entrepreneurs” could showcase the business philosophies of your MBA program.
Keep your background consistent.
While you might publish a variety of educational videos on different playlists, you will need some consistency.
Keeping your background consistent will make the videos in your playlist seem like a cohesive work of art.
For best efficiency, go with an all-white or all-black background with focused lighting.
This relatively cheap setup will save you the hassle of scheduling outdoor shoots around changing weather patterns.
It also will help keep the focus on your faculty member.
They are the content.
You don’t want viewers to be watching animals or people in the background.
If you do shoot your educational videos outside, I recommend focusing on the subject in the foreground so that the background is blurred.
Create a script or template.
This script should be more of an outline or template, not a word-for-word script.
You’re relying on your faculty members to know what to say, so you don’t want to waste your time writing out scripts verbatim.
Besides, most of your faculty probably aren’t good at reading scripts in a dynamic or interesting way.
But they will need a guide to help them give you the content you need.
A content outline should be simple, allowing the faculty member to fill in the blanks, for example…
- Big question
- What do most people know about this subject?
- Where are they right?
- Where are they wrong?
- Summary answer
Don’t be afraid to be controversial.
Southern Seminary’s “Honest Answers” playlist is a fantastic way for them to show prospective students the quality of their professors.
But it does even better at displaying the distinct way Southern approaches their core subject, theology.
As a seminary, Southern knows that not everyone will agree with them, and not every seminary student is right for their school.
Instead of hiding that fact, they lean into it in their “Honest Answers” playlist with controversial topics like…
- Is it OK for Christians to take antidepressants?
- What is the gift of tongues? Is speaking in tongues the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
- What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?
- Is using birth control a sin?
By addressing these topics, these educational videos help prospects to “self-identify” or “self-qualify” themselves.
This can save your enrollment team hours of time trying to determine if the prospect is a good candidate for your school or not.
Beyond the qualification of the prospect, educational videos that lean into controversy tend to stir the interest of like-minded prospective students and their parents.
And that means they’ll be much more highly motivated as they move through the student’s journey or your marketing funnel.
Of course, controversial doesn’t mean your educational videos have to be rude, unfeeling, or defensive.
In fact, the more seriously your faculty treat the opposing view, the more authoritative your educational videos will be.
Assign topics to faculty.
Basically, on this last point, don’t “wing it.”
In other words, don’t leave it up to faculty members to simply ramble about anything they are interested in.
I encourage you to do a little research to see what questions people are asking about the academic areas your faculty members represent.
Here are some questions that can guide you to topics to assign to your professors.
- What are the confusing parts of the subject matter?
- Are their areas of controversy in the subject matter?
- How has the subject matter been represented in the news, academics or popular culture?
While you’re doing your own research, don’t hesitate to reach out to your faculty to ask them for the answers to these questions.
More than likely, they can answer the questions and get you the list of topics you need.
The point here is that you need to be involved in identifying the topics of the educational videos and assigning them to the various faculty members.
If you don’t assign specific topics, faculty members will be less likely to give you the content that you need.
And they’ll be more likely to procrastinate rather than getting in front of your camera.
Need some more help to get your higher ed video marketing strategy to the next level?
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