July 17, 2024

Make Videos That Click with Prospective Students

Author: Jonathan Shearer
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“Let’s just make a video!” 

We’ve all been in the meeting where someone suggests it. Whether it’s for a new program, an upcoming event or just a passion project, campus partners often assume creating a new marketing video will save the day. And it’s no surprise. Video rules the internet. 

The past decade has seen a host of new video-focused social media channels (Rest in peace, Vine; Hello, TikTok) and, with more than 2 billion users, YouTube is now the second most popular website in the world. In a recent study, 27% of prospective teen students cited YouTube videos as a major influence in where they enrolled.

However, video creation takes time and resources, and costs run up quickly – especially without an in-house team. Every institution needs a tight game plan. If video marketing is part of the mix, how can you determine what’s “video-worthy”? 

Here are three strategies for producing videos that pass the test, and tips on how to maximize their reach on YouTube.

1. Answer Top-Searched Questions

In a previous article, I discussed how your website’s site search data often unearths missing or buried content. Scanning the top 100 search queries should reveal the most common questions that visitors are asking. Why not answer them with an explainer video? A popular format in recent years, these videos have a few hallmarks: they are typically short, animated, and include an easy-to-follow voiceover. They are perfect for clarifying complex topics, such as financial aid or student billing. 

YouTube Tip: Develop institution-specific versions for your website and then post a more general, informative version on YouTube to generate more organic traffic to your channel.

2. Take Them on a Tour

Depending on how many of your students come from out of state, it’s possible a large number of prospective students may not visit campus before they apply. Engage this group by developing video content that explores campus – whether you highlight the residence halls, the student center or even the surrounding community. The more students can picture themselves there, the better! 

YouTube Tip: Create a playlist to curate a collection of related videos, such as residence hall tours or student stories. Playlists can inspire users to keep watching content, and they show up separately in search results – creating more discoverable content when users scour YouTube. 

3. Mix Things Up with Lighter Fare

Once you’ve answered prospective students’ top questions and taken them on a tour, why not have some fun? Digital media companies like BuzzFeed have built their brand on concepts like celebrities answering questions while they hold puppies, and every taste test you can imagine. Think about bringing some of these entertaining ideas into your video marketing. As long as these videos still showcase your institution, it’s worthwhile content – and it’s likely more shareable. 

YouTube Tip: Include a “Like and Subscribe” ask from the on-air talent to encourage more YouTube engagement and increase your channel’s subscriber count.

I hope this “video-worthy” list of ideas leads to videos that will click with your prospective students for years to come. 

Additional Sources

Jonathan Shearer is the executive director of marketing and communications at Elmhurst College in Illinois.

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