Video Marketing for Academia: Solutions for a Successful Execution Strategy


In our previous blog post, we had touched upon some common challenges that educational institutions face while executing video marketing as part of their overall social media strategy.

In this blog post, we will share the execution strategy to overcome these hurdles. These social video marketing tips for institutes are meant to drive maximum impact with minimum input costs.

The blog will also examine how you can tap the benefits of video content marketing for powerfully telling the untold story of your academic brand.

Above all, this second blog post in the series will broadly focus on solutions to execute successful video content strategy to maximize impact, provide sustainable results, and help you produce campaigns that add long-term value to your institution.

Let us start with the first step.

Unleashing the Power of Video Marketing for Academia: Strategy for Effective Execution

1. Don’t move without a plan

There are a large number of colleges and universities in the country today and several more are opening up every year. With so many options to choose from, applicants are spoilt for choice and therefore it’s important for marketers to understand that the competition to lure eye balls is tough. And that is why plans and planning assumes critical importance.

Planning stages of your video content campaign include:

  • Defining the objectives, target market, video style, length, and tone.
  • To get started, institutes should first define specific marketing goals they want to achieve through video marketing. This includes key objectives and marketing tactics behind each video. For example, is the video intended to showcase innovative teaching techniques or will it just be an institutional film being made for consumption of general audience. Clarity of purpose will help in right positioning of the video content.
  • Align your weekly / monthly theme planner accordingly.
    Additionally, before you start shooting videos, colleges should consider the specific needs and interests of the audience it wants to target. The most effective video campaigns are the ones that fit seamlessly within the college’s array of marketing goals.

Once a well-defined video marketing plan is created, a college is ready to explore other critical components needed to deploy necessary resources for its successful execution.

2. Search for Innovative Video Content

When viewers feel that content is not relevant to them, they quickly switch over to other colleges. And, once you’ve lost your viewers, it is difficult to win back their interest.

Social video marketing can be conducted for the purpose of conveying instructional / informative videos for prospective applicants, testimonials of different stakeholders such as alumni, recruiters, parents etc., campus tours and life at campus, and many more things.

However, colleges today need to create sticky video content that is beyond the regular themes. Your video content planner should reflect the needs of all the stakeholders such as recruiters, alumni, prospective applicants, their parents, policy makers, influencers and opinion makers in the job sector etc.

You may try using following ideas for producing innovative videos.

‘A Day Out in the Life of’

These can be video series covering various interesting facets of one day life of either an intern or a fresh recruit after college or even a CEO of a company. The same theme can also be extended to life of a current student in campus.

Through these videos, colleges can demonstrate many practical aspects of work environment and teach prospective students about technical and managerial skills required to excel. By capturing a day out with a current student, colleges can inform prospective students what to expect after joining campus and how to align themselves with its demands accordingly.

Broadly speaking, it is a great way to inspire, motivate and prepare prospective applicants for a challenging but self-satisfying career life ahead.

‘Organize Events on Innovative Themes’

Innovative video coverage will not simply come from static and monotonous events like college fest and quiz competitions etc. The events that serve a larger purpose are more likely to create meaningful engagement with your audience.

These could be events which include interests of a larger audience and serve long-term good to the student community.

3. Create a Storyboard

After proper planning of execution and content selection, it’s time for you to break down your overall campaign into single, discrete messages. Then craft a storyboard around that message, with core components that may include following depending upon the storyline:

  • A powerful introduction and scene setting
  • A story set up that shows a problem or a challenge.
  • Takes its viewers through a journey and discovery of new facts.
  • You may have a tag line for that video to make it more identifiable.
  • The video should stimulate call to action for driving traffic, leads etc.

4. Resources Required

You don’t need to hire a film crew for producing interesting videos but you do need people who are skilled to do the job. For instance, at times, you may need a voiceover for an illustration in the video or simply to provide narration for the story.
In general, it would be better to have some combination of the following services for rendering attention grabbing videos.

  • A scriptwriter
  • A studio room
  • A voiceover / interviewer
  • An editor having knowledge of video editing software such as FCP (Final Cut Pro), Adobe Premier Pro etc.

Knowledge of these tools will enhance your video quality by adding sound and other special effects.

Luckily, to cater to the above mentioned needs, colleges have a vast pool of in-house talent at their disposal in the form of its students. Many students these days are well equipped in shooting high quality videos.

So why not create a platform, may be a students’ driven club, where the students get an opportunity to hone their special skills and the institutes in turn benefit from their expertise and save input cost. Moreover, due to easy accessibility of students, coordination with them will be much easier than any professional agency.

5. Choose the Right Format and Distribution Channel for Promotion

Not every video format will work for you. You have to choose your effective format wisely. Additionally, it is equally important to choose the social platform that works best for your academic brand.

The strategy should be based on your specified objectives to meet such as community building or connecting with the youth or attracting recruiters or all of them. In marketing terms it could be focussed to drive brand awareness, leads generation and finally sales conversion (admission applications).

When considering how to get people to discover your video content, you need to consider a few options. The most strategic is to place it on your own website. In that case, your website should have a very high volume of traffic from your target market. But this is not enough. You also need to expand your target market by attracting new visitors to view your videos.

Here comes YouTube Marketing. YouTube has changed the way millennials consume video content. The youth today is no more glued to TV sets and are constantly hooked on to virtual communities online to share content which is customized to suit their interests.

For social media marketers in colleges, YouTube exposes a massive opportunity to connect with prospective consumers (applicants) online. Many surveys have shown that YouTube is the most popular social media site among Millennials.

Studies show that millennials prefer video content which focuses on self-directed learning on any topic and theme. When it comes to authentic feedback, they regularly look for YouTube videos to find out various testimonials and social proof for a college. With easy accessibility and affordability of smart phones, most of the YouTube views come from these devices which are very popular among youth today.

YouTube has emerged as a very powerful channel to reach out to millions of potential audience. However it has a few limitations. Unfortunately the tools to capture leads and drive sales conversion critical to any social media campaign is not available on YouTube.

Therefore, if your campaign objective is to increase conversion funnel then you need to look for a distribution channel that has the provision to capture leads, encourage application conversions, and showcase your educational brand around the video campaign.

6: Drive Engagement

Once people start discovering your video content online, the next step is to encourage them to watch it. You need to do following things in this regard:

  • Help viewers find your video using SEO.
  • Make sure your video title and description contain the right keywords for proper search indexing.
  • Tag the video properly with your keywords.
  • Ensure that you use the best thumbnail to generate huge click-throughs. Thumbnail images are a powerful way to tell what’s inside. You may like to test it once before going live.
  • Embed video link in as many platforms as you can to help drive up its rankings across search engines.
  • Providing really good information to your viewers to help them decide why they should watch your video.
  • Create testimonials for your video in the combination of likes, comments, shares, number of views, vote rankings etc. This will help eliminate possible doubts and people will be more likely to view your video as a useful source of information.
  • Keep it short. An ideal video length should not exceed 3 minutes. If you have a lot of information to cover, consider breaking the content apart into multiple stand-alone videos.
  • Customize video content for each platform. Whether the video will be on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat or your college’s website, consider what types of messaging, storylines or lengths work best on each.
  • Develop user specific series of videos that help people know about your academic brand well. These could cover topics related to application process, academic programs, type of jobs offered after course completion to name a few and can help prospective students visualize their future.
  • Most importantly, be authentic. Marketers are under constant pressure to make their institutions shine. But keep in mind that videos that are too polished may not be as appealing to your audience as a genuine, authentic delivery. Consider going for a studio shoot in favor of capturing students or faculty in their usual spots on campus.
  • Consider details such as load time and aspect ratio that can impact viewability from a mobile phone.
  • Help viewers follow your video by adding captions / subtitles wherever necessary.

7: Don’t just Measure but Analyse the Results

Measuring success will only tell how far you have reached but analysing the outcome will tell you where to align efforts to reach the end goal.

Analyse the performance of your video campaigns and judge their effectiveness in driving the ultimate purpose. You should compare the total number of views a video generates across social platforms so that you can make smart decisions on where to allocate your funds and resources next time.

Compare the quality of leads generated vs. distribution channels to see which ones are effective and which have to be dropped.

You can also compare how many mentions your college gets before, and then after the video has been released across the media channels it has been watched. What is the number or percentage increase of new visitors it has generated to your website and other social platforms? Can you analyse the brand outreach after release of the video? How often is it being tweeted and retweeted, or quoted by people to increase social voice share? Has it actually generated conversation around your brand?

The insights gathered from answers to these questions will guide your marketing team to analyse campaign effectiveness and design future course of strategy accordingly.

In terms of calculating advertising return on investment, it will tell how much are you spending per quality lead versus other forms of channel marketing.

If your purpose was simply to create discussion points around your educational brand, you could take the total number of views and find out the average length of a view to measure viewers’ engagement in that particular video content.

Some of the metrics to measure brand awareness include:

  • Total number of views i.e. how many people actually watched your videos?
  • Number of shares it has generated. Don’t just look at how many times it’s been shared, but look at who is sharing it i.e., are there 10 people sharing it, but they have tens of thousands of Twitter followers; or are there 100 people sharing it who have only 100 followers in their social network.
  • Finally, number of mentions, comments the video has generated on Twitter, Facebook and other social channels or even on your own website. How often is your educational brand noticed online, across forums and in groups?

Closing Comments

Videos can be a wonderful marketing tool to engage your target audience. However it is difficult to earn viewership without a thoughtful content strategy. People could lose interest mid-way if your content lacks quality and relevance.

Ensure that your video content helps prospective students in their college selection process. Ensure to produce fresh and authentic content. Each time as you progress along, learn how to get better at it and refine your output.

You may plan to produce videos periodically starting with focussing on brand recognition pre-admission cycle. Then, during admissions you may run video campaigns focussing on lead generation. Finally, with a whole lot of marketing data and metrics, push campaigns in the last months to drive conversions.

We hope that our readers will make best use of the points explained in this blog to optimize their video marketing efforts.

All the best for your video marketing endeavours!!!