Kristin Van Dorn:
So Kevin, you think a lot about video marketing and you think a lot about Higher Ed. What do you think about video marketing in Higher Ed?
Just want to confirm a couple things. This is a 10 minute show, correct?
Yes. Ha ha ha.
So I don’t want to get into a zone where I’m just ranting at people, but I often notice things that upset me as a video marketer and as someone who used to sit on campus. And I think with video specifically… something that I think a lot of folks in roles in and around the MarComm office aren’t doing is they’re just not taking stock of what they already have because I think it depends on the type of role that you’re in, on the size of your office, but if you’re a team of one and you’re coming in you might not know what sort of content exists that’s already there, what’s, who’s already been talked to in terms of alumni, current students, faculty.
Maybe you have a wealth of videos from the eighties that are just a gold mine of treasures that you can share and repurpose. You might not know that. Has someone who’s been in your role before you done an extensive video audit and categorized and organized things for you into a spreadsheet so you know what’s there? If not, guess what you’re gonna be doing this week?
Then you can start to do things like repurpose content for other platforms, the ones that your students are actively on and the ones that alumni use and the ones that parents use to ask questions. And you might have access to the source files and if you do, that’s when you can go back and grab those source clips and you can make sure that you’re not using the same music from the original video that might get flagged if you put it on YouTube.
You can get rid of that. You can make sure you’re using something that’s copyright free. You can also then go in and use a tool like Premiere Pro and make sure that you’re adding captions and you’re baking them right into the content and you’re making them accessible because that’s another thing that I’m like, that’s a great video, but I can’t hear it. I can’t read it if my sound’s off and someone who might need those captions to understand what’s happening is gonna get immediately turned off from your institution. So that’s where you got to start.
So when you approach a video project, what would you say are like the top few things that you’re thinking about or things that your video partners struggle with?
You need to think about what this video is supposed to do. What’s the goal? Who’s it for and what do you want it to do? Because so often you’ll come across something where you’re just like, why is this here? What is this?
It’s a video about a faculty member doing research about crabs that exist on a beach in Delaware. But I just want to know what it’s like to live on campus. So you’re coming across content that is either irrelevant to you, it’s irrelevant to the most sought after audience.
And as a university spokesperson or a team member, you’re not sure what it’s going to do for you. So you’ve got to think about who it’s for, and therefore, what platform should it be on? And then what do you want people to do after they watch it?
So ideally, if it’s a video about living on campus, you’d have them go to a CTA where they can request more information or they can request to talk to an admissions counselor or schedule a tour or come to an open house event on campus, something like that.
Oh, is that a plane that’s in my yard? Probably.
Oh no, that’s in my yard.
Oh, see, I think when people get too freaked out about their podcast, they’re like, we gotta cut that out. Let’s just keep this in.
Oh, okay, yeah.
Cause, I thought that was in my yard. I don’t care if we leave this in. I’m the one editing it, Joel, so don’t worry about it.
I think so yeah, if you’re not thinking about what you want them to do next, that’s a problem for me too. And then lastly I’m gonna get really close to the mic for this…
Not everything belongs on youtube.
You don’t have to put everything on youtube. It’s okay.
This is where I will break in with my anecdotes. You know, I’ve worked on campus where we were linking over to YouTube videos that the campus had created, but they weren’t embedding the videos on their website.
They’re sending people directly to YouTube and in that case oftentimes our competitors would air ads before people could watch a video on how to navigate the financial aid portal on our campus’s website.
So think carefully about the use of YouTube in particular or any video platform that allows for advertising, like what ads you might be associated with. It doesn’t necessarily even need to be competitors for it to be a drawback for you using that platform.
It could just be other kinds of ads that are targeting 18-year-olds that you might not want your brand associated with. It’s just something to be cognizant of when you’re sending people directly to YouTube, that this is in fact a possibility that could happen.
Yeah, exactly. And if they’re logged into their regular YouTube account, when they’re done watching whatever video you’ve embedded on your website, they’re going to get a bunch of suggested content that’s related to stuff that they’ve already watched.
And then they’re going to click through and as you said, go back to YouTube and where they might be exposed to competitor institution ads, or they might just go down a rabbit hole of watching weird singers, like have you seen the one singer I think he’s Eastern European, but he just goes, and he does a weird yodel.
He’s like, ba-da-la-la-ba-da-la-ba-ba.
When you get done, Google weird yodel singer.
So you can see, I’ve already gone down a rabbit hole of weirdness.
So imagine what it’s like if you have content on your financial aid page and then it’s explaining what a FAFSA is and how to navigate that experience and then they click through and then they’re gone. You’ve lost them.
Once they’re on YouTube, you can’t get them to come back unless they make that active choice. Whereas if you use a different hosting platform like Wistia or Vimeo for Business or Vidyard, or there’s a lot of them, you can control what they do next. You can control the viewing experience. You can keep them on your website where you can kind of guide them towards the next step.
So what are the biggest opportunities that people are leaving on the table right now with video in terms of Higher Ed?
To go back to the first point, there’s a lot of repurposing that can be done, especially at a larger institution. I can only imagine, I’ve only been at a smaller art and design school, but for larger schools, these premier leagues like the Big Ten, et cetera, et cetera, there’s a deep well, I promise you, a deep well of content.
And there’s just so many things that align with all of the different holidays and campus events and important things that happen on campus that existing content could be used for and repurposed for.
And that’s everything from opening it in Premiere or any video editing software, grabbing a screenshot of the video, adjusting the dimension so you can take something that was originally used on something that was in the 4:3 aspect ratio or 16:9 for YouTube and changing it for TikTok. Repurposing it. So I think the biggest thing is looking at what you’ve already got and uncovering opportunities to repurpose things.
And then I think just reorganizing video platforms that you’ve been using, especially YouTube, like do a big audit of your channel and figure out what is going to be more effective going forward. How can you use the channel to answer questions that students might have, parents might have, instead of just having the first thing they see be like, oh, a recent uploads, be more creative with your playlists, make it easier for people to come there and stay there and not be distracted.
What was it like for you as a former university employee? What were the ways that you encountered video and were like, I maybe would have thought that through a little bit longer?
Well, generally, the tricky spots for me were when people just wanted video just to have it. Just because they thought video was the answer to a lot of their problems, but they had no plan for how they would drive audiences to watch that video or where the video would be hosted or how that video would be segmented and used in other platforms for other purposes.
They just wanted video material, like just having the raw asset would somehow create the community that they were looking for. So that was one of the biggest challenges. Having staff with the bandwidth and technical skill to edit videos and then to provide captioning and make the videos accessible.
So we’d have assets that we just weren’t able to leverage and fully utilize for our benefit. And then I just think missing overall was like a bigger strategy for what we wanted to say about the university in general, and what we wanted video to be used for.
Like I think if the university had come out with like a very clean strategy for how to develop and be more purposeful behind video content we could have followed more direction and then had maybe better assets that were more targeted and were and like put in the right direction.
Yeah, and that just reminded me, the other thing I think is a big opportunity for MarComm folks with video on campus is partner up with your enrollment marketing and admissions folks and use video to personalize every step of the recruitment process.
What we did that I was really happy with at one of the places I worked is, we started at a high level, we made content every semester or quarter where we showcased what was happening on campus, did a quick tour, introduced the admission staff so that if you were on the website for the first time, you might encounter a video on Wistia where you got to meet the admission staff and understand who you might talk to if you have questions.
And then when students got accepted, we sent customized, personalized acceptance videos. And you can set up workflows to make that more streamlined so it’s not as time-intensive.
But that’s the thing, a lot of folks might sneer at that task and be like, that’s too much work, but is it worth doing if you spend time and money on every other aspect of becoming a student at your institution?
It is worth it. It’s worth the time.
And then once they’re there, you can use video. with your admission staff, everybody, you can answer questions with TikTok. There’s so many opportunities if you’re actively thinking about how it could be used for, for good. So I think the time is now. And if you’re putting it off because you’re worried about how long it’s going to take, or because it’s not your job, then I would encourage you to reevaluate that and do it now.