YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world. This shouldn’t surprise anyone when Google, who also own the biggest search engine in the world, owns it.
What is surprising is that FE hasn’t really grasped the promotional opportunities this offers. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words… Well, video is probably worth a million words. Ask yourself what will work best; producing a leaflet for potential students or showing them a video that feature your facilities and your current students saying great things about your college?
Potential students don’t even need to visit your website to see this. They can see it on their phones. Plus, not only do you get videos in the results when doing a keyword search in the video section of the Google search page, you also see them when making a conventional Google search. Videos on YouTube are likely to appear on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) amongst links to standard webpages. As Google own YouTube this is not surprising; and FE needs to exploit the opportunity it offers.
Potential students can also find your college if they search YouTube itself plus you can include a video link in an email or in a newsletter.
Sadly, many colleges spend a lot of time and money making videos and then fail to utilise them correctly. The reason is they think just posting them on YouTube or putting them on a page somewhere on their website is enough. In many cases these videos are excellent, but are only viewed by a handful of people. What a waste!
As for the expense, reality can be different. It is quite easy to spend £thousands per minute of finished video but there are viable alternatives. These include making video from photographic stills (this look much better than you imagine and you can add movement to them by panning across the picture). Converting PowerPoint presentations into video, complete with voiceover or music soundtrack, is also an option. Or how about using a software package that draws pictures and writes on the screen (again you can add sound); NEETS love these presentations. All these options are relatively quick and low cost to make. A simple series of stills and soundtrack can be used to produce a video in 1-2 hours at nil cost!
YouTube videos aren’t limited to promotional use. They can also provide superb teaching resources. One of the best I’ve personally used is produced by a private university in the US to support a module on marketing pricing strategies. This is a topic I know well and have taught at this level … and I have to say this 20-minute video encapsulated all that needs to be said on the subject in a powerfully engaging way.
In the UK there are few FE exemplars of excellence. One is Bedford College. They have won prizes for their college video; it has been viewed over 6000 times and succinctly introduces students to the Bedford and Shuttleworth campuses, courses and college life in less than 4 minutes.
In the past, for quality reasons, best practice was to host your videos on your own servers. Today best practice is to host on YouTube and embed copies on your website. This prevents your website crashing should your videos go viral and allows more potential students to see them.
Best practice also means we should be fully utilising video as a very effective low cost communications channel that can be measured in terms of ROI and student recruitment.
Stefan Drew is a marketing consultant, and was previously director of marketing at two FHE colleges. He now works with providers throughout Europe and the US. Visit: www.EmployerEngagementStrategies.co.uk