Ten education video marketing trends for 2017

How would you sum up your college or university’s education video marketing strategy for the last 12 months?

You may have a promotional video that has been an important part of your online and social strategy. You may have started to produce more targeted video content. But could you be doing more? Is your college or university keeping pace with how big brands are using video to engage their audiences?

The New Year is the ideal opportunity to reassess your approach to video marketing. And to help you plan and prepare your strategy, we’ve shortlisted our top predictions for the next 12 months.

FE & HE Marketing | The 10 trends that will shape education video marketing in 2017:

1. Video content will become bitesized

Would you sit and watch a lengthy video about a brand? Even if you like what they do or sell? It’s unlikely that you would, and neither would your audience. Prospective students and influencers are consuming content via their mobile devices while they’re on the go. Short, snackable videos – between 30 and 90 seconds in length – are ideal. They suit our busy lives, brief attention spans and the need to consume content easily and quickly. The three key elements of snackable content are that it is:

  • Eye-catching.
  • Short.
  • Easy to follow.

Take Bacardi. The snackable videos on its Facebook page are aimed towards the brand’s 18-34 target demographic. All are mostly under 30 seconds in length. They offer their audience lifestyle content and a cocktail recipe series; it’s a mix of entertainment and product information which viewers can consume in under a minute. Bacardi’s videos have generated huge huge levels of engagement among their audience. Many have been watched over a million times, with thousands of comments. The takeaway for your education video marketing in 2017 is this: the shorter and more focused your video content is, the better.

2. Social promotion of videos will boom

According to Forbes, four million businesses advertised on Facebook in 2016 – a 50% growth from the previous year. We live in our social networks. We go to them for news, entertainment and social interactions. As education marketers, we need to be where our audiences are. The opportunities for targeting are huge; Facebook has huge amounts of information about all of us, and much of that is available to your college or university. And the best news is that video content has the highest engagement rate versus any other type of content – to the tune of 25%, according to Adobe.

If your college or university hasn’t done so already, 2017 is the year to promote your message with paid-for video ads on social media.

3. Content will adapt towards the silent majority

Facebook might be hosting upwards of eight billion views per day on its platform, but the majority are happening in silence. As much as 85% of video views happen with the sound off. The best-performing videos jump off our news feeds with a combination of striking visuals and text-heavy descriptions. The Channel 4 News Facebook page provides a first-rate example of how to share information effectively through a combination of images and text. Catering for silent autoplay could also mean holding back on dialogue. Instead, think about creating something people can understand through visuals alone, like this example by Kraft Foods.

Facebook has built a system where users don’t have to turn the volume up to enjoy videos. How can your college or university embrace silence and find ways to captivate viewers without the need for sound in 2017?

4. Live streaming will grow and accelerate

2016 saw brands begin to use live streaming creatively. For example, Waitrose broadcast live from its partner farms for an entire week, and made TV spots and print ads from the footage. We expect 2017 to bring more live streaming on both social media and traditional media platforms. The novelty and interactive nature of the format, combined with the ease with which users can now stream, has increased growth and removed barriers to adoption. Even Facebook is getting into the game, ranking live video higher in user’s News Feeds than pre-recorded video content. Now it’s time for us as education marketers to catch up the big brands – and our audiences – by going live.

5. Video content will become more targeted and frequent

Have you been through the process of filming a one-off, epic promotional video from start to finish? If so, you’ll know the hard grind involved. Liaison with academic and estates staff over suitable filming times and locations; convincing potential participants to attend casting sessions; and, perhaps, a lengthy sign-off process. These are just some of the challenges faced by education video marketing teams, and we feel your pain!

However, we have some good news. Rather than filming one epic promotional video once every three or four years, we predict colleges and universities will move towards the creation of a higher volume of regular, more targeted content, covering all aspects of the student journey. Education video marketing in 2017 will move toward monthly and even weekly video content, rather than being a ‘leap year’ event.

Not only will this better meet the needs of segmented audiences; producing this kind of regular content has a side benefit for marketing teams. It isolates the production process to smaller areas of the organisation, reducing the administrative and sign-off processes in turn.

6. Content will be more useful

Showing your audience how to do something, such as solving a problem or challenge, is one of the fastest-growing commercial trends for short video content. BuzzFeed understands its audiences better than most brands, and got in on the game early. Their Tasty brand content provides highly-addictive and quick-to-produce cooking how-tos. Launched in July 2015, Tasty now has over 78 million Likes. A follow-up focusing on DIY how-tos, Nifty, launched in March 2016 and already has 23 million Likes. What helpful content, that might encourage people to engage with your college or university, could you create for your community?

7. Integration with other marketing channels will improve

As American President Dwight D. Eisenhower once put it, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”. The same can be said for education video marketing: only once your content is fully aligned to your other online and offline activities will you realise the full return on your investment.

Does the ‘hero’ student from your video also feature prominently in your prospectus, outdoor campaigns and on your website? Is video part of your email strategy? Remember, using the word “video” in an email subject line increases open rates by 19%, boosts click-through-rate by 65%, and reduces unsubscribes by 26%. As colleges and universities start to think more closely about how video can be embedded throughout the student journey, we expect to see greater integration with other marketing channels.

8. Authenticity will stay centre-stage

“Authenticity” is frequently described as the marketing word of the decade by industry commentators. Millennials don’t like be advertised to. Brands in all sectors are starting to ditch traditional selling in favour of engaging customers on their terms. The value in having genuine people from your college or university inspire, inform and entertain audiences across social, content and video is real. Serving up the content your audience wants, on their terms, in a language they understand, from people they trust, works.

Is your college or university willing to expand its comfort zone, encouraging rather than dictating social conversations, personal stories and videos? Don’t be afraid of everyday people sharing their love for your organisation in their own words or style. To succeed, you’ll need to be open to criticism. However, there is often real value in finding out things you may not want to hear, and respect to be gained from tackling them in an upfront and open style. Prospective students will also respect your college or university for encouraging balanced opinions. After all, which reviews do you trust most on TripAdvisor: the 5-star monologue of praise, or the 4-star review from someone who complains that the breakfast buffet was too small?

9. Video content will be bolder and more creative

The days of brands following the traditional TV advertising format are dead. As video advertising has matured, content has moved away from advertising towards storytelling. Brands are increasingly acting like publishers, seeking to engage and inform their audiences. Reebok’s 25,915 days campaign struck a chord with audiences by reminding them how many days the average human lives for. The video even has a clickable call to action for users to calculate how many days they have remaining. This interactive, personalised tool creates a sense of urgency, which can be a powerful motivator.

Meanwhile, Android’s Friend’s Furever campaign has been shared more than 26 million times. The takeaway here is that even the simplest of videos can be super shareable with the right subject matter. In this case, that subject matter is animals, which Android used to focus on shared experiences. By tapping into viewers’ emotions, the video has built-in broad appeal and shareability. The standard has been set; how will you make your video campaigns more memorable in 2017?

10. Students will stand at the heart of the creative process

When college and university marketers pitch new video content to senior leaders, the comeback is often: “why can’t we get our students to produce it, giving them experience and saving money”. Although it’s unrealistic to expect students learning their craft to produce professional standard output, we expect to see students becoming more heavily involved throughout the creative process. For example, when creating this film for Northampton College, students were present in focus groups, as on-set stars and during the editing process. After all, they know your target audience better than anyone.

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Education video marketing isn’t just an important part of prospective students’ online experience. Increasingly, video is the internet.

Ten years ago, internet users mainly read stuff all day; today, they mostly watch videos all day. Video marketing is no longer optional – Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram are all prioritizing video content. Millennials are driving this demand. It’s time for colleges and universities to take advantage of the latest trends in video marketing to boost engagement with their audiences – on their terms – in 2017.

Get your free education video marketing guide

For a ton more tips, suggestions and inspiration, request a free copy of Clearhead’s Little Purple Book of Video Marketing for HE and FE Marketers’ now. hello@weareclearhead.com or call us on 02074941589.