How to create your video distribution plan: five steps for FE and HE marketers

Why do you need a video distribution plan?

Smart universities and colleges have been embracing video as part of their content strategies for the last five years. They are looking to use video to strengthen their brand and achieve challenging enrolment targets.

After all, content is king, right? Well, it is and isn’t. The multichannel environment presents a number of challenges to HE and FE marketers.

YouTube is overflowing with great content commissioned by the HE and FE sector. Some of this content is watched by no-one.

Amazing content produced by your university or college is not enough without a large audience to get behind it.

Finding the right approach takes careful planning. The chances of your next videos becoming ‘orphan content’ – that sit unloved and unnoticed in a dark, dingy corner of the web – are higher without a well-rounded distribution plan.

At Clearhead, we’re here to help. Our five step guide for creating a video distribution plan will help steer your university or college towards better return on investment for your video marketing.

Step 1: Stand out from the crowd: Hacking YouTube

YouTube is by far the largest video platform on the web; users upload an astonishing 300 hours of video every minute. It is also the world’s second largest search engine and third most visited site after Google and Facebook.

Having a YouTube channel for your university or college is an absolute must and an essential pillar of your video distribution plan.

Yet, despite YouTube having been around for over a decade, many well-known brands still have underdeveloped or poorly organised YouTube channels.

As well as making your videos as clickable and enticing to anyone browsing as possible, it’s also important to optimise your videos for the search terms your potential audience will be using.

The following YouTube hacks will make sure your university or college stands out from the crowd, helping you create a social buzz around your channel:

  • Segmentation – Organising your content into different themes aimed at specific audiences helps create a more intuitive experience for users. For example, Schools and Departments in your university might benefit from having their own channel.
  • Consistency – Users come to expect regular content; scheduling your videos accordingly can be helpful. For example, you might decide to upload one new video on the same day and time each week. This way, subscribers know when to expect your latest videos.
  • Titles, Tags and Keywords – Title each of your videos properly, create a thumbnail that entices users to click through and watch, and add useful information to the description box. Include keywords in your video title and tags. This helps users understand what to expect and ensures they’re ranked appropriately by the YouTube algorithm. Reviews and how-to’s are popular, so make sure to include this in the title if it applies. Google’s Keyword Planner Tool will help you work out which keywords will help to drive the most views to your videos.
  • Captions and Transcriptions – Adding captions and transcriptions can boost SEO by helping Google to fully understand what your video is about. The auto caption tool isn’t always reliable, and can often misrepresent the content of a video, so take the time to add your own.
  • Importance of the first seven days – YouTube gives new videos a boost for their first seven days after publication. It’s vitally important to attract viewers who will gain value from your content in this initial period, to prevent your video sliding down YouTube’s rankings thereafter.

Step 2: Help, Hub and Hero: Segmenting your video content

First, let’s take a moment to reflect on a provocative anecdote from content marketing strategist Joe Pulizzi. He spoke about a conversation he had with a senior marketer for a multi-national brand:

“She told me that the company had thousands of fans on Facebook and wanted to know how she could use content to get more fans. I simply asked her: “What is the purpose of you being on Facebook?” She didn’t have an answer.”

The takeaway for university and college marketers is that fully understanding the purpose of each of your videos is essential if you want to distribute it effectively.

Don’t make the common mistake of starting with your channel first (“we want to have the most video views on Facebook among FE colleges in the north-west of England”).

Instead, segment your content using the Help, hub, hero approach and you’ll soon see which channels make the most sense for your unique objectives:

  • Hero content – Inspiring, entertaining and engaging your audiences. Produced just a few times each year, the key objective is to make the greatest possible impact. Perhaps the greatest ever example is Red Bull’s Project Stratos.
  • Help content Answering questions your prospective students may have. For example, producing a series of ‘how to’ videos for new students on campus.
  • Hub content – Regular insightful and informative content aiming to attract recurring views, e.g. Q&A sessions, behind the scenes access.

Step 3: Channel hopping: Telling a multichannel story

Education marketers are experts at storytelling. But sometimes you need to adapt your stories for different channels. This enables a more rounded video distribution plan to be adopted.

Avoid the “spray and pray” approach to publishing content. Instead, plan differentiated stories around your video content for your owned, earned and bought media.

  • Owned Media (your website, YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter page, microsites and blogs). These are typically your first choice as a distribution channel. However, your audience reach is limited to the size of your established audience.
  • Earned Media (what people are saying about your university or college). Earned media coverage is achieved through traditional and online PR.
  • Bought Media (paid-for advertising, including pay per click for search and social). Paid-for promotion amplifies your reach.

When it comes to creating a video distribution plan, taking advantage of earned and bought media will enable you to maximise the potential of the media platforms your university or college already controls.

Step 4: Sharing is caring: Embracing social for video distribution

Sharing content on your social networks in a way that keeps it fresh is a vital – and often overlooked – part of any video distribution plan. You’ll then get repeat opportunities to gain traction for your video.

After initially posting your video, try to create different contexts for posting them again in the future to keep your audience interested (without wearing them down!). Some of our favourite examples are:

  • Embedding the video into a blog or news story.
  • Sharing the video in a different context (e.g. alongside a link to a Google Tour of your campus).
  • Introducing a competition (tell us the time in the video you see…).
  • Presenting the video alongside a collage of stills or statement imagery.

Step 5: Measuring the success of your video content

Lastly, the final but crucial step in creating your video distribution plan is deciding how you will measure its impact and success.

Effective measurement requires proper planning. Defining the KPIs for your video content marketing (and the data you want to measure) from the outset is a useful start.

Some key forms of measurement for universities and colleges include:

  • Return on investment – Measure what you get out compared to what you put in. For example, the number of enrolments or attendees at an event. Or, for brand-building content, the number of email addresses gained, social media engagement, or just increased audience awareness.
  • Scale – How many people is your university or college video content potentially going to reach?  Are you looking for national coverage or something targeted at a local audience?
  • Brand message – How does your video distribution plan fit alongside your overall marketing and engagement strategy? Does it correspond to your university or college’s overall message and values?
  • Integration – Can your video distribution plan complement other marketing your university or college is undertaking? If so, how can you integrate it?
  • Unique Selling Point – How unique is your university or college, and its core offer? How can your video distribution plan take advantage of the genuine distinctions between you and your competitors? How can you get people talking about you?

Get help creating or implementing a distribution plan for your college or university’s video marketing

We can create and implement a distribution plan for you. We look after every detail, from optimising your video thumbnails right through to delivering visual, easy-to-understand reports. Please get in touch. You can email me via sarah@weareclearhead.com, or call me on 01582 410892.