Higher Ed Video Marketing: The Next Generation

January 27, 2016

Higher Ed Video Marketing: The Next Generation

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Higher Ed Video Marketing: The Next Generation

It seems like new online video platforms are popping up every other day. And existing platforms are gaining strength, adding more and more features. The battle for video has leveled up, with Facebook, Periscope, Vine, Instagram, YouTube and more wading into the fray for your loyalty. How can higher ed marketers become video pros?

You probably don’t have a massive budget, and with all the options out there (and new ones all the time,) what should you try? Here’s a few tips that I hope will be helpful, and a bird’s-eye view of the video marketing landscape to help you get a solid understanding of your options.

Flee the generic 30-second video

One of our higher ed marketing predictions for 2016 was the demise of the generic 30-second admissions video. One can only hope. You know which one I’m talking about. Just watch a college basketball game, and there’s about a 100% chance you’ll see one of these as a TV spot.

Let’s picture it: We open on a sweeping fly-over of a beautiful campus, inspirational orchestral music begins. Then these scenes: three happy students under a tree, athletes crushing the competition, students diligently studying, researchers with test tubes, theater performance, happy graduates throwing mortarboards in the air. Voice-over (fill in the blanks): “This is ____. It all starts here/start here/go anywhere, training the whole student since ____.” It’s easy to fall into a rut. First step to recovery: admitting there’s a problem. So how do you avoid sounding like everyone else?

Shed all the patterns and start fresh. Take a look around your campus and find what makes you different. Just about every school has that one thing that makes you “you.” Here’s a fantastic example from Oregon:

Twitter and Instagram video: Autoplay for the win

Autoplay is your friend on these two platforms. Take every chance you get to publish video to them! Instagram’s limited to 15 seconds, but let’s be real, that’s about 10 seconds over the average attention span anyway. Twitter isn’t as limiting, but let’s not go for an Oscar. Keep it short and sweet and hit the payoff quickly. You won’t regret it- videos boost retweets by 28%.

What to do with all these video platforms?

The video landscape is booming, and it can be overwhelming and confusing. Let’s sort through some of the existing and emerging platforms.


Though competition is heating up, YouTube still owns the video space, for now, and it’s the 2nd biggest search engine (behind that one you’ve probably heard of.) How can you make sure you’re getting the most out of your YouTube channel? Start with the basics:

  1. Make sure you have your website listed
  2. Design a quality cover photo
  3. Create a channel trailer
  4. Upload videos regularly
  5. Use target keywords in your profile and video descriptions
  6. Connect your other social accounts in the bio

Also, consider YouTube ads. You know we’re not huge fans of ads in general, but if used well, you can reach your target audience right where they live.


Vine exploded off the marks and has shown steady growth, despite growing competition in the short-form space. Why should higher ed marketers pay attention to it or use it? Because it’s a gold mine of tuned-in teens. Be creative, have fun with it, and get students involved—if you’re not sure where to start, they can get you up to speed.

Next, let’s look at live-streaming platforms. The options are growing by the day. So what do you need to know?


Leading the way to easy live-streaming (sorry Meerkat), Periscope hasn’t slowed down (hitting 10 million accounts recently) and it’s catching on like wildfire in higher education marketing. It’s perfect for streaming events like graduation and other special events, and it also has potential for campus tours. Before streaming any event, test and test again (audio & connection quality, lighting, etc.). With a little practice, it can be a great tool!

YouTube Live

YouTube’s live-stream capability is a bit more complex (you’ll need encoding software), but it’s worth a look since the network is so well-established (and it’ll probably just get better.) Popular with gamers, it hasn’t caught on widely in higher ed video marketing, but the potential is there. They also provide a detailed learning guide for the platform.

Facebook Live (and soon, Facebook video)

You’ve probably seen some of your Facebook friends playing around with live-streaming  (“Jon is live!”) Facebook has created a user-friendly, quick way to connect with your fans, and it’s growing fast. Here’s a best practices guide from the creators. One stand-out feature is the automatic notifications to your subscribers (once they’ve clicked “subscribe” they’ll get a notification when you’re live.) One important note: you’ll need to be “blue checkmark” verified in order to broadcast. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be Justin Bieber to get that, just submit a form to see if you’re eligible.

And they made waves recently by announcing they were building a video-only platform inside Facebook. Though details aren’t set in stone and it’s only seen by a small amount of users, the potential is there for higher ed marketers to connect with a wide audience quickly and get them engaged. It looks to be based on a “suggested video” format, so prospective students could find you while searching for colleges and other related videos.

There you go—I hope this overview helps you sort through the ever-growing world of video marketing and find what works best for you.

Tell Us What You Think

What types of video marketing have worked for you? Are you trying live-streaming? Any platforms we’re forgetting about? Tell us about it in the comments.