November 3, 2022
You know a glossy prospectus isn’t enough: with colleges spending billions on marketing to prospective students, how can your student outreach plan stand out from the competition? Bergh’s School of Communication adopted a social media-first approach to reach students where they already are, and they’d never seen so many admissions before – all thanks to the power of video, an audience-first mindset, and a strategy we’re about to pull the curtain back on.
The hard truth: Colleges are spending billions on marketing, which means that prospective students are inundated with an overwhelming barrage of information from universities across every channel, and it’s making their decision harder.
Staying top of mind with prospective students today needs an effective social presence that feels accessible, relatable and desirable to students. It’s no mean feat. But many universities fall behind, focusing their content on existing followers and forgetting to have an outreach content strategy for new students at all, let alone one that resonates with students, new or old.
To make an impact on social, use video. Your institution can take prospective students through the entire customer journey: from awareness, to consideration - to ultimately conversion to applications. Engage, enthuse, ask questions, use trends judiciously – and do it all from the audience’s perspective. You have to make content they truly want to watch.
It’s a strategy that works. One study shows that universities can achieve a 73% higher conversion rate by using relevant video for every stage of the marketing funnel to recruit new students.
In central Stockholm, Berghs School of Communication is a vocational school and one of Sweden’s most reputable in the field of communication. Every year, hundreds of prospective students nervously await the results of their applications.
Despite its success, Berghs had noticed that the number of applications had stalled, and that those who applied were largely from a similar demographic. Berghs wanted more applications – and it wanted to broaden the pool of students who applied, too.
Berghs had tried several different marketing strategies, and the recommendation from the social media agency KIT was to put all other marketing activities on hold and focus on social-first and mobile-first content.
“We wanted to help Berghs reach out to more potential students in a broad way by establishing a relatable brand identity, and giving concrete facts about what an education with them can actually lead to. We contacted former students who were asked to tell us about something they had created or achieved after their education, and share what they were proudest of”, says Linda Öhrn Lernström, then Head of Creative Studio at KIT.
The videos and articles were distributed across social. And the result? “Brilliant. In every way. All we had to do was sit back and take in all the applications,” said Johan Malmgren, Operational Project Manager at Berghs School of Communication. Never before had Berghs received so many applications in such a short time. By distributing more content to more audiences, they also managed to broaden the demographics of the students who applied for the courses.
So video works for recruiting new students. Isn’t it a huge drain on money and time? Actually, no! You need a content strategy and an easy-to-use video tool where everyone in your organisation can easily learn how to produce video themselves.
A content strategy will ensure you’re delivering the right messages to the right customers. Always have a clear customer journey in mind to validate your decision making — it’ll make it easier!
What channels are your prospective students on? Make sure your video content is optimised for the channel you are distributing it on, and build out a customer journey based on each channel.
Chances are, they’re your very best marketers — you just don’t know it yet. Let them feature in your communications, but don’t forget to think about demographic spread. Use students of different genders and backgrounds - and from your different educational backgrounds.
Always ask the question, “Who do I want to reach with this video - will that person be interested in what I’m saying?”. Refer to current trends and add to the conversation where possible, instead of always starting your own!
Students appreciate feeling that the institution is communicating directly to them — it shows that they want to get to know them better, and direct address grabs attention (replace thinking about “we” to thinking about “you”). Be active in the comments section - invite questions and make sure you are organised to respond quickly to questions that are asked.
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