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Put It On Film!

Ineke Caycedo
VP, Brand Development

When it comes to online video, more and more colleges and universities are upping the ante in both quantity and quality. The subject matter and the audiences to which they are directed are also evolving. Where once admission, athletics, and academics seemed to be the primary focus of online video content, now videos range the full spectrum from recruitment-focused content, athletic recaps, and featurettes on academic offerings to acknowledging donors, soliciting donors, or something completely off the wall.

Reasons for this include an administration and staff more comfortable with the notion of content solely developed for online use, the social aspects of this medium, and more familiarity with the software and hardware used to create it. Perhaps too, college brand managers are becoming aware of how much video people watch online – it now rivals basic cable.

Along with More Volume Comes Greater Creativity and Better Production Value
Perhaps one of the shining examples of higher ed creativity and production value is the Stroh Center Rap produced by Bowling Green State University. ESPN called it “the single greatest arena-themed rap video in the history of the genre.” Go ahead, watch! We’re betting you’ll agree.

With a lot creativity, the willingness to take some risk, and the insight to invest in an heightened production value, BGSU hit the sweet spot with this video – a perfect marketing swoosh you could say. It fullfilled the necessity of thanking generous donors and engaging alumni, while also creating something that could be used to appeal to prospective students, show off the new basketball arena, engage the University community, and capture attention from the public at large. The growing number of YouTube views, now more than 100,000, prove it. Now that’s a lot of bang for BGSU’s initial investment. For more background on the video, read this news story.

Upping Production Quality Just a Little Can Go A Long Way
While videos with the “homemade” quality that we’ve come to expect from YouTube still dominate its playlists and can be great assets to an overall brand campaign. (We’ve touched on student-made videos in the past on our blog, and if the content is great, it hardly matters, and can even be endearing, if the video is lower quality.) However, the trend now is toward increasing the number of professionally polished videos made just for online purposes.

There’s good reason for this. As the online medium becomes more of the place where we consume high-production-value entertainment like television shows and movies, advertisers are moving to keep pace by producting high-production-value ads. Taken together, it’s increasing consumer expectations of quality. What that means for brand managers is a greater need to invest more in quality products and production for this medium. Below are some other examples we’ve seen that have accomplished this effectively.

Share Expertise
Without all-star faculty, elite students aren’t likely to enroll at your institution. There is no better medium to share what your best and brightest professors have to offer – on current events nonetheless. That’s what Emory University took advantage of recently as they shot a video featuring law professor and Islam expert Abdullahi An-Na’im about the future of Libya after Gadhafi. Did the video go “viral”? No – at the time of this writing it has 204 views. But this is excellent, high-impact, easy to create content that unquestionably furthers the message of prestigious faculty.

Recruitment for Students by Students
Interviewing current students is a strategy that, more times than not, just works. This is the case because prospective students want to hear from someone like themselves; someone with whom they can relate. While the video ends up mediocre if the subject is simply rattling off general compliments about the university, the testimonial content takes on an entirely new level of effectiveness when it gets more specific. A great example of this is the video below produced by Webster University. The video features a film production major, who begins with some general comments on the university itself, including its close-knit atmosphere and open-minded students. He then touches on a few other more unique, yet still general, aspects including the acceptance of students from different backgrounds, connections between majors, and getting to know professors despite the size of the school.

Finally, the video subject arrives at very specific factors he really loves about the university that relate to his major directly. He can create a professional-looking video product because of the great equipment Webster University provides. A prospective student even slightly thinking about majoring in film production is going to love this.

There’s another similar and brand new video on Webster’s Facebook Page worth watching, too.

And for a second mention in this article, check out this recent video by BGSU featuring a student. There are those high production values again!

Anything You Can Think Of
The below video created by the Ohio State University Alumni Association isn’t exactly the best recruiting piece, but it’s a unique idea that just about all audiences can grasp. And yet again, it’s another example of there aren’t a lot of limits to subject matter for video production. Long gone are the days producing a long, boring recruitment video. The key now is creating short, high quality content on a frequent basis.

If you are interesting in seeing a variety of different higher ed created videos from a variety of sources, check out EMG’s Higher Ed Videos YouTube playlist. We’re always adding to this playlist, so if you’d like to get some additional exposure for your awesome videos, please point us to it by tweeting the url to us at @EMGonline or by posting it on our Facebook page.

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