How to Get Students Back On Campus - Hint: It Involves Video!

Goodsides dives (to play on the image above) into the reality of college campuses and their need for video to attract students and staff.
The main takeaway that we explore in this article: Using athletics and fitness center amenities to pull in more in-person student numbers is not enough. Colleges and universities need to put these in the best light possible, with music, proper pacing, and hit the emotional notes too. Condensing text offerings and experiences into a 1-minute cinematic frame ensures that the next step taken is an action towards registration/enrollment. Students are demanding it.

Goodsides had the recent privilege of shooting b-roll for a community college in SoCal, one with a vibrant athletics department, investments in student health and wellness, and access to aquatic activities through its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

Isn't this awesome! - Made possible with video teams venturing out there.

Marketing teams not privy to the art of video production would think: “Wow, we’ve got it made!” But the challenge lies in telling a story across these segments and keeping viewers engaged. When you’re competing for student enrollment in a landscape that has gone virtual, SoCal higher ed offerings are now up against asynchronous learning in Oregon (for instance).

How do you take advantage of 1) everything available for students to use, and 2) make something new and exciting that puts up a good fight in this attention economy? Video is the best answer; not VR or 360 tours, not static imagery, not radio ads on Spotify.

360 tours are fine for museum exhibits that are indoors and seasonal, not exciting hybrid spaces. They keep people at home, disengaged from the full artistic or historical work, and keep revenues down. VR/360 replaces the experience with another experience that involves some amount of work (navigation) and fosters an understudied psychological distance. This is not to say that video cannot work to augment the 360 experience, because it definitely can, as seen with object tagging and video introductions. We can even imagine a case where PhD students find greater use for VR in lab environments…But these are niche cases.

Static imagery has its limitations as well. This one seems obvious, but we still see MARCOM teams attempt to fill recruitment media needs using this method. Image description CTAs should instead be used to ask for 2-5 more minutes of someone’s time - at the very most! The format is simply not great for encouraging career moves. 

The irony is that our public agency partners are stretched thin due to openings everywhere, putting pressure on marketing to pump out quick collateral that stays recent and “in the feed.” Evergreen is forgotten or set aside for that quick bump in viewership that already turned away the position last week. 

On the flipside, a mature long-term strategy with various levels of video sophistication would look like this:

  • The campus environment, student life, and other external factors (e.g., live events and athletic games) are captured regularly to stay up on the season and semester. A refresh of max. 2 full days of production time would be required here at a TBD cadence.
  • Big informational pushes require another block of production time outside of the regular updates students now expect.
  • Admissions-focused media should be tackled using the full spectrum, from quick-to-make TikTok videos to large-budget 4K cinematic scales that push through. Stories can be one-offs or find themselves interwoven between the various durations and formats. With cinematic productions and a high bar of professionalism, creative teams can really develop fleshed out backstories, what’s at stake, and hit those emotional triggers on queue.
  • Finally, colleges can rely on the right video 1,000 different ways to keep alumni engaged and donating. Not enough “a day in the life of” productions are done, showing students ways to drop into a profession, and vice-versa. After all, seeing is believing! Maybe notalgia could be used to get donation numbers up…

A second irony is that video production can inherently produce more sizzles and teaser content than the largest in-house marketing team behind Canva ever could. Sitting behind a desk and using the ol’ archive only does so much, as we saw with the pandemic… And that is what got us here in the first place.

With video teams, you can get 600+ 4K shots in the span of a few days. Each “shot” contains 20+ frames per second and are likely to last ~30 seconds each. This equates to 360,000 4K frames with the most conservative figures. This doesn’t even factor in the hundreds of behind-the-scenes (BTS) imagery you could recycle into future posts. All from 2-3 production days having three vetted and highly-qualified cinematographers and directors on your campus. 

Here is a compilation of b-roll we assembled for this post:

Due to the varied nature of the activities, our editors are also able to split the screen in half and show different sports side-by-side. This ensures relevancy throughout and reduces drop off. 

One could also adjust the frame size of the video playback, making it fit nicely inside a Twitter post, TikTok video, or IG reel for greater shareability. Clients are often shocked when their IG reel post gets 1,500 views in the first 10 minutes (sometimes)... Without any special treatment. Because these platforms have audiences there right now.

Getting the video made is the most critical part of any marketing campaign or strategy in 2022, period. Going to straight outreach first will not produce the same results. Why? Because you’ll need something to pull people into the messaging on the handout or door hanger. People now expect a QR code to take them to a next-step CTA/media asset.

In conclusion, college students want to see others engaged too.

They want to feel like there’s a purpose to this beyond the abstract of a better future… What’s better now? Video can answer this question and be there right at the right moment, inside the living room or dining room, where the real decisions are made.

If you want to explore a future video at your college, get in touch!

Call us at 833-981-2816.