The way that we obtain and consume information has changed significantly over the years. We want our information accessed quickly and efficiently. We want to be wowed and intrigued, as our attention spans are much shorter. We want the content we consume to be personalized to our needs. All of these interactions influence our purchase decisions and the way we feel toward various brands.
When you consider that today’s college-bound students have grown up online, you can understand why their expectations are going to be higher than we realize. If the way we access and digest information is changing, imagine the standards that high school juniors and seniors have.
Why Content Matters for Higher EDU
Prospective colleges students aren’t going to be impressed because you have a website they can visit or a blog you contribute to once in awhile. They’re not going to want to follow you on Facebook just because you have a profile. You need to sell your college or university – and not just in terms of an application. You need to sell the image of your higher institution and why it’s worth a second look.
The most direct, economical and effective way to reach your audience is through content. Not just any standard content pieces, but a range of materials that fit into a broader content marketing strategy. Content ideas include:
Social media posts
Let’s take a more in depth look at why content marketing is good for higher EDU.
Prospective Students are Always Connected
Today’s young people have grown up with the internet. They aren’t intimidated by it, and if anything, they have learned to tune out conventional advertising methods. This means that your higher institution has to find ways to cut through the clutter and reach potential students on a higher level. Good for you, your audience is there. You just have to find creative ways to reach them.
Prospective college students actively search, discover and engage with universities online. They want to explore their options and get an idea of what the college application process will be like for them. By offering the right types of content at the right time, you can give potential students what they are looking for and begin to build a relationship.
Imagine how valuable it would be for a student interested in a sociology major to be provided with a top 10 list of career options and their salaries. Or, consider a prospect who is scared to move away from home, and all of a sudden comes an uplifting video about campus life from the perspective of your current students.
The college selection process involves a lot of research and comparisons, but it also involves emotion. Be sure to tap into the emotional aspects of this process so that your prospects feel something when they see your brand name.
Content Tells Your Brand Story
Some prospective college students have admitted that they have a difficult time narrowing down higher institutions because they all look very similar. If you take a look at your web presence compared to other schools like yours, you might see exactly what they are talking about.
With college being such a major investment, many higher institutions are simply afraid to be too different. They need to find a balance between making their campus look warm and welcoming while also being prestigious and academically promising. It’s hard to put fun or uniqueness into the mix, so many schools end up falling flat.
Fortunately, content is an excellent way to add some spark to your college or university and separate you from your competition. More specifically, use content to tell your brand’s story. Is there anything interesting about your school’s roots? Have you given at-risk students a chance and they’ve succeeded? Does your school bring value to the community in terms of student volunteers, internships and more?
By providing your community with relevant, informative content about your institution, you can tell your story and differentiate yourself from other schools so that you’re not lumped into a broad category.
The Content is Already There
Even if you are sold on the idea of creating more content for your college or university, you might be wondering where to start. How are you going to find the time to produce all of this content? Where are you going to find topics that students are interested in? Well, you’re in luck. Most of what you need is right under your nose.
Most colleges and universities have a ton of content and don’t even realize it. Think about all of the materials that your brand name is on:
Rather than letting your brochures sit in the administration office collecting dust, turn these types of works into digital content. The information can be updated with new statistics and supporting research, as well as fresh images, social icons and URLs.
When repackaging your content, use multiple channels to promote it. For instance, a whitepaper or faculty research may be best shared with your LinkedIn audience, while a bright, interactive infographic is ideal for your Facebook audience. Using the various targeting tools on social media, you can easily get the right content into the right hands so that it’s more than just interesting but valuable as well.
As we wrap up 2016, think about the goals that you hope to see your college or university reach in the coming year – increased enrollment, enhanced brand awareness, more alumni involvement. We’re sure that a well-structured content marketing strategy can help you get there.
Getting a second look at your content strategy is never a bad idea, either. It can give you a fresh perspective on what you could be doing better to reach your goals. As a matter of fact, the work might already be done for you! A bit of repackaging might be all you need to differentiate your higher institution.