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5 ways to use YouTube in higher education

May 28, 2019

A youtube logo Young kids like video. Most higher education institutions have a YouTube channel. And unlike other “social platforms” they tend to only have one YouTube channel.

YouTube is the second most used search engine – after parent company Google.

And as devices are fully adopted, YouTube offers a device agnostic way to tell a story.

So here at the 5 ways to reach students using YouTube.

#1. Video as SEO. 

In what can only be only be described as irony, URL’s don’t matter in YouTube. On Google, the URL is one of the main SEO factors: a search for your school turns up school.edu because the name is in the URL. I used to work at a University that shares a name with a toothpaste brand. But any search for “toothpaste brand” and school would turn up the school’s URL.

However, YouTube URL’s are gibberish.

That means all the SEO weight rests on the title, description and tags – in that order. Your job is to think about a title that best describes the video, then use the description to really nail the keywords.

The tittle of your video should answer a question that prospective students are asking Google. If it does, Google will return the video as an answer.

When making a video, ask two questions. The first is “how will people get here.” That is an SEO question. If your video answers a question students are asking, you’ll get traffic from search.

The second question is “what do I want people to do next?”

If the answer is visit my website, then add links in the description. And, for the love of pete, add a CTA in the actual video saying, “learn more about our dorms in the description of this video.”

(Remember: when adding a URL to your description, use https: to turn it into a link.)

Answering those two questions will make your videos work harder and better.

#2. Video as blog.

Some people were born to write, others were born to talk. The people who were born to write can write. The people who were born to talk can interview, or simply talk on YouTube.

Length doesn’t matter. It isn’t true that short videos do better on Google. It is never true that something is too long, people sat in a movie theater this year in record numbers to watch a 3 hour movie. It isn’t length, it is relevance. In a world where we are all one click away from something better, you need to hold onto your audience a little harder.

That doesn’t mean better production. Young people are used to talking heads on their phones. They are the FaceTime generation. You need to focus on answering the question from #1. Forget fancy production, instead, get to the point. If the answer takes 10 minutes, you didn’t think hard enough about the answer.

If you follow the instructions on #1, length won’t matter. Content will. And a call to action. Add it.

One tip: video takes excitement. If someone has a normal level of excitement in a video, that will come across as boring. People need to turn up their excitement. I’ve told people to exaggerate excitement. It makes the end product better.

#3. Video as response.

Videos as response are way under utilized ways to engage.  Use the second-most-used search engine to find videos about your topic and respond.

Your school has videos about your school on YouTube. Some are old, out of date, or just wrong. You can do one of two things, ignore it and hope people don’t see them, or respond. If there is a video that is winning of an out-of-date dorm room tour, make a response to it. Add it to the comments of the original.

#4. Video as internal training. 

YouTube allows for videos to be sharable with link. Use this feature to create “how to’s” for your school. You should  have HR how to’s, and even how to use the Intranet.

Because they are not large corporations, schools tend to be bad at on-boarding. Video can help this process. Training on tools, training on HR, shoot it all and some of it will end up being “why you should come and work here” videos.

#5. Video from a QR code.

If it was up to me, QR codes would never, ever take anyone to a website. They would play a video. Every single one of them.  Think about it: a video is device agnostic – even the first smartphones played YouTube.

Now with QR code readers on EVERY smartphone, we can get back to adding more to a website and/or a print piece. All iPhones have camera that is a QR code reader, and now so do all Android devices.

Please, please, please, think about what you want people to do after they watch your video. It should never be “let YouTube decide.”

Your turn: how are you using video? Did I miss some things. Got any advice?

Matt is the associate VP of Social and Digital Strategy at 3 Enrollment Marketing.

I do social and digital strategy sessions where I talk a lot more about Wikipedia and your SERP. If you’re interested, drop me a DM on Twitter.

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