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College Student Marketing: How to Make the Perfect Video

By collegemktgrp | July 24, 2019 | Brands/Advertisers

One of the strongest digital marketing trends in recent years is the rise of video. YouTube garners 5 billion plays every day. Over on Facebook, users are watching 100 million hours of video a day. Not to mention Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and the increasingly popular social media “stories.”

Video is a powerful way to reach the college market, a demographic that spends more time on YouTube than any other age group. The stats prove it:
• Video results in 66% more leads than other forms of content.
• Companies that utilize video see a 54% boost in brand awareness.

Video engages, entertains, and tells a story. In marketing, that means showing potential customers the personality of your brand, the people and passion behind your products, and connecting with the viewer’s emotions to build trust and loyalty.

If your next video marketing campaign is going to be a smash with college students, you’ll need to produce the kind of videos they want to engage with — videos that are short, fun, and more about the story than the product.

From creating fun, mobile-first videos to telling compelling stories that connect quickly, here are our tips for how to make marketing videos to engage with college students online.

Focus on the Story, Not the Product

When scripting your video, remember that above all else, it needs to be compelling for college students to watch. No one wants to watch you yelling “Buy! Buy! Buy!” for 30 seconds, as this won’t work and will also make you seem insane. Not a good look for your brand.

Your videos should always tell an emotionally resonant story. For college students, there are some options for the kinds of stories you can tell through your videos:

The Narrative Story

  • A funny or emotional story, like a mini-movie, that entertains. It should align with your brand values and the mission of your company. At the end, when your logo appears, viewers understand what your brand stands for.
  • A narrative that takes place within the college context (“First Day on Campus”, “The Big Exam is Today and I Forgot to Study!”) is an excellent way to speak directly to college students’ interests and problems.
  • You don’t need to say, “Shop now!” at the end. You’ve created an important touchstone that helps readers get to know and trust your brand.

The Helpful Story

  • This is content that aims to help the viewer, and can take the shape of tutorials and how-to videos.
  • Your content should provide a solution for an issue within the college experience — whether that be budgeting, time management, studying, or assembling a tricky piece of furniture for the dorm.
  • The story isn’t directly in the video itself. Rather, the result is the story — a student with a problem looks for help and voila! They find it through your expertise. If building trust is the goal, then mission accomplished.

The See What Happens Story

  • This kind of video doesn’t come with a script. Instead, you film an event and get the viewer interested in “seeing what happens.”
  • This means putting your product out into the real world and seeing how it performs, and how people respond to it.
  • The story is automatically compelling because the college student must keep watching to find out what happens — the “Will It Blend?” videos are exactly what we’re talking about: “We stuck an iPhone into a blender and you won’t believe what happened!” Yeah, you’re gonna watch that.

No matter what kind of video you make, all your content should play a part in telling your brand story. That means why you do what you do, and what sets you apart from all the other guys.

Check Out the Competition

Before you push record, take a look at what your competition is doing.

For starters, you want to make sure you’re not producing similar content to theirs. But on top of that, look for what they’re doing right, and what they’re doing wrong.

Which videos in your market are getting engagement, shares, and clicks by college students? Make a note of the characteristics of your competitors’ successful videos, and think of ways to incorporate those attributes into your video.

If funny videos are getting more traction than serious ones, consider focusing on a light-hearted approach. But don’t lean too far in any direction that is outside of your brand voice and mission.

Perfect Your Opening

We have short attention spans online, and college students are particularly demanding when it comes to keeping them engaged. This means that the first 5-10 seconds are the most important moments of your video.

If you don’t give college students a reason to keep watching in those brief moments, you’ll lose them.

Your video needs to start with a strong message so the viewer asks: “What’s going on here?” or “What’s going to happen next?”

Keep It Fun

Nobody really wants to watch a boring video. No matter your audience, fun sells.

College students are more likely to keep watching your video if it’s fun. They spend a lot of their time with their heads in books. When they open Snapchat or Facebook, they’re looking to take a load off.

How you interpret that into your own video script is dependent on your brand. Fun can mean upbeat with a catchy song (in a style popular with your target audience), or it can be super out-there, like this ad from Conoco.

The point is this: Don’t be afraid to loosen up with your marketing videos! If your video is fun to make, it’ll probably be fun to watch.

Make It Mobile-First

If you take away anything from this blog, make it be this point: Most college students are going to see your video on their smartphone through mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Your video MUST be mobile friendly.

30% of college age adults make at least one purchase a week on their phone. Your video could be the beginning of the funnel that leads them to becoming a customer.

The marketing lingo for this sort of thing used to be “mobile-friendly”, meaning it’s built for a desktop/laptop browser experience, but works fine on a smartphone or tablet. But now we say go mobile-first.

Your video should be made for viewing on mobile devices, with the perk that it also looks fine on a more traditional screen. Here are some tips to make your video mobile-first:

Format for each platform

  • Produce a video then format it in different ways to fit the platforms you’ll be publishing it on.
  • For example, a standard wide-screen video is fine on Facebook, but you’ll need a vertically-oriented one for your Instagram story.

Make it short

  • College students are likely to be watching your video on a platform that offers plenty of other distractions — whether it’s scrolling through Instagram or clicking on a recommended video on YouTube.
  • Consider the 15-second video. Everything from deodorant commercials to blockbuster movie trailers are getting the uber-short treatment these days. If you can tell your story in just 15 seconds (or less!), you should try to.
  • Plan a video that can be edited into different lengths and still work. Or maybe it’s one concept with scripts of varying lengths, like a short joke in one version and a more drawn out and compelling build up to a punchline in another.

Produce for a Small Screen

  • Your video needs to be clear on a small screen. Details and tiny fonts will be lost at this scale, so produce accordingly.

Include a Call-To-Action

Even though your video probably won’t be selling a product directly, never pass up the chance to offer a CTA to a viewer. This could be as simple as directing them to your company website or to a free download at the end of your video.

If you’re worried about people sticking with you until the very end of your video, think of creative ways to include a CTA mid-video. Just be sure that it fits in with the story, and doesn’t kill the flow.

Get Your Video Title, Tags, and Captions Right

You’ve put in the planning, production, shooting and editing, and now you’re sitting on a surefire hit. But you’ve still got to figure out how to get eyeballs on it.

There are a lot of technical details that brands can get wrong when uploading their video that may hurt its chances of getting seen.

First of all, your video title should be compelling, easy-to-understand, and include strong keywords that align with your target audience. The same goes for your video description or caption, and tags.

Using relevant keywords as much as possible is part of how you can optimize your video for search engines and social media platforms, putting your content in front of as many college students as possible.

This is where College Marketing Group can help. Digital marketing with video is one of the foundational pillars of our expertise.

Our multi-faceted approach to marketing your video to college students includes data-driven SEO, SEM, targeted social media advertising, and email targeting by school, what year they’re in, degree, and more.

Learn about getting more video views with College Marketing Group »

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