Photography/Videography, Web Development

Short-Form Videos are Essential Tools for Engaging Today’s Potential Students

Almost 50% of students use YouTube to research potential schools

High school graduation rates flat. There a 2.5% drop in college enrollments and a general decline in requests for campus visits. Institutions of higher education must employ creative marketing techniques to lure students in the door among increased marketing competition. 


The most engaging marketing tool around is video. If you want to broaden your exposure and your conversions, you have to create and promote the use of video in every channel and at every part of the journey taken by prospective students. 


Short-form video is their preferred content format. Research shows that short video clips facilitate better memory recall and more efficient processing in the brain. Plus, more than 50% of those who watch videos less than 90 seconds in length watch all the way through. With pretty much every social media platform offering the ability to add video content, how can you use short-form video to engage current and prospective students?


Short-form videos: why they work and what to shoot


You feel your institution has a lot to offer, and are probably tempted to make videos full of beautiful campus shots, smiling students, and a voiceover highlighting classes, amenities, and future prospects. That’s great, and you can link to the longer videos on your website that do that. But for YouTube and other social platforms, it’s imperative you know what your audience is looking for if you want to engage them.


That’s important because 42% of teens use YouTube when they research potential colleges, and 38% said it played a large role in their final selection. 


Short-form videos fit today’s attention spans


So much information is in the palm of our hands with today’s mobile devices. This can increase our connection with the world, but unfortunately, it also creates a lot of competition for our attention. How many times were you doing something and received an alert on your phone? This means instant distraction and a sense of not knowing what to pay attention to when.


How is your attention span? It has probably dropped over time.


In 2000, the average attention span was a pitiful 12 seconds.  In 2020, the average human attention span was 8 seconds. 

You might be interested to know that the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. 


The loss of attention span is attributed to information overload and the physical effect of the internet on our brains. This lack of concentration is apparent on the major social media platforms, where Facebook users spend 2.5 seconds on a piece of content when they’re browsing from a desktop and 1.7 seconds on mobile. 


When it comes to YouTube videos, it’s recommended that videos are around two minutes long or less. 


The best content for short-form videos


You could do a whirlwind campus tour in two minutes. But don’t. Of the seven things students think about when they choose a college, what the campus looks like isn’t on the list. 


Some great ideas for short-form video content include:


A day in the life of a typical (or not typical) student:  Follow a student around for a day, and if you are targeting a particular demographic, be sure they fit it. Include shots of things that really matter, like transportation, classrooms, the campus bookstore and even dining options. Tour the dorm: Do a dorm tour with a student and be sure to highlight amenities like a gym or welcoming lounge area. Those who don’t live in the area or otherwise can’t visit in person will get to see where they’ll be living if they attend your school, which satisfies the curiosity of both students and parents.  Show off that impressive project: If your university has been involved in groundbreaking research, don’t just talk about it — show it. It could be anything from a new app to a robot or anything in between. Toot your own horn! Teach some life lessons: Navigating a new environment is always hard, so provide potential and incoming students with some insights from upperclassmen that will make the transition easier, and make them fun, with practical advice taken from commencement speeches. Answer the “where will I be in five years” question: Alumni success stories have a lot of credibility for prospective students when you’re trying to impress upon them the value of higher education. Be sure to show how education impacted their lives, not just their earning potential. 

Your short-form videos should, in a fun and engaging way, address some of those things that are top-of-mind among aspiring college students. These include academic quality, career and job opportunities, value-for-cost, and, very importantly, a feeling that they will fit in. 


By harnessing the power of video, you can push boundaries and use this fun, creative tool to capture imaginations and drive engagement. 


When they leave YouTube, send them to your incredibly informative website


What, your website isn’t incredible? We can fix that. 


You can count on KWALL to support the development of your higher ed website, help you implement a CMS, and support you while you use it. We can also help you create a maintenance and support plan that works so you can manage content through a content management system.


KWALL specializes in helping colleges and universities increase student engagement through the quality of their websites. Reach out and contact KWALL today to talk about how they can help you.