Our partners in education have a wide variety of storytelling abilities ranging from the tactical side of shooting/editing video to the visionary work of communication strategy. No matter your skill set, storytelling is one of the most effective ways to communicate your message.
When it comes to digital communications, visual content reaches far more people than written posts. In fact, when both video and text are available on the same page, 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service.
We’ve got our pulse on trends for school marketing this year. Dig in and help yourself! Hopefully this collection will help spark ideas for your next project.
Mobile first videos
In 2017, the number of videos watched on mobile devices surpassed desktop views. Makes sense, being that most of us carry our phones with us 24/7. This is why videos optimized for mobile users are more important than ever. With an uptick in people watching video content on narrow, vertical screens, so long are the days of needing to shoot landscape video footage on our phones. Square and portrait oriented videos, large graphics and captions are all things to move toward this year, if you aren’t doing it already.
With 85% of people viewing video on Facebook with the volume off, we created this video for Spring Lake Park Schools, by simply relying on visuals, text and special effects to tell the story of the construction and opening of a new elementary school.
Thought leadership through video
A video of someone talking directly into the camera is extremely captivating and also one of the easiest videos to create. This type of thought leadership content is easy to digest and learn from.
Whether through a platform like Facebook Live or short format vlogging like Instagram stories, filming a candid video with leaders in your school district is an effective way to showcase their unique perspective on topics your community wants to learn about. This will help humanize your district brand while also building transparency and trust between the school district and its community. Check out the videos Joe Sanfelippo posts on Twitter as he walks to work as a school superintendent.
Think of the number of school newsletters that never get read. Podcasting in public schools can be a great way to get information out and potentially attract new families to the school district.
One of the great powers of podcasting is the attention is attracts. Text and video require a person’s full attention – they need to sit patiently, doing just one thing. Podcasting, on the other hand, can be done in otherwise wasted time, or alongside a routine activity.
An audio podcast can be the definitive source for school stories and events. Celebrating the accomplishments of staff and students with interviews can be a great way to share what the district is up to.
We have a podcast of our own in the works, which will be launching in March. The Sparkwheel Podcast will be a space where education leaders talk about some of the creative things they are doing to impact communications and student achievement. More to come!
Reaching diverse audiences
The demographics for many school districts are different today than they were just five years ago. It’s important to remember the need to create content that is accessible to multiple audiences. This can mean having closed caption files available in English and other languages spoken by your community. We use the website Rev.com to caption most of our videos. At $1 per minute, it’s an inexpensive way to reach more people while adding a little bump to your SEO since the video becomes more searchable.
In this video we created for Harmony Adult Education, we tell the story of a woman who moved to the United States in 2010 who had a dream of earning her GED. We designed the video so text could appear in two languages.
Recurring video series
In addition to attracting new families, you also want to keep your current ones engaged. A recurring video series, such as White Bear Area Schools “The Week in 62.4 Seconds” series or a “Teacher of the Month” type series, can get viewers into the routine of watching regularly, if they find the content valuable. Arguably more important, we’ve seen recurring video series create hype and higher aspirations with internal audiences because they want to be featured as part of the district’s story.
Creating micro-targeted content
It can be tough to reach specific audiences, like students, with marketing content. Micro-targeting allows you to create content that is most relevant to your specific target audience. Whether that’s a sponsored post on Facebook, landing page content, or a blog post, relevant content leads to better SEO.
In this project we created for Bloomington Kennedy High School, we edited 10 second video clips that were given to students to share through their social media channels. With the short clips and the #TogetherWeSoar hashtag, we were able to effectively promote and gain student buy-in surrounding good sportsmanship through this campaign.
Using humor and personality
When done right, adding humor to content can be the best way to reveal brand personality. However, as we all know, it’s a fine line to walk. Humor is often a good addition to your social media toolbox. It makes your district memorable, invites conversation and improves shares, likes and retweets.
Referendums are not the most exciting topic to communicate. The eyes of many people start to glaze over when you start talking about an “operating levy” or a “cross-subsidy”. In this video for Rockford Area Schools, we created an analogy to make things a little more fun and easier for the average resident to understand.
There are so many platforms with different formulas as to what works on them. Long form stories for websites and community presentations, muted square videos for Facebook, short vertical videos for Instagram stories, the list goes on. More often than not, we are taking one set of footage and editing a story in two or three different ways. This same idea can be done with written content. Take a long-form blog from the district website and boil it down to an infographic for social media. Rather than continually creating new content, think about ways to repurpose stories for different channels.
Good luck. We can’t wait to see what you come up with this year!