6 ways to invigorate your college website with video

June 27, 2012 by
shaky dolly

time to get the cameras rolling!

I've written elsewhere about why online video is now a must-have for colleges and universities.

So let's say you're convinced it's a good idea but aren't sure where to start.

Here are 6 ideas that should get you going.

1. testimonials to connect with prospective students

Student video testimonials are simple to produce, and should be used liberally throughout your site.

Your visitors want to get a feel for what your school is really like, and videos of current and former students are one of the best ways to accomplish that.

Authenticity is the name of the game, so avoid anything formal, stilted or scripted, and don't worry about high production quality.

You can interview students with typical FAQs like 'what are the biggest challenges in 1st year,' 'what do students do for fun at xyz college,' etc., and then edit yourself out of the final cut.

Or just ask students to shoot a short video of themselves on their own smartphone or webcam talking about what they like best about your school.

One caveat - not everybody wants to watch video, so make sure plenty of written testimonials are also highly visible on your site.

2. events coverage to strut your stuff

Got a charismatic commencement speaker?  Successful service program in Nicaragua? Olympic pole vaulter?  Show them off with video.

This is where you'll usually want high production quality and skilled editors to ensure the end product is engaging.  Check out the 'Boston College Minute' series for some examples of how this can work.  Too bad they don't have some of these videos prominently displayed on their website!

You may also want to experiment with live-streaming popular events, and then placing an edited version on your website.

3. instructional videos for new students & FAQs

College is a daunting prospect for most new students.  Why not create a few videos that lead them step-by-step through the most common hurdles?

For instance, screen capture videos (interspersed with a few friendly faces of key staff members) can help students

  1. Apply for financial aid
  2. Book a campus tour
  3. Access help with study skills
  4. Perform basic library searches
  5. Change a course

4. showcase of student creativity

Flash mobs, lip dubs, and rap videos are always popular on college websites, although perhaps becoming predictable.  So why not push the envelope and show other expressions of student creativity?

This time-lapse video of a Stetson University chalk art contest is one engaging example of how to break out of the mold  with something a bit different.

Encouraging students to produce their own videos also opens up infinite possibilities.  Adam Brown has compiled a list of what he considers the 9 Best Student-Produced College Videos.

5. student-created ads

In what amounts to testimonials on steroids, Drexel University's Lebow College of Business is turning student words into advertising - literally.  Their 'Words I Live By' contest offers students the chance to win an iPad, network with the Dean, and appear in a bona fide advertisement in return for their '3 words'  on Lebow.

Not a bad use of a few minutes for students, and a great source of fresh ideas for Lebow.

6. bring your faculty to life

A college education is a huge investment, and both parents and students need to know that the teaching and mentorship available at your school is really worth it.

Rather than bragging about how great your academics are, show them.  Embed videos on your site that feature faculty

  • speaking passionately about their research
  • interacting with students in the classroom
  • doing good works in the community
  • talking from inside a book.  A few academics, for instance Douglas Frenkel, are experimenting with embedding videos in their books.  If you've got similar material, you could excerpt clips and put them on your website as a teaser.

How is your school using video on your website?  What are the barriers that keep you from doing more?  I look forward to your comments.

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Reinis Traidas via Compfight

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