Using video to engage prospective families

Video content is growing rapidly in popularity. It’s a great way to engage with prospective parents and students and a valuable tool in your school’s marketing mix. Here are our top tips for video marketing success.

Why should your school use video marketing?

Video content captures the attention of prospective parents and students in ways that other media cannot. It allows you to represent the ethos of your school and reaches your audience instantly. Having a video on your homepage can help to increase your visitor conversions and also boost your search performance. Google owns YouTube, so video content hosted on YouTube ranks well on Google and supports your website’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

What makes good video content for schools?

The preconceived idea that video production is costly often puts schools off video marketing. But not all video content needs to be filmed by a professional videographer.

High quality footage can be filmed on a phone with a good enough camera and edited in-house. School events such as concerts, sports days and trips can be captured in this way. ‘Behind the scenes’ tours of your school capturing everyday school life can also be filmed on a phone. You could make video content demonstrating your curriculum such as mini crafts videos from the art department or science experiment ‘how-tos’ as well. Teachers make brilliant video presenters so enlist their help.

However, there are some instances where professional marketing videos could be worth investing in. These include a promotional school ‘commercial’, explainer videos, a headteacher’s welcome video, and a school tour that can look impressive and beautiful across your school website.

How to make an engaging video…

Most people will watch video content on their phones, so short and engaging videos tend to capture people’s attention best.

Make sure your video content is authentic. If you’re filming vox pops (interviews), make sure you choose staff and pupils who are passionate about the school and will speak confidently and clearly. Testimonials from parents and pupils shouldn’t be scripted otherwise they will seem fake. Consider diversity in your videos and include a considered variety of people representing the rich stories of your community that connect with a wide audience.

Using video hosting platforms that are mobile-friendly is also very important.

How to plan your video content…

Before you make your video content, sit down and plan your video ideas. Think about your key messages and what you want to get across. Think about where this video will sit – social media posts are made very differently from website banner videos. Consider your video marketing goals and what you wish to achieve with the video to set some KPIs and ensure the investment gets a satisfactory return – particularly for professional video.

Consider the video style. If your video content is going to be structured, you might want to think about creating a storyboard. You may also want to enlist the help of a presenter or a narrator or line up some people to interview. Make sure these people are briefed properly before they start and you obtain the appropriate permissions. A script can be the most important and impactful part of the video, especially if it acts as a voice-over – take time to create this, get feedback from your community and ensure it closely aligns with your school’s brand and messaging.

It’s a good idea to scout your filming location before you start too. Ensure any classrooms or grounds that you are using are clean and tidy and show your school off well.

Filming your video footage…

It’s a good idea to start filming your video content in the morning, if possible, to make the most of the natural light which can feel bright, fresh and flatter faces. An early start can also help maximise your time in case filming takes longer than expected.

Think carefully about the acoustics as this will affect your entire video audio quality. Make sure you don’t film at a time when there is a lot of background noise from another classroom or lesson going on nearby.

Make sure any staff or parents in the video are dressed appropriately. Avoid clothing with pinstripes, houndstooth, fine checks, or herringbone as they create a moire effect on the camera, where they appear to strobe or dance – not only is this irritating to look at but could be dangerous for those suffering from epilepsy so you would need to add a warning. Boldly patterned clothing can be distracting and shiny fabrics can reflect the light. Bright, single-coloured clothes on a plain or contrasting coloured background work best.

Give presenters and interviewees time to warm up on camera. Avoid relying on a video script or using an autocue approach as this can seem unnatural. If you wanted certain subjects covered in order, you could put up a few words as a prompt to help them.

If you’re filming your video content on your phone, it’s a good idea to use a tripod or gimbal (a handheld pivoting phone holder). Consider your appropriate camera equipment careful and make sure everything is fully charged the day before and packed safely in easy reach. Check the framing before you start and consider using different camera angles. If you need to re-film certain sections or scenes, think about continuity. Keep the framing and angles the same and make sure nothing in the video has changed.

Video editing tips and tricks…

Keep your video content short and engaging, if you don’t capture people’s attention within the first 6-10 seconds, they are unlikely to keep watching.

Use animated graphics at the start and end of your video to reinforce your school brand and introduce the subject of the video or the key message. Captions with names and titles for interviewees or presenters will also make your video look more professional. Subtitles support accessibility. Youtube will add them automatically for you but they aren’t always accurate, so we suggest double-checking them.

If your film features students, make sure to safeguard them by avoiding using their full names and having their parents’ written permission to participate.

Transitions and music can help to make your video more fun and engaging. Make sure you have the correct permissions if you are using music though as most music is copyrighted. You can find stock music or stock footage online or you can purchase a song if you want more choice and quality. If you are working with a video production team, they will provide this for you, but you should tell them what you’re looking for to give them some direction.

Video marketing strategy: how to reach your target audience…

Prospective parents and students will engage with your video content on your digital and social channels.

On your school website, a video on your homepage is good for search engine results pages. It also helps to engage your visitors and move them down the marketing funnel. If you plan to post regular video content, you can set up a video gallery page on your site. You could also share video content in a blog post. When you are embedding a video, turn off autoplay as this can be annoying for people who visit your school website regularly, and also makes for a slower page load time which affects your search engines ranking.

You can also share your video on your school’s social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Some social media channels have their own video editing tools. For example, you can film and edit video content in Instagram using Reels and Stories. You can also make ‘Live’ video content in the app. Make sure to link back to your school website or better yet, a special landing page to capture leads.

It’s also a good idea to set up a YouTube channel for your school as part of your social media strategy. YouTube is Google’s second search engine and the second most used search engine in the world, so hosting video content on YouTube will boost your search rankings. Hosting videos on YouTube also means that you don’t need to worry about large video files taking up space on your school website server. YouTube also has useful video analytics tools to see video views, watch time and drop off which can support your video marketing efforts.

Vimeo is another site you can host your video content on. You can create a Vimeo account in addition to YouTube. This will help you to widen your audience reach and make good use of the digital content and stunning videos which you have invested in.

Open days and video marketing

Videos are also a useful marketing tool for open days and school shows. You can add a QR code of your high quality video to your printed marketing materials, or even burn your video content onto a disk or flash drive which can be given out to prospective parents.

During the pandemic, some schools have also filmed a full open day for prospective parents and students who have been unable to attend an in-person event. This digital content has allowed them to reach an even wider audience, including international parents who might not have been able to come to a show or open day anyway.

Here are three examples of schools that have created virtual open days or stunning video content to showcase their school to prospective parents and students:

Malmesbury School Virtual Open Day – YouTube

This is Halcyon London International School – YouTube

Southbank International School – London’s leading IB World School – YouTube

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