Some school administrators understand social media's power as part of their marketing strategy. Others think it is merely an adjunct to their other marketing tools. Still, others think they know how to use social media and have no clue how to use it effectively. This short article is aimed squarely at small to medium-sized private schools which cannot afford marketing staff and expensive marketing programs. My observations and suggestions are rooted in many years of observing how small to medium-sized private schools manage their marketing. Some do very well. Others don't seem to understand how to manage it.
Successful marketing at any level requires persistence and consistency. Professionals know that. Indeed that is what you are buying when you hire a professional marketing firm to design your website or handle your social media strategy. With this as our backdrop, let's explore a couple of low-cost yet effective ways in which we can make your YouTube Channel more effective.
My training and education as a classical musician and technology professional have taught me to be a control freak. I would never have dreamed of letting my choirs wander all over the place musically. I knew how I wanted a piece of music to sound. I controlled all aspects of my choristers' performance to produce the desired result. That is what you have to do with your school's YouTube channel. You will receive much free advice as you begin to post your videos. "We need a video for this." or "Dr. Smith's biology class dissected a frog last week. Can we post a video of that?" The ideas and suggestions will be without limit.
This video is one of several helpful 'How Tos' covering just about every aspect of setting up and organizing your YouTube channel.
This is where control comes in. You have heard the expression, "Stay on message!" That is the kind of control I have in mind. Sift through all the suggestions that students, parents, alumni, and staff give you. Thank them all. Then post the material you feel best reinforces the message you and the trustees have for the school.
Keep it short
21st-century attention spans are notoriously short. Remember that when you are tempted to post a video over 5 minutes. You will encourage people to view your entire presentation when you divide it into short sections. For example, say you want to post a video showing a day in your students' life. You could post a 30-minute video. Unfortunately, you will lose most of your viewers after 5 minutes. Instead, why not create six 5 minute videos, each with a specific focus? Videos showing breakfast, the first class, an assembly, and so on make that presentation much easier for 21st viewers to enjoy.
Keep it organized. Keep it fresh.
Organizing the videos which you post on YouTube allows prospective parents and students to follow your materials in the sequence that you have chosen. You use folders on your computer to organize your documents, photos, and other information. That's all a playlist is. It is YouTube's name for a folder. And it functions the same way. For example, if you want to present videos of your sports teams, create a playlist called "Sports." Organizing your videos this way prevents your YouTube channel from looking like a yard sale.
Here's how to create a playlist.
After all, you are a class act. Your school is well-regarded. So make sure your YouTube reflects those same high standards of presentation. All it takes is a little planning. You can use Google documents or spreadsheets to create the structure you want for your channel. It requires a bit of effort, but it just makes sense to add the titles of each video on your channel to the appropriate playlist on your document or spreadsheet. The software will time stamp the entries so that a few months from now, you can see at a glance when you posted your videos.
YouTube offers plenty of excellent tutorials to help you organize your channel. Take advantage of these free resources.
Archive older material
As the number of playlists on your channel grows, you will need to consider setting up a playlist for older materials. Name it "Archives" or something similar. You still want these older playlists available. You don't want them to get in the way of your newer materials.
Present essential information
Know your audience. Understand who you are trying to reach. That will also help you organize your playlists and the videos within them. Let's say, for example, you unexpectedly find yourself with a vacancy or two after the semester has begun. You could set up a playlist named "Late Admissions." Then post a video about how late admissions work. Be sure to include the application, testing, and financial information which pertain to your late admissions procedures.
This kind of information will catch some parents' eyes as they review schools, wondering where they will find a school for their children in the middle of the academic year. She has just been made Divisional Vice-President at a major company in your area. It is a wonderful promotion, but it means moving from another state. Suddenly your school will be on her list of possible solutions to her education dilemma.
Don't assume anything.
Tied in with presenting essential information we just touched on is the importance of never assuming anything. You know your school and education inside out and backward, and other laypeople do not have your level of expertise. Include playlists and videos to explain the workings of just about anything you can think of at your school. If the 3rd of October is Founder's Day, create a playlist and post a video annually. These are your school's traditions. They are a big deal. Your YouTube channel ensures that everybody knows what makes your school special.
Social media has unleashed a flood of comments. I never knew that we had so many experts out there. Just read the New York Times or Washington Post comments to see what I mean. Consequently, folks are accustomed to weighing in with their opinion, whether it is valid. So it will be with your YouTube channel. Some schools don't want comments for all sorts of reasons. I am inclined to encourage comments but moderate them regularly. Now and then, some malcontent decides to post a nasty comment. Just delete it.
You and I have just scratched the surface of how to harness the power of YouTube as part of your school's marketing strategy. There are plenty of excellent resources on YouTube to help you develop your channel. The adage applies here as it does with so many things: "Plan your work. Work your plan."
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