Building a Content Strategy for Your School or University
Websites, blogs, social media. There’s all manner of ways you can and should use to grab the attention of prospective and current students and parents. Wrapping your head around different methods to ramp up engagement with your institution’s branding might seem challenging, but the variety of content types allows you to be flexible to achieve your content marketing goals.
That’s why building an effective content marketing strategy is key to attaining optimum engagement with your target audience. From organizing an efficient publishing calendar to distributing content, let us guide you through our top tips to developing the perfect content marketing strategy for your school or university.
1. Technical Jargon
Let’s first get down to the nitty and gritty details behind your content marketing strategy. Although creating the right content in the right formats might seem like the most crucial part, analyzing, generating, and promoting your content are equally important. These aspects of the process let you evaluate what content works and what doesn’t.
1.1 Content Analysis
With content analysis, you can see what your content is doing, whom it is reaching, and how you can outperform others. This is where you can see the data behind your creative ambition and view statistically how well your content is reaching your audience.
- How website and social media channels compare to other competitors
- Most successful vs least successful content
- Comprehensive inventory to know which content and media are driving the most traffic to your website
1.2 Content Generation
This is where the cogs start whirring, the engine starts driving. The creative process of generating content helps you see what you want your audience to gain from your content.
- Effective content creation strategy, approval process, and publication calendar
- Compelling and optimized content – web pages, blog posts, images, videos, newsletters, press releases, paid promotional material
- Share relevant existing content that benefits the audience and overall value of your web presence
1.3 Content Promotion
Our final point is how you share your content to boost your SEO rankings. How your target audience can reach you virtually and share your content is how you can see how often people are engaged with your branding.
- Distribution to other websites and syndication on social media channels
- Maximise reach and return on investment by repackaging selected content through webinars, infographics, and blog posts
- Engage and interact with community and track success of campaigns with analytics
2. Website Content
Now that we’ve discussed the technicalities of content, let’s begin with the most important part of your campaign – your website. Your website is the first thing students see, therefore it has to strike the right chord at first glance.
This is where everything you want your school or university to be known for has to be presented. Your most important information must be clearly presented, whilst the rest of your content has to be easy to find. School news, photo galleries, and updates are just the beginning of your main page. Quotes from parents and pupils, Ofsted ratings, and school results statistics should all be featured in an appealing way. Consequently, this will highlight why your school is the best place for parents to entrust their children with your education. Scotts Park Primary School features all of these aspects clearly and coherently, including links to the school’s Twitter feed.
Links to social media channels promoting regular updates should be at the top of your website. This is especially important when incorporating a social media crisis strategy, for instance. In times of emergency, parents and pupils need an effective way of accessing up to date information in resolving incidents.
Universities have more information to provide, so simplicity is integral to your institution’s online presence. Well-organized content easily communicates with your target audience and compels them to find out more.
Consistency and frequency are vital in attracting more prospective parents and students. This is particularly relevant regarding blogging. Blogging involves your students with your content marketing strategy because multiple students can write articles about your school’s achievements. Letting your students tell their stories adds to the authenticity of the virtual environment you want to create.
School trips, awards and competitions are all topics of interest when attracting new students and parents. Parents will see the plethora of opportunities available at your school and the lengths you go to including all students. Prospective students can better visualise themselves at your school as they recognise your school’s aims in cultivating a welcoming environment.
Additionally, blogs about your school’s activities regarding specific social issues will demonstrate your school’s efforts in helping the wider community. From mental health charity fundraisers to sustainability projects, students will be further immersed in your school’s values.
Universities can also benefit from this method of generating content. The Student Blog at the University of London has articles designed to help others navigate their way through student life.
As mentioned at the beginning, frequency is key in maintaining social engagement with your target audience. Two blogs a week, for instance, will increase communication within the school about important and relevant talking points. Keeping material fresh and up to date will implement a functioning content strategy and strengthen links with the school community.
It goes without saying how important and representative images are of your school. Pupils enthusiastically engaging with academic and extra-curricular tasks paints an excellent picture of your school’s ideals and dedication to learning. High quality, recent photos are a magnetic force in drawing attention to your social media stories. Images are a highly effective way of proving to your target audience that you are committed to your pupils’ self-development. Pupils are the face of your school, so make your target audience visually aware of their achievements. Keeping these images up to date will maintain a constant stream of engagement with parents and pupils. Langley Park School for Boys represents a wide range of activities on offer through high quality and candid photos.
Universities can use images to their advantage when displaying the variety of communities and cultures welcomed at their establishment. From those interested in joining new societies to those arriving from abroad, images of opportunities and events are incredibly important. Seeing students from different backgrounds socialising and taking up various hobbies will persuade prospective students that your university has a place for everyone.
Images of campus grounds will also pave the way for students to participate in photography challenges on social media. Accompanied with shareable and recognisable hashtags, these photos will publicize your university’s facilities and buildings, consistently motivating students to feel proud of their educational institution.
Why don’t we bring those images to life? Videos are a fantastic way to further prove to your target audience how dedicated you are to teaching and learning. There is a myriad of aspects of school life you can choose to film, so feel free to be as flexible and creative with this content marketing strategy. A series of videos on the main site for Fortismere School features a range of activities students can participate in.
Testimonials from parents and students will persuade more parents to enrol their children at your school. Prospective parents will value first-hand accounts from students, as they can subsequently assure parents to trust your school.
New Year 7s will be feeling incredibly nervous about the prospect of moving to a much bigger school. Therefore, videos of current pupils explaining how they adjusted to a much more intense learning environment will instil confidence. These same Year 7s will be acquainted with subjects not known at primary school level. A short video of some taster content from Home Economics or Spanish will give prospective students a flavour of their secondary school experience.
Featuring various teachers explaining their relevant subjects and roles will benefit that trustworthy impression you want to cultivate. Parents can see who will be teaching their students and understand whom they can go to with any queries.
University websites featuring a promotional recruitment film like the one we made for The University of Chicago Booth School of Business will encourage students to enrol with you.
Both schools and universities can incorporate this ingenious method into their content marketing strategy. These short, creative, data-rich images provide clear and concise information relating to your educational establishment and social issues.
For GCSE pupils, infographics summarising revision topics in simple slides are a really easy and effective way of keeping pupils motivated throughout the exam period. Other topics can cover mental health practices, revision tips, or even branch out to different school-based themes, such as Anti-Bullying Week. Therefore, they can make students aware of various projects at school combating climate change or give pupils a weekly news round-up to keep them engaged with the world around them. With more and more young people becoming interested in politics and current affairs, this feature will help support those pursuits and encourage important conversations. You can find lots of ideas for your school’s infographics here from elearninginfographics.com.
Universities can also make good use of infographics by keeping students up to date with their active engagement with social issues. Simple steps illustrating your operative methods in making campus a safe space for the LGBTQI+ community, or addressing misogynistic behaviour will reassure students that their voices are being heard and they are welcomed by the university’s values. These infographics can be publicised on Instagram because they are easily accessible and shareable. As a result, students can quickly and effectively absorb information and encourage others to get involved in taking action.
Instagram is a popular social media platform for infographics for another reason. You can organize specific social issues into reels, therefore making it easy for students to clearly and quickly your various active strategies in tackling students’ concerns. Have a look at the Instagram account for the University of Leeds to see how they have utilised this feature effectively.
Although paperwork is quickly being rendered futile in the wake of increased digital content, a simple newsletter can help gain a lot of visibility for your school or university. As a termly instalment from the headteacher or vice-chancellor, a newsletter can be a straightforward summary of accomplishments and promote news and upcoming events. The headteacher or vice-chancellor directly writing to parents and pupils conveys a more personalised touch and demonstrates how invested the principals of your institution are in maintaining a connection with the school community.
A newsletter doesn’t just have to be a physical copy. Providing a downloadable copy from the main website will still keep parents in the loop about various goings-on without the added paperwork.
A nice touch to said newsletter would be a “Special Mentions” section whereby students who have performed notably well in either academic or non-academic pursuits are acknowledged and rewarded. This would boost students’ confidence and assure parents that their students’ education is on the right track. Celebrating students is the best way to raise students’ drive in making the most of their schooling and see their potential. Woodside High School has digital access to termly newsletters, which also celebrate selected students.
Newsletters can also work at universities by advertising future events and guest lecturers that could inspire students. Reminders of exam timetables, coursework deadline weeks, and study tips could prove to be beneficial information, particularly during the summer term. As part of your content marketing strategy, it’s always important to keep all content relevant to your target audience, so make sure that every section applies to the current term and issues about it. The newsletters from the School of Economics at the University of Nottingham cover a wide range of relevant topics for Economics students and are all digital.
Your approach to your content marketing strategy for your establishment will be your recipe for success. Spending time perfecting your methods will result in increased engagement with your target audience. Therefore, no efforts will be wasted in coming up with the ideal content marketing strategy. With so many aspects to choose from, you can be as creative and flexible as you like, involving your student community and strengthening links to parents.
Following our tips is just the start. Over the last decade, we’ve partnered with 100s of clients to produce 1000s of award-winning videos and animations across the education sector. Give us a call to get our creative partnership started.