January 20, 2020
Institutions can brainstorm great ideas, hire the best writers, and even map out a dedicated content section for their website. But even with good stories, they fail to drive results.
When it comes to building your brand and creating content, solid writing is just part of the equation. In a world of new media platforms, increased competition, and decreased attention spans, savvy marketers are changing their strategies to create content that converts.
Start with these four tips to adjust the way you tell your brand story. You can also create a personalized content strategy for your institution with the help of our experts.
This first step is the most important. If you don’t know your audience, you’ll never be able to communicate with them effectively.
A common mistake is to oversimplify. Your audience can’t be everyone in the entire world, after all.
Take this example. You’re targeting traditional prospective students. You already know this ranges from high schoolers to young adults, around ages 16 to 24. This is still a large group—you’ll want to consider what makes you unique and ask some questions to learn who is most interested in your school.
Maybe you don’t offer on-campus housing. You’ll then know to cater your content to students in the surrounding area. Maybe you are a religiously affiliated school. Your audience may be more likely to be of that faith and interested in a values-driven education.
Thinking about academics, athletics, student life, flexibility, location, cost, and more, can all help you cultivate personas for your content.
Now that you know who is looking for your content, it’s time to think about what they’re seeking. In the content world, quality over quantity wins.
Leverage the personas you created. If you know your audience is likely to be 16- to 24-year-olds who don’t live on campus, you can better understand their needs and interests. They likely want flexibility in classes, easy commuting options, and ways to get involved on campus.
Once you have a few ideas, you may think about researching the way users speak and sprinkle that terminology into your writing. Keywords and relevant phrases help students organically find content on Google; the more relevant the search terms, the higher you will rank on search. In our example, you could consider longer phrases such as “colleges near me” or “colleges for commuters.”
You have an idea ready and you’re itching to write. But have you considered other delivery formats? Traditional students today have an eight-second attention span. This means long-form content might not be the best delivery method.
Consider your options. Are you hoping to show prospective students what your campus is like? Make a video! Are you trying to communicate complex tuition information? An infographic could help.
Don’t unnecessarily bog your audience down with paragraphs of content. If you do write content, make it evergreen. This can build long-term search relevance and provide valuable information to your audience.
And most importantly, no matter what avenue you choose—be engaging.
Your content is written; now what? Simply uploading a blog article to your site and waiting won’t cut it.
If you followed step three and crafted content such as video, your natural next step would to be to share your video on YouTube. Consider uploading a snippet of a video on Instagram or teasing out quotes to share on other social platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.
Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t yet built up your social media presence (but let this be a reminder that you should). Millennials and Gen Z do pay attention to their email too. Try emailing them a roundup of the content you’ve created. Segment your audience by what interests them and deliver content accordingly.
It’s not too late to rethink your current content strategies. In fact, your old content can even be repurposed to align with this checklist. It may take a team of people to help you craft a successful brand strategy, but you’ll see the results in more engaged prospective students.
Ready to jumpstart your brand storytelling goals? Contact us today.
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