Leveraging Research for Content Marketing
Schools are always in need of two resources: great students & great teachers. Promoting world-class research for content marketing purposes has the rare ability to attract both demographics with the same content.
In this post, we will examine research promotion in terms of website content, social media, and video and how they can work to fuel a university’s content marketing machine. Within each case, a school already championing these avenues will be featured so you can get some ideas about how to make these techniques work for your own benefit.
Remember, you may not be any of these schools from a brand name perspective, but when it comes to world-class research, you can utilize their promotional strategies as inspiration for your own.
1) Providing Legitimate Space on Your Website
When a school is considered a “research university”, or simply has a robust research scene, we recommend dedicating an entire section of your webpage for its promotion. Promoting great research is appealing to both students and teachers. Having this information easily accessible within your website can be as beneficial as the “apply now” and “admissions” tabs when thinking about top-funnel content.
Take Indiana University Bloomington for example. IU places so much emphasis on research that they feature it right next to the Admissions and Academics sections right on the home page.
Clicking on the “faculty research resources” button takes you to a page detailing the funding, research, and teaching opportunities available at IU. This resource provides information about current and past projects teachers have undertaken, and also suggests why the school would be a great place to begin one’s own research.
Focusing on the students, the case studies featured on the research page brilliantly speak to the questions they might have about college.
Or in other words, “I used to be a student looking to get involved in exciting research, and here is how IU met and exceeded my goals. Let’s check out Marlena’s story shall we? With a simple click, we are taken to a showcase page detailing Marlena’s journey from perspective student all the way to enrolling at IU.
The great thing about this case study is that it mirrors the same sentiment and curiosity incoming freshman have about college. Case studies like these speak to prospects from a student-to-student perspective. This adds an air of sincerity to the story and makes it more relevant to impressionable undergraduates who are increasingly adverse to direct forms of marketing.
The research page is easy to navigate, well designed, and easily answers questions prospects might have about research opportunities at IU. If you are looking for an example of how to incorporate research related content into your own web presence to attract both students and teachers…please, look no further.
2) Segmenting Social Content via Audience
Promoting research via social media requires a few considerations. The first is deciding how to successfully break up content for separate channels. A one-hundred and forty-four page research paper won’t resonate well on twitter without a colorful image and accompanying tagline.
Isolating specific research projects, and then designing channel specific content strategies is a great way to get the most out of your content pieces.
Social strategy has always been about putting the right content in front of the right people. For many schools it would not make sense firing out a bunch of non-related research content from a university page or Twitter handle.
When you have multiple research departments, and subsequently different interested audiences, consider creating separate twitter handles (and other social pages when it makes sense) to reach the widest audience available.
I call it the Stanford University example. Let’s take a closer look.
Stanford University has a very robust Twitter presence, with a unique twitter handle for each respective research college such as Stanford Engineering (@StandfordEng), Stanford Education (@StanfordED), and Stanford Medicine (@StanfordMed).
Segmenting departments across separate handles allows a student/interested party to follow that singular page or Twitter handle and receive the information most tailored to them.
Medicine related content won’t get lost in a sea of engineering videos, and interested students, once having navigated to the correct handle, will have a wealth of information at their fingertips.
Don’t be afraid to segment content just because you don’t have the same size following as a Stanford University. Organize content accordingly, and then over time, nurture your audiences so they can grow in the correct areas. While this will take more time, in the long run, you will build a more cohesive social picture around your brand.
When you start thinking about your institution’s research from a content marketing perspective, you may just find you suddenly have a lot more ideas for things to tweet/create social content around.
3) Optimizing the Video Profile
Most of the research related content we promote here at Fathom is in the form of video. Video content has the tendency to come out with a lot of hype, and then quickly be left to rot in the back of an unkempt YouTube channel.
When the number of videos begin to pile up, a great way to re-purpose old content is to begin devoting time to your university’s video profile.
YouTube channel management mirrors the Stanford Twitter example in a multitude of ways. First, if enough content is available, consider creating separate channels for each specific college to segment content by audience. This creates a sense of organization and order, a vitally important theme to cultivate when prospects experience your brand for the first time.
Let’s use Harvard University as our example. This is what Google gives us when we search for “Harvard University YouTube.”
This is the main advantage of channel segmentation, no need to scroll through a long list of videos unrelated to your interest. With proper video organization, all the information is in the right place at the right time when initial student interest is high.
Optimizing your YouTube channel means telling a story. Let’s take the Harvard Business School YouTube channel as our example.
The first video, “HBS welcomes Class of 2017” sets the exposition for the story HBS is painting by providing prospects an introduction to the brand.
Videos such as “Advice from new MBA’s” and “Inside the HBS case method” act as additional content ready for students seeking further or specific information. Considering how to align video content to create the best picture around your brand is one of the most important aspects of video promotion.
If your school has video related research to promote, consider following the Harvard YouTube channel as inspiration to create your own virtual experience.
Research universities are literal content marketing machines. Our job as marketers is making sure as many people as possible witness this world-class research. This means making all of the necessary information visually appealing, channel appropriate, and easy to navigate.
Following these 3 principles will make sure the right audience sees your content and gets excited about what your university has to offer. Remember, promoting research has the rare quality of attracting both students and teachers. Make sure you don’t fall behind in promoting your university’s research so your prospects don’t have their questions answered elsewhere.