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Virtual reality campus tours have become a big hit in marketing to prospective students.

A Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, famously said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Although the goal of marketing always stays the same — brand awareness, engagement and conversion — strategies and tactics change with the times. Here we take a look at some of the shifts in higher education marketing trends for 2018, as well as some of the things that have stayed the same.

1. Social Media Is Key  ­

It’s a no-brainer that you want to place marketing materials where your target audience will see them. For higher education, having a robust social media presence has long been important. In 2018, though, it’s going to be a priority. Potential college students — Gen Z and millennials alike — maintain an almost constant presence on more than one social platform. If your marketing budget doesn’t include a plan for content creation, advertising and post-boosting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, you’re going to miss out. The marketing department will also need to stay on top of any new social trends that rise — or fall.

2. Ephemeral Is In

In 2017 we saw a rise in the popularity of what’s called “ephemeral content,” which is linked to social media. The term refers to content that vanishes after a maximum of 24 hours, and it can take the form of the “story” functions on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook — in which a short picture slideshow is posted with captions — as well as streaming video or brief pre-recorded videos. It’s become one of the most popular features on social media — and higher education marketers who utilize it can reach a much wider audience.

3. Embrace Video …

Speaking of video, earlier this year WordStream reported that 82 percent of Twitter users watch video content posted on Twitter, and each week, 45 percent of social-media savvy folks watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos. YouTube lays claim to 1 billion active users each month. What’s more, AdWeek reported that Snapchatters watch 10 billion videos a day.  Our MarCom Alliance partner Allied Pixel has pioneered the use of personalized video — check out this TEDx Talk in which Allied President Bill Haley talks about how they’ve been using it to create college recruitment videos.

4. …. But Don’t Skimp on Writing

Video is a must, but content will still be king when it comes to higher education marketing trends in 2018. A study by M Stoner Inc. found that 64 percent of college prospects would rather read a college website’s content than have the message delivered via video. This can come in the form of blogging, social media posts, and storytelling via the ephemeral content we referenced in tip No. 2.

5. Virtual Reality Gets Real

No longer the stuff of Star Trek science fiction, virtual reality and its sister, augmented reality, are here to stay. Virtual reality alone is predicted to grow 85 percent by 2020, and savvy college marketers are already using it to give prospects a college tour without the hassle of long-distance travel. While virtual reality immerses a user in an experience, usually via a special headset, augmented reality adds to an experience in real time by allowing users to interact with a display or event. This is usually via a smartphone app, which uses your phone’s camera function to project a layer of information, such as a map, over something at which your phone is pointed. Our MarCom Alliance partner firm Embarq Creative has been using augmented reality to, among other things, literally make printed graphics jump off the page!

Curious about how content and social media can transform your school’s marketing campaign? Contact Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or [email protected].

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