3 universities winning at content marketing

Nels Urtel March 27, 2017

University-related content usually comes to us in two forms, neither of which is any good: “Which campus drinks the most?” Or, “Which crazy offensive thing happened at XYZ College and who should get fired for it?”

But have you ever checked out the content these heroes of higher education are producing themselves?

If you haven’t noticed, universities and colleges are beginning to create and publish really great content. And why shouldn’t they? From sports and music to science and business, there are so many stories to be told within the boundaries of these institutions. There are blogs highlighting campus events, incredibly professional and stunning websites for prospective students, and highly produced and thought-out (if not completely over the top) recruitment videos, all aimed at capturing the essence of each unique facet of campus life.

For better or worse, this sort of higher-education branding is here to stay, and colleges everywhere are going all in on the practice. Here are three content marketing examples from colleges that are doing it well.

Bucknell University

For a school with an enrollment of under 4,000 students, Bucknell University is a giant when it comes to content.

Their greatest content asset is their website. It’s well organized, easy to navigate and visually striking. Additionally, they highlight their firm grasp on one very important branding principle: Your audience controls your brand.

When you visit their site, you’re offered an opportunity to customize your experience there:

Websites aren’t cheap to make, especially really good ones like this. But Bucknell understands that, no matter how much thought and money went into making theirs, it doesn’t mean all of their content will speak to each user. Giving us the chance to see the stories that we’re interested in makes their content feel all the more personal and engaging.

5 stars.

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

In full disclosure, I must admit that I am a proud alumnus of UW-Eau Claire. Am I biased? Probably. Do I care? Not when the content is this good.

Through a beautiful, mobile-friendly website and a strong social presence, they promote a campaign called “The power of [and].” It both highlights the work and passion of students on campus while also embracing the concept of a liberal arts education. It’s promotional, yes. But it focuses, first and foremost, on Blugolds (yes, we’re called Blugolds. No, I still don’t know what it is).

Bonus: UWEC publishes on Medium. While they aren’t the only university that does, it’s still an interesting medium (pun intended, obviously) for universities to use and UWEC does it really well.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Did you know that, when filled, the football stadium at UNL is the third-most populous place in Nebraska?

Go Big Red, indeed.

UNL is the biggest of these three schools, but you wouldn’t be able to tell unless you were to look at their Wikipedia page. The way they use social media and their gorgeous website makes them feel like the school next door. They have a visually stunning landing page and infuse great stories in a few ways.

Striking video plays a huge part in their website experience, with videos front and center on many landing pages throughout. They’re thoughtful, compelling and very well done.

UNL also features something you don’t find on many college websites: user-generated content. They’ve masterfully integrated Instagram images that students have taken around campus or during events right onto the main landing page under the campaign “Your story matters.” They’ve allowed the students at the university to tell their own story in their own way, and that makes for a powerful narrative.

Conclusion

There are so many more examples of great education marketing, but it just goes to show that this is not a passing fad. This is a full-on embrace of how the next generation of college students consumes the internet. As universities continue to mature as brands, the content will only get better.

Nels Urtel March 27, 2017

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