Why Higher Education Should Embrace Online Storytelling

Today’s families are told it’s never too early to start preparing for college. And where do these tech-savvy students and their parents go to start this early college preparation? Online.

That’s why it’s now more critical than ever for higher education institutions to focus their marketing efforts on telling their school story effectively online.

School storytelling is vital to colleges and universities.

Nearly all popular college search companies suggest that students spend time browsing a college’s website to determine if the school is a good fit for them. But internet savvy teens aren’t just checking out the courses and professors.

  • They expect to be able to explore the college through virtual tours, blogs and live chats.
  • The majority of students turn to social media to help them scope out a college.
  • Approximately 63% of students say they’ve used YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat to get the scoop on a college they’re considering.
  • 45% say they’ve been directly influenced by their social media experience with the college.
  • 38% say they use social media when making the final decision on where to enroll.

When you consider that the average ratio of guidance counselors to students is 482:1, it’s no surprise that students are turning to the Internet to help with the three-phase process of researching, applying to and selecting a college or university. After all, today’s high school juniors and seniors can connect with their friends, favorite brands and even Hollywood mega-stars online. It’s a trusted source of information, and they don’t think of connecting with a college any differently. They’re used to finding online communities where they “fit in”, and want to get the same feeling from a school’s online presence.

Prospective students don’t just want to know what you offer– they want to know who you are. And they want to find out without having to ask. They want to look at your school’s online presence and feel a connection.

Another reason students are seeking an online experience that’s enticing, engaging and memorable: They’re looking for something that tips the scales in their decision-making process regarding where to apply and, eventually, where to attend.

  • Most students are applying to at least 10 schools, sometimes applying to 20 or more.
  • Those are numbers higher than ever before (the Common Application makes this easier than ever), and they don’t just mean tougher decisions for students—for schools, they mean more competition.

Colleges and universities have a fantastic opportunity to cut through the clutter and grab the attention of the students who are eagerly browsing their websites and social networks. They need to present unique content and experiences (like these five schools do) and tell a clear, consistent and meaningful story. The audience that is actively preparing for college is very technologically savvy and places a huge emphasis on what they discover online. Schools can only provide an online experience that appropriately informs, engages and wows by thinking beyond the traditional.

By staying connected with students through fresh content served up in a variety of ways, higher education institutions have a better chance of making it to the top of the list of today’s college-bound student.

Want to learn more about content marketing’s impact on higher education? Let’s chat!


Tell us what you think, or ask us any questions. We’re here to help!

  • Great article. This will really help with my content marketing plan! Also I’d like to point out a broken link. 2nd to last paragraph, “these” has an “).” at the end of the url. 😉

    Julian Hooks - January 24, 2014 at 3:50 pm
  • Glad you enjoyed, Julian! And thanks for the heads up; I will fix that link.

    cursivecontent - January 25, 2014 at 4:31 pm
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