What does 2019 expect of education and employer marketing?
By Chris Le'Cand-Harwood
It should be a lot.
We find ourselves at the end of a decade that's seen massive change in the way the world communicates. Social media and mobile consumption, powered by bigger data plans, has placed higher expectations on marketers.
So if marketers are to do the present day full justice what do we hope for in 2019?
Audience first and foremost
When attention can be lost within a click, tap or a swipe the stakes are high. Getting in front of the right people isn't the challenge these days; we are blessed with routes to market we could only dream of last decade. Competition for attention is so high now (think about the messages we receive from family, friends, news outlets, celebrities…and brands) that brands ignore the audience at their peril. Thumb friendly content respects the needs and motivations of the people it serves. It's not enough to place a product in front of someone and expect them to stop in their tracks.
This is particularly the case in education and employer marketing where big decisions need to be informed with meaningful content. I can understand the desire to position the product (aka course or job vacancy) front and centre but there needs to be more focus on content that informs and inspires. The by-product will be more engaged leads and ultimately customers (aka students or employees) who add value to a business.
So 2019 should be all about the audience. Give them content that reflects your brand but helps your audience and you'll be doing something right.
You can't do social without doing video
We've all heard marketers bang on about how important video is. I'm one of them. But there's great reason for this: video is a massive part of the internet's present and future. Back in 2016 the VP for Facebook in EMEA said Facebook "will definitely be mobile and probably all be video" (just think about how much video you see these days when you spin through your Facebook feed). If you're on social media you consume video: A Global Web Index report into video saw 96% of social networkers watching video in 2018.
When you are getting all you can eat data plans on your mobile and super fast broadband you can watch video to your heart's content. Facebook and Instagram realise this through big plays in long form video (introducing Facebook Watch and IGTV respectively in 2018). YouTube has 1.9 billion users and has 400 hours of video uploaded every minute. Snapchat sees daily active users spend an average of 30 minutes a day on the app (expect that to be way higher for the most committed users). And there's TikTok, the new-ish kid on the block, which is all about video and had more downloads than any other social media app in October (it was also the second most downloaded app in Google Play and Apple App stores in November).
People are consuming video to stay up to date with news and current events, find funny or entertaining content, to keep in touch with friends and research products to buy. 49% of social video viewers watched a tutorial video on how to do something and 41% watched an education video on YouTube. 31% watched a video made by a brand and 30% watched a consumer review of a product.
When so much of the internet, particularly social media, is about consuming video you can't ignore it. If you're not doing video, you're not really doing social media.
But does this mean your budget gets eaten up by expensive video production? Well, your budget should understand the importance of video but you could try freeing up budget by really scrutinising your media buying. And when you do invest time and effort into video production it's important to make the most of pre-production to ensure you have multiple edits that are suitable for different platforms. One shoot day with students or employees could end up with how to videos for YouTube, selfie videos on what student or employee life that can become Instagram Stories or an in conversation video for IGTV. There's also student or employee generated video that can give you that authenticity while being cost effective.
Audio is a big deal and podcasts are a big opportunity
Audio has had a revival in a big way thanks to mobile phones, cheaper headphones, big data plans and the popularity of smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home. This has meant that audio content is as easy to consume as it ever has. The appeal of audio is understandable: you can listen on the move while getting on with other things (Nielsen says weekdays are more popular for audio while the weekends are more popular for video).
Last year Nielsen's year end music report saw on-demand audio streams exceeding 400 billion in 2017 compared to 252 billion in 2016. In comparison on-demand video streams were at 180 billion in 2016 and 217.7 billion in 2017.
Music plays a big role in audio consumption but so do podcasts. There have been 50 billion all-time global podcast downloads and streams. In the UK alone, 6 million people listen to a podcast in an average week and 93% of people who downloaded a podcast listened to it through to the end. Millennials (18-34 year olds) and Gen X (35-54 years olds) are avid listeners with them taking up 44% and 33% of the podcast audience respectively.
Podcasts are ultimately downloadable/streamable audio episodes catering for all interests. Sport, business, news, comedy, advice, stories? There's a podcast out there for you.
So how can education and employer marketing teams benefit from this appetite for audio? Career advice, university life, self improvement, success stories…these are podcast gold. So it would be right to see podcasts play more of a role in education and employer marketing in 2019.
At the end of year marketers who have taken more time to understand what their target audiences need, and have used video and audio to cater for those needs, will be the ones living up to the expectations of 2019.
Sources: Global Web Index Social Video Report 2018, Nielsen 2017 Year-End Music Report (Jan 2018), RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) Report 2018, Fast Company 2018, Wired 2018
Chris leads content marketing strategy at SMRS and has been working on social media for over 10 years. Chris and the team will be running social media and content masterclasses through 2019 so please get in touch if you are interested in attending one of them.