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Multimedia content in higher education

Multimedia content in higher education

6 minute read

Multimedia content in higher education

6 minute read

Multimedia content in higher education

Paige Toomes

Copywriter and Digital Marketer

In higher education, content needs to be user-centered, accessible, and engaging. While blog articles and written content are valuable, multimedia and multichannel content is a growing area and it’s important to provide a variety of content for your audiences.

Marketers and content creators can’t assume that everyone learns the same way, and need to make sure they are diverse and inclusive with content, catering for auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning, just as lecturers should be.

Key things to think about with multimedia content in higher ed

  • The coronavirus pandemic and multimedia. Since the coronavirus pandemic, internet use has risen. And GatherContent's study on how the pandemic is impacting higher education study showed that content teams are facing new challenges, and need to increase content output. With people being online more, it’s important to think about engagement online and multimedia content. Video lectures and virtual open days are also something that universities now need to do, for example.

  • Accessibility. Making sure your multimedia content, website and apps are accessible is crucial in higher education, particularly as in the UK all higher education sites and apps must now adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCGA) 2.1. Multimedia content also offers a variety of formats to aid those with disabilities, and those who have limited access or varying needs.

  • Storytelling and enhancing your brand. People need to be engaged for your content to be successful, and storytelling in your content is one of the best ways to do this. Multimedia is a way to tell rich stories in exciting ways, and can really show your brand personality.

  • User experience. Better user experience is one of the key reasons for multimedia content, and there are lots to think about. While rich media is great, you need to make sure you are working towards solving user problems and meeting their needs.

  • SEO. Multimedia content can boost your SEO if you follow certain practices. Google is now getting more sophisticated and better at matching user intent with search results, and with multimedia showing on the first page.

Types of multimedia content to use in your content strategy

Your university content strategy should include different multimedia. Here are some ideas of types that you could use, and why they are useful:

Video content

This one comes up top because video is really important. Behind Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine, and videos are everywhere on social media today. They are useful for lots of different things, like explainer videos, demos, live videos, presentations, testimonials, interviews, sales and ads. In fact:

  • 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service (Source: Wyzowl)

  • 73% of young consumers saying they're watching more video on their mobiles since the start of the pandemic (Source: Snapchat)

  • Gen Z streams video for roughly 23 hours each week (Source: Criteo)

  • Nearly four times as many millennials said they would prefer to watch the video rather than read an article (Source: Clearvoice)

  • 61% of millennials said they watch videos as a form of stress relief (Clearvoice)

It’s clear from these stats that video is key in engaging audiences, increasing click-through rates and time spent on your website. All of this said it’s important to provide text-based alternatives such as transcripts and subtitles or closed-captions with video to make them accessible too.

Images and animations

It sounds obvious, and we’ve all heard the old adage that ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ —but it’s true! Humans process visual data better. In fact, our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. The power of visual marketing and visual aids for learning can’t be stated enough.

Think about it. Images, icons symbols are used all the time, and with great success. The Nike tick or McDonald's 'M.' Toilet signs. The danger warning on your bottle of bleach. We recognise these things easily.

Use icons on your website, break up text with images in blog posts and use infographics, which are great at helping people retain information and follow instructions. The types of images you use are important too. Stock images can be a turn off for audiences if they look too staged or cliche. It’s best to create your own authentic images. You can also try websites like Unsplash and Pixabay to find more natural-looking images with creative commons licenses.  

Animation is also something that is often overlooked. While you don’t want people to be overwhelmed, adding small animations here and there to your content is a great way of keeping people engaged. One particularly popular type of animation with young people is GIF (young people love GIFs).

Make sure you are following accessibility guidelines for images, such as using alt-text on images for example, so screen readers can pick up information about an image to give it context.

Slideshows and slideshares

With the coronavirus pandemic, online learning and presentations are only increasing. Slideshare is a great tool for universities and students alike to share and get their information. However, there’s an emerging disdain for standard PowerPoint presentations these days (and Microsoft Word as an authoring and editing environment!). Traditional PowerPoint presentations are generally seen as being too wordy and dull.

So, people are now using alternative software like Prezi or Relayto to tell stories in more visual ways, or, just simply toning down their presentations to be more minimal and image-based, sticking to one idea per slide. Rich Prowse from the University of Bath did a great webinar with GatherContent on service design in higher education, and his slides really are a breath of fresh air.

Webinars and podcasts

Live audio-based events like webinars and podcasts are a popular form of multimedia, with lots of us using them in our work and home lives. What’s great about these is they give us the live feeling and connection, but many are downloadable on-demand long after the event has passed.

GatherContent host lots of webinars for higher education on content strategy, and universities are starting to use webinars aimed at prospective and current students for marketing purposes, as well as for teaching and learning during the pandemic. Here are some great examples of webinars from universities:

Podcasts are also becoming a staple in our daily lives. Here are some great examples from universities:

Again, for accessibility, make sure you provide transcripts for podcasts and webinars.

Interactive content

Technically some of the above content mentioned can be classed as interactive. In terms of audience engagement, interactive content just works.

People like the novelty of driving interaction with a brand, but also, on a deeper level, it’s a great way to build two-way communications and relationships, as well as gaining more insight into your audience's preferences and behaviours.

Examples of interactive content can include:

  • Live web chats and chatbots
  • Polls and quizzes
  • Calculators (for working out budgets or fees in higher ed, for example)
  • Forms and surveys
  • Interactive video and documents
  • Games and apps

Social media

Social media is multimedia by default. It’s kind of like a multimedia hub. And as it is inherently focused on the ‘social’ aspect and building a community, there is a great chance here to use multimedia to increase engagement and shareability of content. Every university should have a social media content strategy in place.

It’s been hard not to talk about video again here, with these two stats:

  • Companies that market with video on social have a 27% higher click-through rate and 34% higher conversion rates than those that don’t (Aberdeen Group)

  • Content with video gets 12x more shares than text and image-based content on social media (Hubspot)

Video is not only a great way to educate people, but it can also drum up interest and discussion in your brand. YouTube itself is a social media platform, and often young people are interested in the comments section just as much as the video itself!

It's important for accessibility purposes to remember to use descriptions of any images you post on social media. It's also important to write hashtags in title case, rather than sentence case, so screenreaders can understand them. For example. #ContentStrategy not #contentstrategy.

User-generated content

User-generated content is the current big thing in content marketing, particularly aimed at young people. Students today are 'prosumers' (producer-consumers), have a more active voice, and more platforms to share this on than ever before.

User-generated content can include reviews and testimonials, blog posts, social media posts, videos, and increasingly, memes. Here are the stats:

Utilising user-generated content such as student stories and real-world information about life on campus can really humanise your marketing and increase authenticity, which young people crave from brands today.  Many universities are doing 'student takeovers' of their social media platforms, and student-run blogs.

How GatherContent supports institutions with multimedia content strategy

With the multimedia content becoming more important, many institutions have been propelled into digital transformation. There are many aspects of content creation that remain a challenge, especially if lots of stakeholders are involved. This is where GatherContent can help.

GatherContent is a Content Operations Platform helping hundreds of higher ed institutions to create and manage their multichannel, multimedia content in a productive and collaborative way. To find out what it can do for your university, visit the higher education industry page.

In higher education, content needs to be user-centered, accessible, and engaging. While blog articles and written content are valuable, multimedia and multichannel content is a growing area and it’s important to provide a variety of content for your audiences.

Marketers and content creators can’t assume that everyone learns the same way, and need to make sure they are diverse and inclusive with content, catering for auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning, just as lecturers should be.

Key things to think about with multimedia content in higher ed

  • The coronavirus pandemic and multimedia. Since the coronavirus pandemic, internet use has risen. And GatherContent's study on how the pandemic is impacting higher education study showed that content teams are facing new challenges, and need to increase content output. With people being online more, it’s important to think about engagement online and multimedia content. Video lectures and virtual open days are also something that universities now need to do, for example.

  • Accessibility. Making sure your multimedia content, website and apps are accessible is crucial in higher education, particularly as in the UK all higher education sites and apps must now adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCGA) 2.1. Multimedia content also offers a variety of formats to aid those with disabilities, and those who have limited access or varying needs.

  • Storytelling and enhancing your brand. People need to be engaged for your content to be successful, and storytelling in your content is one of the best ways to do this. Multimedia is a way to tell rich stories in exciting ways, and can really show your brand personality.

  • User experience. Better user experience is one of the key reasons for multimedia content, and there are lots to think about. While rich media is great, you need to make sure you are working towards solving user problems and meeting their needs.

  • SEO. Multimedia content can boost your SEO if you follow certain practices. Google is now getting more sophisticated and better at matching user intent with search results, and with multimedia showing on the first page.

Types of multimedia content to use in your content strategy

Your university content strategy should include different multimedia. Here are some ideas of types that you could use, and why they are useful:

Video content

This one comes up top because video is really important. Behind Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine, and videos are everywhere on social media today. They are useful for lots of different things, like explainer videos, demos, live videos, presentations, testimonials, interviews, sales and ads. In fact:

  • 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service (Source: Wyzowl)

  • 73% of young consumers saying they're watching more video on their mobiles since the start of the pandemic (Source: Snapchat)

  • Gen Z streams video for roughly 23 hours each week (Source: Criteo)

  • Nearly four times as many millennials said they would prefer to watch the video rather than read an article (Source: Clearvoice)

  • 61% of millennials said they watch videos as a form of stress relief (Clearvoice)

It’s clear from these stats that video is key in engaging audiences, increasing click-through rates and time spent on your website. All of this said it’s important to provide text-based alternatives such as transcripts and subtitles or closed-captions with video to make them accessible too.

Images and animations

It sounds obvious, and we’ve all heard the old adage that ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ —but it’s true! Humans process visual data better. In fact, our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. The power of visual marketing and visual aids for learning can’t be stated enough.

Think about it. Images, icons symbols are used all the time, and with great success. The Nike tick or McDonald's 'M.' Toilet signs. The danger warning on your bottle of bleach. We recognise these things easily.

Use icons on your website, break up text with images in blog posts and use infographics, which are great at helping people retain information and follow instructions. The types of images you use are important too. Stock images can be a turn off for audiences if they look too staged or cliche. It’s best to create your own authentic images. You can also try websites like Unsplash and Pixabay to find more natural-looking images with creative commons licenses.  

Animation is also something that is often overlooked. While you don’t want people to be overwhelmed, adding small animations here and there to your content is a great way of keeping people engaged. One particularly popular type of animation with young people is GIF (young people love GIFs).

Make sure you are following accessibility guidelines for images, such as using alt-text on images for example, so screen readers can pick up information about an image to give it context.

Slideshows and slideshares

With the coronavirus pandemic, online learning and presentations are only increasing. Slideshare is a great tool for universities and students alike to share and get their information. However, there’s an emerging disdain for standard PowerPoint presentations these days (and Microsoft Word as an authoring and editing environment!). Traditional PowerPoint presentations are generally seen as being too wordy and dull.

So, people are now using alternative software like Prezi or Relayto to tell stories in more visual ways, or, just simply toning down their presentations to be more minimal and image-based, sticking to one idea per slide. Rich Prowse from the University of Bath did a great webinar with GatherContent on service design in higher education, and his slides really are a breath of fresh air.

Webinars and podcasts

Live audio-based events like webinars and podcasts are a popular form of multimedia, with lots of us using them in our work and home lives. What’s great about these is they give us the live feeling and connection, but many are downloadable on-demand long after the event has passed.

GatherContent host lots of webinars for higher education on content strategy, and universities are starting to use webinars aimed at prospective and current students for marketing purposes, as well as for teaching and learning during the pandemic. Here are some great examples of webinars from universities:

Podcasts are also becoming a staple in our daily lives. Here are some great examples from universities:

Again, for accessibility, make sure you provide transcripts for podcasts and webinars.

Interactive content

Technically some of the above content mentioned can be classed as interactive. In terms of audience engagement, interactive content just works.

People like the novelty of driving interaction with a brand, but also, on a deeper level, it’s a great way to build two-way communications and relationships, as well as gaining more insight into your audience's preferences and behaviours.

Examples of interactive content can include:

  • Live web chats and chatbots
  • Polls and quizzes
  • Calculators (for working out budgets or fees in higher ed, for example)
  • Forms and surveys
  • Interactive video and documents
  • Games and apps

Social media

Social media is multimedia by default. It’s kind of like a multimedia hub. And as it is inherently focused on the ‘social’ aspect and building a community, there is a great chance here to use multimedia to increase engagement and shareability of content. Every university should have a social media content strategy in place.

It’s been hard not to talk about video again here, with these two stats:

  • Companies that market with video on social have a 27% higher click-through rate and 34% higher conversion rates than those that don’t (Aberdeen Group)

  • Content with video gets 12x more shares than text and image-based content on social media (Hubspot)

Video is not only a great way to educate people, but it can also drum up interest and discussion in your brand. YouTube itself is a social media platform, and often young people are interested in the comments section just as much as the video itself!

It's important for accessibility purposes to remember to use descriptions of any images you post on social media. It's also important to write hashtags in title case, rather than sentence case, so screenreaders can understand them. For example. #ContentStrategy not #contentstrategy.

User-generated content

User-generated content is the current big thing in content marketing, particularly aimed at young people. Students today are 'prosumers' (producer-consumers), have a more active voice, and more platforms to share this on than ever before.

User-generated content can include reviews and testimonials, blog posts, social media posts, videos, and increasingly, memes. Here are the stats:

Utilising user-generated content such as student stories and real-world information about life on campus can really humanise your marketing and increase authenticity, which young people crave from brands today.  Many universities are doing 'student takeovers' of their social media platforms, and student-run blogs.

How GatherContent supports institutions with multimedia content strategy

With the multimedia content becoming more important, many institutions have been propelled into digital transformation. There are many aspects of content creation that remain a challenge, especially if lots of stakeholders are involved. This is where GatherContent can help.

GatherContent is a Content Operations Platform helping hundreds of higher ed institutions to create and manage their multichannel, multimedia content in a productive and collaborative way. To find out what it can do for your university, visit the higher education industry page.

Webinar Recording

The state of Higher Education digital environments

Why university and college digital ecosystems are complex and how understanding them helps manage content, user experience, performance and risk.

January 9, 2019

3:50 am

Register now

Webinar Recording

The state of Higher Education digital environments

Why university and college digital ecosystems are complex and how understanding them helps manage content, user experience, performance and risk.

January 9, 2019

3:50 am

Watch now
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About the author

Paige Toomes

Paige is an English Literature and Media graduate from Newcastle University, and over the last three years has built up a career in SEO-driven copywriting for tech companies. She has written for Microsoft, Symantec and LinkedIn, as well as other SaaS companies and IT consulting firms. With an audience-focused approach to content, Paige handles the lifecycle from creation through to measurement, supporting businesses with their content operations.

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