The Art & Science of Creating Good Videos

youtube

Vietnamese get most of their information from online sources, including social media, primarily Facebook.  They also watch a lot of video, 2 hours, 43 minutes a day, to be precise, according to the results of the annual We Are Social and Hootsuite update.  As a result, YouTube ranks 4th among all websites in Viet Nam, according to SimilarWeb.  It is for this reason that videos should be an integral part of any digital marketing campaign. 

I see a lot of online videos intended to promote various educational institutions but not very many quality ones that young people, i.e., potential international students, would actually watch.  In all honesty, most fall into the bad and ugly categories.  Here are two examples.  It would be best to illustrate my points by showing you real videos but that’s not possible, for obvious reasons, the most important of which I would not want to embarrass the offending parties.

Low quality content:  A lot of videos I see are of the talking head variety.  Either students are sitting or standing in one location talking about their school and related experiences, or someone is interviewing them using a talk show format. 

In one video, the students being interviewed looked like prisoners, sitting with hands folder, and dutifully answering question after question.  In another, a student was obviously reading off of a script and looking into the camera with the occasional nervous smile.  Not convincing, invariably boring and, sometimes, painful, to watch. 

Vietnamese students will click on the link, watch for a second or two, and then quickly move elsewhere in search of more inspirational, educational, and/or meaningful content. 

Poor sound quality:  Content aside, many videos are not professional or even semi-professional.  Either staff or students are using substandard equipment and do not have experience making videos for the demographic in question.  It’s like with photography.  Everyone with a smartphone is a “photographer” but very few know how to take good photos worth looking at. 

nas dailyNas Daily is an example from Facebook that I often share with colleagues.  His daily one-minute videos are crisp, fast-paced, and a pleasure to watch and listen to with commentary, interviews, and background music.   He has over 5.8 million followers and over a billion views, which means he must be doing something right.  The point is his videos are worth watching. 

Peace, MAA

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An Ode to International Student Recruiters

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One of the privileges and pleasures of my work is watching colleagues connect with young Vietnamese who are interested in overseas study, be it at a fair, coffee talk, info session, or individual meeting at a hotel. 

Traveling to Viet Nam and other sending countries is still one of the most effective ways to recruit students, especially if the recruiter is good, which most are.  Sitting at home because of budgetary constraints or other reasons and relying solely on armchair techniques is not going to get the job done, especially in competitive markets.

From parents’ and students’ perspective, it’s a way to put a face to an institution, someone they can like, respect, and trust.  Someone who will follow up, be responsive to inquiries via email, Facebook, and chat apps, and stay in touch. 

Good recruiters enjoy their work.  You can hear it in their conversations and see it in their smiles and body language.  So can students and parents.  Those who do not take pleasure in their work seem (are?) bored and disinterested.  It’s obvious their hearts aren’t in it.  Fortunately, these individuals are few and far between.

IMG_4492As someone who helps create opportunities for colleagues to meet with Vietnamese students and parents, I have the utmost respect for my colleagues who do this important work and know how hard they work.  While the life of an international recruiter may seem glamorous to the folks back home, including exotic pics posted on Facebook, and it does have its rewards, it is time away from loved ones and not enough time for proper rest and relaxation.  

In addition, Viet Nam’s evening is their morning “back home”, i.e., for those from North America, which means they have additional work to complete, including emails and online chats with colleagues.

US colleagues, especially in higher education, have the added burden of essentially trying to counteract the statements, proposals, and policies of their own government, now more than ever.  Rather than providing support or not doing anything at all, the US government, through President Trump and his supporters, is continuously setting up road blocks that they have to get around or hoops they have to jump through.  The end results are huge amounts of wasted energy and growing frustration.

IMG_4496The main and immediate job-related reward for recruiters is admitting a new Vietnamese or other international student who gets a visa and arrives on campus ready to begin her or his new academic and cross-cultural adventure.  A potential long-term reward is the personal, academic, and professional transformation that many young people undergo after a rewarding and substantive international experience.

Peace, MAA

How Many Students Will You Send Us?

globeI occasionally receive inquiries from colleagues asking me how many students will I refer to their institutions by a certain term, i.e., semester or quarter.  The assumption behind the question is that the company I work for, Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company, follows the traditional agent model of student recruitment. 

In fact, we have our own unique model that views students and parents as clients not partner institutions that happen to pay a per head commission.  This means we don’t drive, or pressure, students to attend a partner school but rather look for “best fit” schools, regardless of their status.

If a student ends up attending a partner institution, we refund our fee to the parents because we receive a commission later.  If s/he enrolls in a non-partner school, we retain the fee because that’s how we get paid for the service.  It’s an ethical approach to educational advising that also makes financial sense. 

That’s part of the answer.

educated consumerAnother is that growing numbers of Vietnamese students are applying directly to certain types of educational institutions, thereby bypassing educational consulting companies.  This is a positive trend that I applaud.  (It includes students who attend Capstone events.)  More power to them, in my opinion.  It reminds me of a slogan from a now defunct US discount retail clothing store chain, SYMS, that was ingrained in my memory, thanks to persistent and pervasive marketing:  An Educated Consumer is our Best Customer

MAA

Of Chickens, Eggs, & International Student Recruitment

Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?

chicken eggThis is the idiom that pops into my head whenever a colleague says to me, “You send us a few students, then we’ll join one of your events,” as if taking advantage of an institutional service such as a fair or info session were an expression of gratitude.  These requests are few and far between, fortunately.  Colleagues who make them lack an awareness of the nature of these events and assume that every education company is primarily a traditional agent.

In highly competitive markets such as Viet Nam, you should ideally be doing both, i.e.,  commission-based recruitment and participating in a variety of digital and offline activities, all of which cost money, one way or the other.  Joining an education fair, for example, creates a valuable opportunity for meeting face-to-face with parents and students and making connections that could translate into inquiries, apps, and admits.  Public events such as fairs, info sessions, and coffee talks are fee-based services that are expensive to market, which is why they should not be viewed as “rewards” for sending an institution students.  They are a means to that important end.

In addition, the company I work for is not a traditional education agent, meaning its advisers do not pressure students to attend partner schools.  Students and their parents are the clients in that instance not partner schools, which means the goal is always to look for best fit schools for each and every student, regardless of the institutions’ status.

MAA

Irony

Charlottesville & EducationUSA

Defined as:

a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

That and surreal are the words that best describe a situation I encountered while reading an online US newspaper article about the white supremacist “rally” in Charlottesville, VA.  (This was before the violence, including deaths and injuries, that occurred the following day.)

Scrolling down, I suddenly noticed a two-minute EducationUSA video with a link to learn more.  Below are two screenshots. 

edusa1edusa2

The irony became much thicker after Donald Trump failed to condemn the actions of the white supremacists in this Tweet:

trump and charlottesville

MAA

Myanmar: a new frontier for international student recruitment

Since political and economic liberalization, the advent of a multiparty democratic system, and the lifting of economic sanctions, the country has been opening up to the world in grand fashion.

Flag_of_Myanmar_svgThe above quote is from a 7.7.17 PIE News blog post that I co-authored with Deepak Neopane, the founder of City College Yangon and managing director of Academics International, an educational consulting company based in Yangon.

Follow this link to read the post in its entirety.

MAA

Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses-2017 Edition

This is an excellent report produced by the American Council on Education and sponsored by Navitas.  Here’s a brief description from the ACE website:

Conducted every five years, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses assesses the current state of internationalization at American colleges and universities, analyzes progress and trends over time, and identifies future priorities. It is the only comprehensive source of data and analysis on internationalization in U.S. higher education, and includes two- and four-year, public and private, degree-granting institutions.

148x193-mapping-2017-coverI’ve taken the liberty of excerpting the information below about student mobility and international student recruitment (pp. 25-26).  Viet Nam is one of the top three countries – after China and India – cited as a geographic target in 58% of the recruiting plans cited by respondents. (Bold red is mine.)

International student recruiting

Planning and goal-setting frame international student recruiting efforts for many institutions. Funding for various recruiting mechanisms and activities is increasing, though undergraduate recruiting is a greater focus in terms of resource allocation than graduate student recruiting.

Nearly half (48 percent) of institutions have an international student recruiting plan in place—either for the institution as a whole, or for one or more schools/colleges. Of these plans, over 80 percent specify numerical enrollment targets for undergraduates, graduate students, or both.

Fifty-eight percent of the recruiting plans cited by respondents include geographic targets. By a clear margin, the top three target countries are China, India, and Vietnam. These are followed by four additional countries, each of which was identified by 30 to 40 percent of respondents as a target: South Korea, Brazil, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. While these priorities generally hold across sectors, Japan figures particularly prominently as a target country among associate institutions.

The percentage of institutions providing funding for travel by institutional recruitment officers to recruit both undergraduate and graduate students increased in 2016. Nearly twice the percentage of institutions fund such travel for recruiting at the undergraduate level (44 percent) as at the graduate level (23 percent).

Just over a third (36 percent) of institutions employ technology other than email and web pages in their recruiting efforts (e.g., by participating in virtual college fairs and delivering online information sessions for interested students). While the 2016 and 2011 data on this indicator are not fully comparable, they suggest an upward trend.

The percentage of institutions that provide scholarships or other financial aid for undergraduate international students increased by eleven percentage points to just under half (49 percent), while the proportion offering funding to graduate international students increased from 24 percent to 30 percent. Not surprisingly, the latter is much more common among doctoral and master’s universities than at institutions in the other three sectors.

A markedly higher percentage of institutions are engaging overseas student recruiters (agents) than in 2011. Though undergraduate recruiting is again the primary focus, as illustrated in Figure 12, for both the undergraduate and graduate levels, the percentage of institutions providing funding for recruiting agents more than doubled between 2011 and 2016. For both student populations, master’s institutions engage agents at higher rates than colleges and universities in other sectors.

Follow this link to download the report

MAA