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Create Virtual Campus Tours to Attract More Students

StudentBridge Staff June, 11, 2015

Remember when a campus visit simply involved walking around with a printed map? Today, prospective students have a whole different expectation level. Tech-savvy students are now looking for even more personalized digital experiences. The Google generation expects to be able to find answers to every question and at a click of a button. How well does your campus map engage different types of students?

Virtual walking tours are a good way to showcase your campus to prospective students, but they only tell part of your story. Although it's a helpful tool for seeing the lay of the land, they sometimes struggle to transmit any sense of atmosphere. International and out-of-state students often need to get a feel for your campus before committing to a campus visit. So how do you get a student to emotionally engage with a campus? Information is not enough. Your students need to feel a connection. Here are 4 reasons why you need to provide more than just a tour.

1. Walking Tours Only Show One Point of View:

One of the biggest questions of any prospective student is, will I fit in? Walking tours typically show a student describing the facilities of an institution as a camera follows them around. No matter how exciting the video production may be, it shows the school from the point of view of one student. Inevitably, there will be many people that won't relate to this person. And once again, it is not emotionally engaging. It doesn't tell the stories that connect us with the experience of attending the school.

2. Most Virtual Walking Tours are Cookie Cutter:

Although there are some truly incredible tours that are creative and engaging, most of them have a very generic format: a student, or actor, obviously reading from a teleprompter, describing a location in the background. These formulaic introductions to the campus are easy to forget. After a couple of historical facts about the founder of your school and a list of cafeteria menu items, every tour starts to look the same. Research tells us that we have 6 seconds to get the attention of a prospective student. Does this format grab a student's attention? Not quite.

3. Open Source Video Tours Make It Difficult to Protect Your Brand:

Most institutions still link all of their videos to YouTube, which opens the student up to a world of distractions and the possibility of access to negative content about your school. How many times have you gone on YouTube to look at one video, like a recruitment video, and ended up watching a completely unrelated video five minutes later? Not only are there distracting suggested videos, but more often than not, there will be advertisements on or before your video for a completely different school. This is not ideal for protecting your brand and takes away from the authenticity of your story.

4. Virtual Tours Lack Emotional Engagement:

We know that you choose the best student ambassadors to tell your story; however, you're wasting their talents on telling viewers what your campus looks like instead of explaining what is happening inside you campus. Your college memories are not about who donated the historic statue in front of your institution, but how you met your best friend studying underneath it every day. It's not about how many sports fields your institution had, but the pride you felt when your team finally won a championship game your senior year.

The experiences are what draws people in, and changes a ‘maybe' to an actual on-campus visit, and hopefully a student decision. Although a campus tour is a good thing to have, it becomes great when attached to emotionally engaging stories of your campus, told by actual students sharing their experiences.

How successful has your college been in creating content with an emotional connection?

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