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Intelligence Brief: Video engagement as predictor of enrollment

José Mallabo June, 24, 2024

445,000 videos speak volumes about demonstrated student interest

It's been almost 20 years since the first video was posted to YouTube. The world hasn’t been the same since. It’s now a foregone conclusion that video is where we all go to learn how to do just about anything – including searching for life’s big decisions like going to college.

According to RNL’s 2023 E-Expectations Trend Report, 82% of students are watching videos from colleges and universities. 

StudentBridge analyzed 445,206 videos viewed in 2023 by prospective students on partner platforms to identify trends and insights. This analysis aims to offer actionable insights to help institutions enhance their engagement with students in 2024 and beyond.

1. Pair Digital Video with Easy-To-Navigate CTAs

By creating videos tailored to student interests, institutions can make their content more relevant and effectively capture student attention. This relevance not only boosts engagement, as students are more likely to watch, share, and interact with videos that resonate with their interests and aspirations, but also saves time and money by avoiding the production of irrelevant content. From prior analyses, we know that students who engage with a video are 23 times more likely to respond to a call to action (like schedule a visit or fill out a form). 


2. Content Relevance is Key

Tailoring video content to the interests and aspirations of prospective students not only increases engagement but also optimizes resource use by reducing the creation of irrelevant content. Videos that resonate with students are more likely to be watched thoroughly and shared. Consider whether content, like a routine administrative update, truly aids a student’s decision-making process about applying to your institution. The President’s Welcome video ranked 47 out of 54 total topics in 2023 – getting just 941 total plays.

Students who engage with video are 23x more likely to take action.

3. Prioritize Popular Video Topics

The analysis reveals that the most engaged topics include academic programs, residence life, and athletics. Videos that provide a comprehensive overview of these topics tend to perform well. Resources are tight and there’s never enough time to do everything, so prioritize video topics that matter.


4. Completion Rates Indicate Interest

Topics such as campus places, health & wellness, and community service opportunities not only catch students' attention but also hold it from start to finish, suggesting these areas are crucial in their college decision-making process. How are your current videos aligned against these topics? If there is too much daylight between this list and your reality, you should consider investing more time in creating content that matters.


June and July were among the strongest for engagement, with student completion rates surpassing 50% for videos about residence life.


5. Strategize Timing for Video Releases

The months with the highest video engagement—April, August, and October—suggest optimal times for releasing new videos to capture maximum prospective student attention. Simply posting video opportunistically may appease your to-do list but the best time to engage with students is when they are looking, not necessarily when you wrap production.

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