There’s a secret to terrific YouTube storytelling. The first thing colleges need to understand is that all great brands tell great stories.

Why is YouTube storytelling important? Because, on a basic level, stories create emotion, and as anyone in marketing knows, emotions drive engagement and sales.

As Mark Truby, VP of Global Communications for Ford Motor Company, says, “A good story makes you feel something universal. They [the customers] want to grasp your values and commitment to excellence be inspired and intrigued. Storytelling is the most powerful way to convey these ideas.”

Here at Interact, we’ve been telling brand stories for community colleges for more than 20 years and we’ve learned a couple of things about how to do it well. In this post, we’re going to look at two basic approaches to telling stories on YouTube. But first, why is YouTube the best platform for this strategy?

Why YouTube Storytelling?

A phone displaying the YouTube app for great YouTube Storytelling

With more than 1 billion views per day and as the second most used search engine in the world, YouTube is one of the most effective and powerful ways to communicate your college’s brand. According to Interact’s Media Preferences survey (an annual survey of the media viewing habits of community college students), YouTube is the most used social platform across ALL community college demographics.

If you still need to be convinced, read, “3 Reasons Why Your College Should Be Using YouTube.”

How to Use Authentic Narration in YouTube Storytelling

A screenshot of a real-life YouTube storytelling example from Orange County Community College video.
This film still shows how Orange County Community College used real graduates to tell their success stories and inspire others.

A highly effective way to tell your college’s story, and one that doesn’t require a huge advertising budget, is to leverage the success of your own students.

We call this “authentic narration” and have been using it to great success for many years. Not only is it a much more cost-effective alternative for budget-strapped community colleges, but it also has the advantage of being entirely authentic.

On an emotional level, these authentic narrations achieve many things. First and foremost, they put a “human” face on your institution. Below are some good questions to ask yourself before launching into YouTube storytelling:

  • Does your college want to be seen as approachable and accepting? Good storytelling from real students can make college seem possible by showing viewers how “students like them” have found success.
  • Does your college want to be seen as accessible and authentic? Then show that your degrees and certifications lead to success, not empty promises.
  • Does your college want to be seen as credible? Then leverage YouTube storytelling to show that you value students.
  • Does your college want to be seen as student-focused? Then show that your degrees make a difference.
  • Does your college want to be seen as effective? Serve up some super success stories straight from your top alumni!

Incredible Client Metrics that Prove the Worth of YouTube Storytelling

To give you an idea of how effective these have been, here are a few links and bullet points.

  • From June to November of 2018, a YouTube Career Education campaign for the Orange County Strong Workforce Program generated more than 1 million impressions, with 667,000 completed views for a completed viewing rate of 61.7%, and an average cost of $.08 per completed video.

  • From April to August of 2018, an Inland Empire/Desert Regional Consortium Career Education campaign resulted in more than 350,000 unique impressions, 180,491 completed views, a completed view rate of 45% and a cost per completed view of $.07.

  • The Spanish version of the IE campaign was similarly impressive, driving more than 350,000 impressions and 150,000 completed views, and boasting a completed view rate of 42% at an average cost per completed view of only $.03.

To give you some context, the average completed view rate, according to Google Trends, is 15%, with average costs per view running between 10 and 15 cents.

Yeah, these campaigns killed it. And that’s good for a lot of reasons.., but mostly it’s good because what we do is important.

Education changes lives. In fact, it can change generations of lives.

That’s why it’s so important that you’re successful, and that’s why Interact is so committed to the work that we and you do.

Even More YouTube Resources

When you’re ready to start integrating video into your college’s storytelling strategy, or just need the support of an agency that knows what it’s like to herd cats, reach out and drop us a line. We believe in what you’re doing.

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By Published On: February 27, 2019Last Updated: April 18, 2023Categories: Blog Articles, StrategyTags: , , ,