Just how important is your college or university's blog? Is it mostly alumni reading to catch up on the latest campus happenings? Or is it prospective or current students' parents tuning in for the latest press release or announcement? The truth is, your blog is a gateway for even your youngest audience members—your Gen-Z high school recruits.
Here are five things to keep in mind when honing your university blog.
First things first—your blog isn't just for your older audience members (i.e., faculty/staff, distinguished alumni, community members, etc.). In fact, according to a study from Sysomos, blog content is consumed by and large by people younger than 35—a whopping 75 percent. So you should take advantage of this safe space (where potential student recruits don't feel like they're being "sold to") to offer up something relatable, fun and, above all, useful. Be smart, interactive and at least occasionally lighthearted—make yourself share-worthy!
Don't get us wrong—you need a space to share your latest construction announcements or information about your endowments, academic papers, etc. But your press room and your blog should be separate entities. Don't mix your student-centric content with your PR-centric content. Keep your student blog squarely focused on its audience. Engage with content that isn't boastful or even solely specific to your college or university. In fact, according to OneSpot, nearly half of Gen-Z loses interest in brands that talk primarily about their own products and services. Offer up blog content that is relatable and at least partially white-labeled—it builds trust and value with your end consumer.
While attention span isn't a hard-and-fast rule across the entirety of this youngest generation, it's at least rampant enough for your content-marketing team to consider. Your blog content should be a healthy mix of long-form content, with a higher dose of short-form, "snackable" content. Your blogs should offer content that can be consumed quickly and without painstaking time commitment. The best way to mask content that runs on a little longer is to break it up—throw in useful, navigable headers, bullets and imagery. If your blog content starts to border on long-form, consider breaking it up into a series instead.
Speaking of repackaging, the lifetimes of your individual blog posts don't need to be fleeting. Invest in them. Use creative distribution strategies that go beyond simply sharing posts to Facebook. Convert your high-performing blogs into Instagram stories, short-form video or downloadables and take-ones. Your target audience is wildly connected when it comes to web channels—hit as many relevant and on-the-rise platforms as you can in distributing your best material.
One of the wisest investments when it comes to blogging is the positive impact it can have on your SEO—your search rankings and the relevant keywords you rank for are critical to attracting valuable student leads at key times in the college-decision process. Just keep in mind that this investment is long-term—it's not an overnight turnaround. Give your blog time to build an attractive and search-engine-friendly presence. Search Engine Journal found that there is a 8.5 times higher close rate on organic search leads versus those coming from print or direct mail.