Villains, Ducks and Flash Mobs: Four Ways YouTube Can Go Beyond the Brochure

Jennifer Doak is the online communications specialist at CASE.

We all know your institution has amazing faculty, first-class students and a meaningful piano soundtrack—but what makes it compelling? Let’s take a look at some creative (and not necessarily high-budget) uses of online video.

1. Tell stories.


Valencia College, “Dear Valencia”: This promotional video centers on students writing letters to the school, the faculty and eventually the community, thanking Valencia for believing in their abilities. It’s a simple concept, but the editing and content are incredibly well-done—and the cast outtakes give it a real human touch.

University of West Georgia, “Go West”: These three promotional videos for the University of West Georgia use a great slogan, “Go West,” to its advantage. Proactive students head to campus on different roads, using various vehicles, to find their own way to success. Simple, effective and beautifully done.

2. Create intrigue.


Park Tudor School, “Founder’s Day 2011: A mystery’s a-brewing on campus”:  I just love this Founder’s Day mystery. A team of two students travel across campus trying to find the president’s backpack, solving clues that use trivia about the school’s history. The video features a cackling villain, “Yackety Sax,” and karate-chopping staff members. It may not be the most viral video out there, but it’s a great way to build community—and I bet alumni loved it.

Whitworth University, “The Quest for the Golden Pinecone”: The pirate mascot’s choose-your-own-adventure-style journey was featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education earlier this summer, and for good reason. Admitted students were invited to watch the video and then choose what would happen next – progressive videos were then linked to the Class of 2015 Facebook page.

3. Find out what’s hot.


Online content is all about creating, sharing and paying homage to memes—why not join in?

University of Oregon, “Call Me a Duck”: Oregon’s Office of Admissions is lucky enough to have a catchy custom-made song from On the Rocks, an a cappella group that’s pretty good at going viral.

Oberlin College’s Friday parody: Rebecca Black’s infamous earworm gets the commencement treatment for the Class of 2011.

Murray State Flash Mob: Flash mobs have become a huge trend on campuses in the past year, but I think Murray State’s got some amazing choreography here. I’m also a sucker for 90s dance tunes, school mascots and presidents riding the train. C & C Music Factory, anyone?

(Honorable flash-mob mentions go to the University of Minnesota’ s celebration of the College of Science and Engineering’s 75th anniversary and Brigham Young University’s improvement on the wave. )

4. Show that you’re listening.

You may remember a previous blog post on Florida International University’s “Betsy Reads Your Comments” videos. But it’s not the only institution out there responding to their audience through YouTube.

Aberystwyth University’s social media team answers frequently (or infrequently) asked questions, taken from its Facebook page, and puts them on an interactive YouTube menu. I love its top 10 tips: “Don’t get too attached to kitchen utensils” is advice we should all pay attention to, in my opinion.


Do you have numbers to add to the list? Other fantastically creative ways institutions are using YouTube? Post ‘em in the comments!

3 responses to “Villains, Ducks and Flash Mobs: Four Ways YouTube Can Go Beyond the Brochure

  1. Gary: I LOVE IT. Definitely an Oscar-worthy performance right there. Will gladly make “Be Epic” No. 5 on the list!
    Deedie: What a creative way to share facts about Auburn! Another great example of creating intrigue. Seems like everyone is having a blast, too!

  2. 5. Be Epic
    When Davidson College wanted to thank it’s donors for their generosity, they decided to avoid the normal thank you video and do something a little more dramatic. They crafted their thank you video into the form of a movie trailer for a popular film that had recently been in theaters and created a nice buzz in the process.
    Check it out here —-> http://youtu.be/CrkxfZv8Clc

  3. Great article and links! Thanks for sharing. Continuing the spirit of fun, at Auburn this summer we decided to share some championship spirit OFF the field, with our mascot stealing the crystal football from the BCS trophy. Ten “Crystal Capers” were done, with Aubie sharing the football in all sorts of mischievous ways (from theatre to farmer’s markets),allowing us to share some facts about the university’s other programs and research, and ended with Aubie “returning” the crystal football — live on field — at the first football game. The “return” is seen in the last caper. It was a ton of fun… http://www.auburn.edu/caper

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