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A Magnificent 7 HE Digital Marketing Sparks from CASE Europe 2017

Posted on Sep 30, 2017
A Magnificent 7 HE Digital Marketing Sparks from CASE Europe 2017

At the recent CASE Europe Conference in Birmingham, I gave a quick tour of some of the most inspiring Higher Education digital marketing out there right now. We covered everything from student recruitment to fundraising; from snapchat spectacles to quidditch broomsticks. We even had an academic taking over a university Instagram account for a whole week. The audience played along, bookmarking their own stand-out examples with stickers on sheets and many of them then then shared with me their results. So which of our 40 examples got the most stickers?


The two big winners came from Deakin University (Australia) – certainly no strangers to our blogs! First up was ‘Me in a Minute’. It’s been around for a few years but is consistently one of the most popular examples we share in our presentations. It’s a brilliant example of how a university and students can work together, in this case to co-create one minute videos of mutual benefit – a video CV of achievement for final year student and a shop window for prospective new students. All done with smartphones, social media archives and Dropbox. Check out an example courtesy of Sarah Vansoest and her one minute pitch.

Equal first was the wonderful collection of content that we know as #DeakinAbroad. What started as a smart aggregation of Instagram pictures showcasing students’ own pictures of their study abroad adventures, has now morphed into a multi-media platform. Drawing on over 11,000 pictures from Instagram alone, Deakin are celebrating their student experiences with Facebook and Twitter also in the mix. User generated storytelling at its best. And so straightforward too!


Third in the rankings was Full Sail University (USA) with their instant emoji polling and rapid engagement tactics. Their social media is awash with content like this and it’s popular stuff, racking up the likes, shares and comments. But is it just a little frivolous? Not really, not when you’re a university specialising in the creative world. As they say, you have to live and breathe it a little!


Social communication is increasingly going darker, under the radar, out of our view. Messenger apps and ‘the group’ are hosting the conversation. That’s why we see Adidas creating WhatsApp ‘Squads’ to get in on the local trends and ASOS splintering their Instagram profiles into individual ‘insiders’ like ASOS_Ashley.

Our intel shows us that universities are heading the same way. In fact there’s plenty of evidence out there already, such as our fourth ranked example – the University of Twente’s ‘dark social’ busting Facebook Messenger initiative. Very simply, prospective international students can hear it all from current students in the most informal, authentic and reassuring way.


Earlier in the day there had been some debate as to the longevity and impact of Virtual Reality. Well, offering a case for a big future were the examples that came in at fifth and sixth. Both were technically ‘out-of-sector’ but both could prove a huge inspiration for educators and marketers worldwide. Lockheed Martin’s ‘Field Trip to Mars’ used a virtual bus to get young scientists and engineers of the future on board, quite literally. Check out the video of this multi-award winning initiative.

Meanwhile Greenpeace proved to our audience that the best way to get donors really engaged was to immerse them in exactly what you’re fundraising for – in this case using a VR trip to showcase the environments we all need to save.


Our final spark of inspiration making up the magnificent seven came courtesy of the University of Gloucestershire who prove that nothing beats the draw of a broomstick, special effects and the fear of missing out. With a green screen and a broomstick, the university took photos of students that were instantly transformed into the special effects of a Harry Potter film. And then they were shared on social of course. And lots were. So what’s the benefit? Well the university gets to talk about its courses that have resulted in alumni going onto creative film careers, and the students get to sample the technology. And a little bit of #FOMO too. Uplifting stuff! Wingardium leviosa as Potter might exclaim!

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