6 Things Tutors Can Learn from Merriam-Webster's Online Video Campaign

On October 12, 2010, in video, by Shannon Sweetser
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If you’re one of the many educational consultants, tutoring companies, and tutors who have yet to embrace online video as a means for sharing your brand with a wider audience, a Pew Research study as well as a Merriam-Webster case study may motivate you to put down the pen and start pressing ‘record.’

State of Online Video in 2010

There’s no better time to start producing educational-themed video since,according a Pew Research report entitled , 7 in 10 adult internet users (or nearly half of all U.S. adults) download or consume internet video regularly. Online video also continues to be extremely engaging within Generation Y and Millennial audiences; this generation of taste-makers and social-sharers consume more online video than any other group.

Educational consultants and tutors will be pleased to hear that consumption of educational-themed video has risen from 22% to 38% since 2007. At 15%, this increase is just slightly less than the comedic video category which experienced a 19% increase in consumption within the same three-year period.

Though more people are consuming online video than ever before, the trouble for  many independent tutors and educational consultants is finding a way to deliver video in a concise, entertaining way on topics important to their prospects. Fortunately, one brand who began fully embracing online video this year is already experiencing great success within the medium; let’s take a closer look at 6 things we can learn from this amazing company.

1. Keep it Simple

In their , Merriam-Webster attempts to answer tough questions about the English language and dictionary inclusion. These delicious nuggets of information (posted using YouTube) are pre-prepared and then recited by a member of the Merriam-Webster editing staff, who themselves are often experts on the topic of word meaning, pronunciation, and history.  Though the content may be at an expert level, the videos are comfortably lo-fi. They appear to require very little technical expertise and since the videos are all single shot, single audio track pieces, they likely require little editing, if at all.

2. If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It

This campaign was able to capture the attention of their target audience not only because the length of the online video is so short (many videos in the series are less than 2 minutes in length), but because their editing staff offers answers to tough questions…for free.

When considering what content to feature in your video, always consider what information, data, or knowledge you currently own or have access to that would be interesting for your prospects. The benefit is two-fold. 1) Your video content will take very little time for you to prepare, and 2) you’ll also breath new life into information you already own.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Drop the Act

One of the primary reasons the campaign has been so successful is that the editors weren’t afraid to ‘drop the act.’ While most grammarians and language historians are often unfairly categorized as Word or Grammar ‘Nazis’, these editors seem warm, entertaining and oftentimes even funny! If you close your eyes while watching one of these videos you may even believe you were listening to an anecdotal conversation at a summer cocktail party. As you can imagine, this conversational quality certainly differentiates Merriam-Webster from its often stuffy-seeming competitors.

4. Get a Little Controversial

The above video, a titillating grammarian-inspired video about the plural of octopus, features over 76,833 views since first being posted on July 2010. The success of this video was largely driven by the heated debate surrounding a particular grammatical queston. Many people have often wondered, “Which plural of octopus is correct?” This hot topic inspired individuals to not only watch the video, but share the topic around the web with other users after the video was consumed.

5. Use Specific Keywords and Titles

Before and after you post your video it”s important to ask yourself, “How is my audience going to discover my video?”   By uploading their videos to YouTube, Merriam-Webster not only joined their video with YouTube’s already enormous built-in community which is currently serving over 2 billion videos everyday and over 3.9 billion search queries (thus making it the world’s 2nd biggest search engine), they they also tapped into the global search engine, Google, as well.  According to a 2009 ComScore Search Rankings report, YouTube makes up over 28% of total Google searches. That’s why it’s so important to remember to tag and title your video with specific keywords that your prospects would use to discover your business. (Hint: they’re probably not usually looking for your brand’s name!)

6. Sharing is Caring

Remember, once you’ve uploaded your video publicly to YouTube, your journey is not yet finished. It’s important to share your videos with the incredible network of people who share video freely on social sharing sites like Twitter and Facebook, which currently have over 1 billion worldwide users combined. Merriam-Webster goes a step beyond that, too. They include the URL of their video on their YouTube page, driving traffic back to their website, but also post their videos on their website, twitter, and Facebook page encouraging their already established audience to share their content with their network.

As a tutor or educator how have you been using video to engage your students and audience? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

 

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  • http://blog.socrato.com Prashant Kaw

    Great synopsis Shannon! Tutors need to reach a global audience because their local students will soon be poached by other web-based services. I can especially relate to points 1) Keeping it simple, 3) Dropping the Act – say it like it is people and 4) Getting a little controversial – make it discussion worthy. That’s what makes content good and helps it spread, and thereby reach a wider audience.

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    [...] accrued in their line of work has the power to make them incredible artisans of video. Some of the best videos online are from people who are in the education field because they are naturally comfortable with the subject matter they are talking about. Since [...]

  • http://blog.socrato.com/how-to-add-color-to-your-tutoring-brand-using-facebook-3-examples/ How to Add Color to Your Tutoring Brand Using Facebook [3 Real Life Examples] | Socrato Learning Analytics Blog

    [...] already talked about some of the fantastic video content that Merriam-Webster has been putting together, but how they’re using it on Facebook is even better. They’re [...]

  • http://profiles.google.com/boundlesstechno Boundless Technologies

    I really agree with the facts that you have shared on this post. An interesting topic like this really enhances reader’s mind to have more effective decisions over a certain issue.

    UK Education Consultants

  • cctv karachi

     Thank you for another essential article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a complete way of writing? I have a presentation incoming week, and I am on the lookout for such information.

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