“People care about photography,” says Phyllis Graber Jensen, the Director of Photography and Video at Bates College. “They value how it communicates – photography communicates about feelings, it’s sort of like a direct pipeline to people’s emotions and hearts.”
Like Phyllis, university communicators and marketers across the country are using visual content to catch the attention of students, prospective students, parents and alumni. University websites, microsites, blogs and social media channels are packed with imagery to share life on campus in an engaging way.
So how can your university’s communications team optimize your visual content? Here are five tips that will help you get more from every photo and video in your visual media library.
5 Tips to Get More from Photos and Videos in Higher Ed Digital Marketing
1. Share quickly
Sharing a photo or video while it’s still relevant can help you set the tone online for an event that’s happening on campus. If your fans are all rallying around the team in the basketball stadium, chances are they are also part of the conversation around the game on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t wait to publish photos from the game until after the buzzer. Share them in the moment, while your audience is paying attention.
This requires a lightning fast workflow, like the Purdue University Athletics team’s in-game workflow. Purdue’s photographer shoots basketball games with a camera that allows him to make selects on the fly, and tethers to a laptop for fast upload into the team’s cloud-based visual media library. That way, the sports information director can access and share photos to the team’s website and social media channels just minutes after they’re shot.
Moraine Valley Community College has also mastered a fast photography workflow. The school’s photographer, Glenn Carpenter, FTP’s his images from his camera to his cloud-based photo library through a wifi hotspot he carries in his pocket. The social media manager can grab content from the library and publish it immediately. Why is this so important? As Glenn says, “It’s Instagram, not Inaweekagram.”
Phyllis Graber Jensen from Bates speeds up her workflow by using the Libris Uploader App. She shoots with a Fujifilm camera, sends the photos to her phone, posts them to Instagram and uses the app to send them to the team’s library, where she adds valuable metadata and saves them for use in the future.
If you share quickly, your photo will get more attention, and will be more likely to be the iconic image of the game your fans remember (and want to buy for their fan caves, but we’ll get to that in a minute).
2. Capture the context
Use metadata to record the story behind every image. Not only does metadata power fast search, but the added context can help you make better use of the photos, whether you’re sharing them immediately or archiving them for the future.
The team at Bates College uses the IPTC Description/Caption field to capture context that could turn into an Instagram caption, newsletter copy or information for a blog post.
Check out how this photo looks on the back end of their visual media library, complete with Description/Caption, who took the photo, where and when it was taken.
Now, see how the metadata informs the caption when the photo appears on the school’s Instagram.
"Someone came in here and looked at our stuff and said 'you guys are really vibing off of each other.'" — Sasha Lennon '16 of Cape Elizabeth, a double major in studio art and psychology (left) and Natalie Silver '16 of Bennington, Vt., a double major in studio art and history, throw pots for the Annual Senior Exhibition in their ground-floor Olin Arts studio. As co-coordinators of the Annual Entering Student Outdoor Program (along with classmate Jordan Cargill), they are close friends who share not only a studio but also an interest in the balance of form and function in their ceramic art. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/ Bates College) #batescollege #potters #ceramics #GreatDaytobeaBobcat #BatesNation #beingsofbates #olinartscenter
Metadata also helps you reduce the risk of incorrectly crediting an image. If your university sources content from a number of photographers and videographers, you need to preserve that information and track your usage rights. Metadata is the best way to keep track, since it will always travel with the image. Bonus tip: Use a metadata policy to keep everyone on your team on the same page.
3. Make your content accessible
Your school’s photography can meet a wide range of demands for people across the university. You might use one photo shoot to sell tickets to your spring musical on the website, share highlights on social media, and commemorate the performance in the alumni magazine well after the curtain falls.
These different uses are most likely handled by people in a number of different departments, so you need to make your content easily accessible. Store all of your content in one cloud-based library, then grant access to everyone who needs to use that content.
The University of Miami Athletics department has a visual media library of half a million images. The team uses Libris to make all of that content available to people across the university so a photo like this…
… could live on in email blasts, next year’s baseball posters, sales collateral, and perhaps new prints to hang up in the locker room.
An easy access library is crucial when teams across the university are collaborating on big projects. For example, Northern Michigan University’s visual media library played a key role in the school’s rebrand. Everyone from designers to department heads to the school’s art director could easily log in and see all of the images available to them.
And, as an additional way to streamline access, some schools integrate their visual media libraries with single sign-on. Because Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has integrated Libris through SSO, team members can easily access the visual media library through their single university login and find exactly what they need.
Making your content easily accessible saves time across teams, takes the burden off of your school’s photographer to fill image requests, and allows you to use your photos more frequently and more effectively.
4. Repurpose content
Universities are bustling communities where there’s always something new to cover. But when you invest in creating content, you should use it for a number of purposes so you’re getting as much return as you can (not to mention, your students and alumni will love a good #TBT).
To repurpose content, you have to follow the steps above. You must add metadata to your visual assets so you can run a search and find them quickly when you need to use them again. And, you must have an easily accessible library – a go-to place for finding content.
For example, when Catholic University hosted Pope Francis in 2015, four photographers worked together to capture the historic occasion from every angle. When the day was over and the Pope had moved on to his next stop, the team uploaded over a thousand photos to the university’s visual media library to be used for years to come.
“These pictures will be used 100 years from now,” said Ed Pfueller, the photographer who led the team during the Pope’s visit.
Check out an early use of the photos in this commemorative video, which was published in a spotlight called, Walking with Francis, One Year Later, on the school’s website.
Repurposing content helps you get more from your investment in photos and videos, but more importantly, it allows you to highlight important moments in your school’s history.
5. Sell photos
Selling your photos is a fantastic way to generate revenue from work you’re already doing. The same photos that are catching the eyes of your fans on social media and on your website could also make a meaningful graduation gift or framed photo for a fan cave.
The best type of image to sell is an image that captures the spirit of your school or the spirit of an event. Check out this example from University of Tennessee’s Vol Photo Store:
Another popular image in the Vol Photo Store is an archive image that celebrates 50 years of the Vols’ tradition of running through the T.
Whether you’re selling sports imagery, snapshots from festivals or arts events, or landscape shots of your campus, you will be providing an added service for your fans.
Cover photo by Josh LeClair, courtesy of Northern Michigan University.