Teens, Visual Storytelling and Higher Education Communications


It is no surprise that young people are fleeing Facebook in favor of other social media sites. In fact, Facebook even announced their concern about this during an earnings announcement last year.

It seems like there are new studies out on a regular basis showing the most used social media sites among particular demographics. The latest one I came across is from Piper Jaffray, an investment bank and asset management firm. Their study of 7,500 teens in the US shows that Instagram is the most used social site among this age group.

Related to this trend, there have been a number of good studies and analysis on the rise of visual storytelling. I have just started going through an excellent new book called The Power of Visual Storytelling by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio that has me contemplating how to integrate more visuals in my communications.

Communicating visually can be quite challenging. Many of us may be confident in storytelling with the written word, but probably less so from a graphic and visual point of view.

It seems that many schools and groups within higher education put the most emphasis on communicating via the written word. But if we want to be where our audiences are, then we probably need to think about increasing our efforts in visual storytelling and being present on those related sites.

While I personally don’t like SnapChat and see no point in using it for my business, there is no doubt that teens are flocking to this site and a handful of schools have set up campaigns for this platform to reach prospective students and publicize campus events. This would seem to be logical as 77 percent of college students are using Snap Chat, according to a study from New York based marketing firm Sumpto.

It is also important that we mobilize ambassadors to be digital storytellers. As part of my editorial series focused on best practice communications tips from academics, I did research to see which professors are using Instagram. I found just a very small number. If you work in communications for an undergraduate university, then I think it is important to mobilize ambassadors (this would include professors) to be present on these more visual social channels.

It is quite a challenge and I intend to explore this in more detail on my blog. If you know of any interesting examples of professors sharing their thought leadership visually, please let me know in the comments section.

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About Kevin Anselmo

Kevin Anselmo is the Founder and Principal of Experiential Communications, a consultancy focused on education. He helps brands within academia - whether individual or corporate - communicate with stakeholders. He also teaches communications and public relations workshops to different individuals and groups and just launched an online media training program for academics. Previously, Kevin was Director of Public Relations for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and prior to that managed the media relations for IMD Business School in Switzerland. In addition, he was an adjunct communications professor at Nyack College in New York. Currently based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Kevin lived and worked in Switzerland for eight years and in Germany for two years. He has led public relations initiatives in various countries around the world.
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