Research for the world with the London School of Economics (LSE)

Join us for this week's Most Clicked where we discuss a fantastic piece from LSE titled 'Research for the World', a content hub based on research.

LSE is our favourite to win with its “Research for the World” collection. Here’s a university that understands the power of repurposing content. For each of its long-form research articles, it reformats content as posts and videos for LinkedIn. The results? Thousands of video views and astronomical reach on content that would have otherwise struggled for traffic.

Nathan Monk
Hello, and welcome to Most Clicked. I’m your host, Nathan from SMILE. And I’m joined this week by Kyle, the Education Marketer every week I seem to be tripping over that worse and worse each week, you know? Kyle, how are you doing?

Kyle Campbell
Yeah good, just me and you this week, Matt’s having problems with the internet again.

Nathan Monk
Just the two of us, we’ll have to change the theme tune. This week we are talking about a very cool thing from LSE aren’t we Kyle?

Kyle Campbell
Yeah, yeah, good stuff coming out of this uni. In addition to its world-leading research, obviously, there’s good marketing here as well. So the piece that I’m looking at is how they actually package up the research. It’s called Research for the World, which is something and the thing that pulled me into this, I’m always interested in what universities do with content hubs. I think every university now has something like this, where they pull together a lot of stories, which based on research or whatever the themes are, and they pull it into a decent publication looking piece and, you know, LSE have done a really good job of this. You can organise content by categories, and they’ve got a nice little trending section at the top, and they can talk about the actual research themselves. There’s a lot going on here, it’s well thought out, and there’s a range of different mediums going on as well. But the thing that made me highlight it, and what I think sets it apart from a lot of different content hubs is it has a decent social strategy to go with it. And quite often on their socials, I see them take a piece or a long-form piece from this hub and repurpose it across platforms in a meaningful way for the channel in which they’re publishing.

So I read a piece recently, and there was a video on there, talking about the topic of discussion. And they took that video, and essentially wrote a decent length text blog post to explain it on LinkedIn. And as a result, it’s getting lots of traction. And if you want to compare that, you know, helps you understand where the value of different channels because they did the same thing with the same video and just published it on YouTube. And it’s hardly got any views. So what they do is they take, they work out which channels will work best for it and they really lean into that. And, you know, for me, I think this is like a big opportunity for unis and I know we all kind of publish stuff all the time. But I think taking these long-form pieces, actually chopping them up and really repurposing them across the channels that are appropriate is certainly a way to unlock this otherwise quite unwieldy content. There’s all the risk that sits on these hubs, and it just doesn’t get seen. So I know Nath, you’ve had a few experiences setting these things up I don’t know what you thought of this.

Nathan Monk
I like it, it reminds me of some other bits and bobs that I’ve seen throughout the years. The most notable one that I can remember is one from Boston University. It’s called the Bostonia. And I think this the Bostonia harks back to conversations we’ve had Kyle on previous episodes. You know, just keep turning up. It’s about cadence and consistency. And I think they’ve been going since, well, I did a quick look and the earliest issue I could find was 2018. But I’m sure I saw it before that. But you know, it’s been going for a good four years so they’ve been really good in terms of keeping churning this stuff out. And it’s developed over the years but my question to you, Kyle, is around the LSE one.

This is a feeling it’s a common question that I ask you whenever your newsletter, it’s like, how did you come across this and I’m particularly interested in terms of a content hub piece, because of what you said about how the disconnected nature that these can have some times and it’s all very well and good doing these, but you’ve still got to kind of get people to them. And I do a lot of talking about microsites and how they need to be connected within flagship digital estates and stuff like that. So I’m really interested to know, how did you find this?

Kyle Campbell
I discovered it via LinkedIn. And I think that speaks volumes, doesn’t it? And you know, I definitely feel that in HE now, there does seem to be a lot of talk around discovery and I think a lot that’s been brought about by TikTok and how people are, are literally discovering all kinds of content they didn’t know they needed via that for your page.

Nathan Monk
I think I think I’ve slipped into one of my own cardinal sins there assuming that everybody finds it via the flagship website, right? And that’s not necessarily the case because I imagine well, no, I don’t imagine I know that one of the important things for a content hub like this is the SEO benefit and bringing in an audience via content rather than somebody searching LSE in Google, you know.

Kyle Campbell
Yeah, yeah. And that there’s a balance, I was having a conversation earlier with someone actually, like there’s a balance between having contests content serve that the needs of discovery, versus that of intent. And I think over the years, definitely, of the last 10 years, marketers have considerably optimised content activities to serve intent, ie, they’re capturing demand, right? Yeah. Whereas now that the pivot was almost swinging in, maybe not swinging the other direction, but there’s definitely much more attention being paid to being discoverable and, you know, turning up regularly, and that having that awareness, so when the customer or the student is ready to make the decision, they think of you first. And that’s when intent kicks in. But we haven’t really been paying a lot of attention to that, that wider discovery piece. And I do feel like publishing natively in social channels. And doing so regularly really, really aids with that, because if you’re the one who turns up and provides something meaningful time and time again, it’s going to be you who someone first thinks of when they are ready to buy and have that moment of intent.

Nathan Monk
I guess, though, I know so many universities that have wanted to go down this route, that so many universities have said “Oh, we’ve got all these stories to tell them, we don’t have the platform to tell them”. And I also know a lot of those universities never end up actually, like making it with it. And I think that as like as good as LSE and Bostonia is. There’s something quite intimidating about them like for the sector. So you know, I always try and say what the takeaways from today’s episode and stuff and I guess like how do you break it down? How do you start one of these because it is so intimidating to go oh, well, the Bostonia has got four years worth of content on us, how can we possibly ever compete with that, but it is down to cadence it is down to turning up on a regular basis and going through with it. But as a writer, Kyle, do you have any other top tips for how to get started?

Kyle Campbell
Yeah, I mean, for me, it’s, it’s usually built around your objective, and, and the window in which that can be delivered. So with content specifically. And when you’re talking about finding a niche and then becoming discoverable for a topic. I tend to first identify what topic you want to be discovered for, link it with a business objective, but then critically have that, that period of time in which you intend to achieve that. Because if you’re running a campaign, and this is why I say that if you’re in content marketing, you shouldn’t be running campaigns, because campaigns are kind of like a short term sort of solution for marketing if you like, the focused activity. Content marketing is much more initiative based so it’s a really long tail. So if you’re looking to build your topical niche, you’re looking at 18 months, people, you know it, it takes time. And I think that’s the first thing I bear in mind. And then after that time, you look holistically at the objectives. So if your objective is to, you know, increase enrollments in a certain subject, just for just the sake of argument here, you look at that over a period of 18 months, you don’t look at it in the context of did this piece of content drive me one enrollment, because you’re never going to get a good answer from that. It’s always the collective effort of a content marketing strategy that pays dividends. It’s never one piece of content. And I joke I say, look at the content I published, if I looked at any piece in isolation, it would always be a failure. You know, I would have given up years ago. But because you look at it all together, and do its work in the macro view or content marketing. It’s never in the micro.

Nathan Monk
It’s a really, really good point. I know that there are a number of services out there, Shorthand, a SaaS product thing called Shorthand, is very cool. And it kind of majors on being able to create these long-form story posts a bit like, everybody has always seen the BBC versions of them with the kind of parallax scrolling stuff. And I’ve seen a few universities have started to adopt that. And I do, I do think that it’s actually got like a magazine view, you know, builds a kind of blog out of it. But often, what I see at least is a few key investments, and then just kind of left to rot. And you know, that that seems so prevalent throughout a lot of university marketing things, you get, like three or four halo pieces. And then for whatever reason, it just dies off. I’d love to see more stuff like LSE actually because I feel like I’m talking more about other what other people are doing and not what LSE are doing and LSE are doing a great job with what they’ve put together here.

Kyle Campbell
You’re actually right. And I want to pick up on your point there of good projects starting with great intentions and then not being picked up. And you’re thinking the same issue actually, I covered a couple of podcasts and one was from Liverpool. Production value is awesome. It’s such a good podcast and the marketing podcasts aren’t as good as this one, right. And I get it. It’s a limited series. And you know, that’s fine for students starting university, but I’m listening to the talent of the host and listening to how she’s interviewing people, the topics on the discussion, the production value, and I’m thinking I can’t get my head around it. Why stop? If you just carried on doing this, to build something? So so cool, and sponsorship worthy as well, in my opinion.

Nathan Monk
I’m so glad you bought that because I remember reading that I was like, oh, yeah, it’s so cool. And I’d had this lightbulb moment. But in like series, I don’t know why, particularly in the podcast world, universities aren’t taken advantage of series, and like do six episodes, and then kind of like reboot or reset and do another six episodes, like just like, put the investment there, prove that it works. And then almost like go back to the VC for the next season sort of thing and say this work. Let’s do it again. Let’s roll that out. And that’s actually something that the Bostonia does really well as well, is that it’s an online magazine but it doesn’t use any of the horrible things like those flippy, PDFs or anything. But it does take some of the notions of a magazine. So it has the notion of like think volumes or series or something like that. And so it produces a number of articles in a set period, and then kind of snapshots that and that land locks it and it’s like, okay, let’s do that again. So it doesn’t feel like I think with a blog, I’ve never seen a university blog done fantastically because that feels like this almost a treadmill effect where it’s just constantly ongoing and never change, where the whole series kind of categorization allows you to do that little bit of a reset or a reboot each time and go oh, you know, we’re going to tackle a slightly different theme this time. So I mean, was it Liverpool you said it was? It would be awesome if they could like go, okay, yeah, season two coming this autumn.

Kyle Campbell
Different topic, but same media, same area, and just keep it going. I’ve seen universities do podcasts, this one from Wabash uni in the states and that’s been going for 13 years. I think it’s something like that something ridiculous. And funnily enough, the director behind that has a background in media publishing, so they get it. So yeah, it is possible but yeah, I just I really hope we start to see more stuff like this in the space.

Nathan Monk
Cool. All right. Well, I think we’ve done everything we set out to achieve here, Kyle, including takeaways, how amazing. Well, to everybody watching at home. Thank you very much for watching. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, please do consider subscribing or drop us a like. Thank you very much. See you next week.

Default image
Elliott Barnicle

Lead Designer