All posts by Connor Kelly

What Higher Ed Can Learn from YouTube Influencers

Influencer Marketing for EDU: Insights from Three YouTube Sensations

A new semester means new generations of incoming students on your campus. We’ve all seen the research on how young adults are drifting away from traditional social networks in favor of newcomers like Snapchat, Instagram and Youtube. Recent articles from Adweek and AOL Platforms show that Instagram and Snapchat activity is thriving among digital natives, and YouTube is the leading social platform for marketing and sales.


As students evolve their use of technology it’s important for colleges and universities to monitor these trends and explore ways to create resonate content. We’ve written a lot about video advertising and the evolving use of Snapchat for higher education. One topic we haven’t covered yet is influencer marketingand it’s a huge opportunity area for EDU.


ICYMI, influencers are public figures with klout and reach in the digital world. They range from celebrity endorsements to product reviews from widely-known social media icons. Amazon recently opened up its social media influencers program to YouTube stars. So what can colleges and universities learn from popular YouTube influencers?


Well, your students are most likely loyal followers of at least one of the YouTube sensations mentioned in this post. These stars have millions of subscribers who anxiously await the release of their next video. Here are three YouTube personalities who have gone viral and what higher education marketers can learn from them.


PewDiePie (Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg) 54.1 million subscribers

Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, famously known as PewDiePie, is a Swedish comedian and video producer who is known for entertaining his viewers with vlogs and video game commentary. In his Let’s Play video game series, he acts like he is playing with his best friend, introducing himself in a goofy high-pitched voice. His engagement with fans has earned him recognition by outlets such as Forbes and Time 100. By early 2017, he uploaded 3,500 videos to his YouTube channel, 400 of which he made privately. He is beloved by his fans because he knows how to reach his audience with the content they are looking for.



What’s in it for higher ed?

Creating the right content for your prospective students is challenging to begin with, but in-house video production is another story altogether. A great takeaway to consider from this influencer is that sometimes the best videos aren’t perfect. They’re real, friendly and fun. Check out our recent webinar on What Gen Z and Millennials Need from EDU Video for more insights on video marketing best practices for higher education.


HolaSoyGerman (German Garmendia) 31.2 million subscribers

German Garmendia is a Chilean YouTuber who is a comedian, musician, singer and writer. He creates videos under his HolaSoyGerman channel, which is the most-subscribed Spanish speaking YouTube channel in the world. He has produced numerous songs with his band Ancud, and has published a book titled #Chupaelperro, that he talks about in his videos. His versatile entertainment style has made him one of the most influential entertainers in the Spanish-speaking community.



What’s in it for higher ed?

German Garmendia is proof that there is more than one way to excite and entertain your audience. He uses all of his talents and skills to give viewers an entertaining experience with his content. The same can be said when it comes to the recruiting process for higher education. There are countless opportunities to reach your perfect-fit students throughout their enrollment journey. Think of creative ways to engage your campus influencers (like faculty, current students and alumni) and get them in front of the camera as representatives of your brand. Video webinars, live Q&As and interviews are all great ways to connect prospects with your campus community through digital channels.


Jenna Mourey (Jenna Marbles) 17 million subscribers

Jenna Mourey is one of the biggest personalities on YouTube. She discusses what it’s like to be a millennial and handles all of the work that goes into making her videos, including writing, filming, editing and publishing. She now has over two billion views on her YouTube channel, Jenna Marbles. Her videos promote her popular podcast called Jenna and Julien, as well as her music that you can find on her website. This marketing strategy has worked well for her as her podcast is just as popular as her YouTube videos.



What’s in it for higher ed?

The biggest takeaway from Jenna’s work is to take a comprehensive approach to your digital marketing efforts. The journey doesn’t end once a student enrolls. Ongoing engagement leads to brand loyalty so make sure they are fully engaged with other areas of the school and are truly invested in your brand. Jenna has proven that once you have loyal subscribers and followers on one platform, it’s easier to direct them to other channels and further enhance your brand.


Lessons in Influencer Marketing for Higher Ed

These three YouTube stars all have one thing in common: they know their audience and how to create content that engages them. Whether it’s through video or another form of content, knowing what a prospective student wants to get out of your university or program is key to giving them a stellar experience that keeps them coming back for more.


Colleges and universities have the opportunity to provide useful and engaging content throughout the entire lifecycle of a student. What touch-points are you focused on this semester and how are you integrating video and new channels to best reach your students? Tweet us @convergeorg to share your success stories. We’d love to hear from you.

7 Edtech Companies Supporting Student Success

Choosing a college to enroll in is one of the biggest decisions that young adults are asked to make. With financial strains, lack of guidance and pressure from outsiders, young adults are facing more stress in their college search than ever before. As one money mentor from NextGenVest states, “People are being asked to make the biggest financial decisions of their lives at 18, without any guidance.”

Educational technology gurus and innovators acknowledge these stresses and have created platforms to help digital natives through the enrollment process. Many ed tech companies are making sure that these students have a smooth transition from high school to college or from college to graduate school. Here are a few that are changing the game in enrollment.


1. NextGenVest

A money mentoring company that helps future students not overpay for college. They help students find scholarships, financial aid apps and negotiate tuition rates so students get the best experience possible.


2. Kaltura

Emerging as one of the leading online educational video companies in the world, Kaltura works with some of the most well known brands in education to capture lectures and provide interactive content to promote student learning.



A mobile app for admitted students to further engage them in their campus community and classroom environment. This app has proven statistics of increase in engagement and lower attrition rates that helps admitted students feel like a part of their college or university before they arrive on campus.



4. SignalVine

A higher ed text messaging platform that uses student data to deliver important information at the right time. This keeps students on top of important deadlines and keeps them on the right track towards their degree.


5. PackBack

A company featured on SharkTank (and received a $250,000 investment from Mark Cuban), helps students save up to 90% on their textbooks by price comparing with big-name book retailers. Students save money on textbooks and have easier access via phone or laptop.


6. Story2

Provides online writing courses that help high school students craft memorable essays and personal statements. They also provide guidance for writing steps and techniques that students will need upon graduating.


7. UniversityNow

This company has a big (and impressive) mission: to make higher education available and affordable to people everyone. UniversityNow is building a network of universities that represent the best ways for anyone to earn a college degree from an accredited U.S. university.


Helping Students Succeed

These companies provide different platforms and services, but all have one common goal: to help students succeed. I know from my personal experience that this process can cause a lot of stress and frustration. These companies are making impressive contributions to the higher education community and supporting students as they go after their dreams. What technology is your institution using to support student success? Share your examples in the comments below.

Identifying and Recruiting Millennials with Grit


According to, one in four U.S. millennials are parents. What does this mean for education marketers? Well, your prospects are more than potential students for your program—they’re key influencers on future generations of students, too.

For better or for worse, there are a lot of stereotypes floating around about the disposition of millennials. However, there’s a good portion of this demographic that are striving to become role models for people in their communities. We’re calling them millennials with grit.

As we look for the best-fit students for our programs, it’s important to understand how and why these driven millennials view the world the way they do. Here are some key personality traits to look for as you identify and recruit these individuals.

They embrace rejection with positivity.

We can all agree that the feeling of rejection and failure is one that doesn’t sit well in our stomachs when we go to sleep at night. While some millennials deal with rejection by playing the blame game, others rise above it with positivity.

Working as a sales associate at Signature Inc, I signed up to go door-to-door selling Verizon Fios to people who were not so eager to have me on their front porch. One cold rainy day in December, I was on my sixth hour and eightieth house of the day. A man answered the door to me, waving my hand hello with a big smile on my face.

In a high-pitched perky voice I said, “Hey I’m just stopping over for dinner, is it ready yet?” He couldn’t help but laugh. This man was so happy and surprised by my positive attitude in 30-degree weather that he was willing to listen to my pitch. I ended up saving him money on his cable bill and we had a great conversation that ended with him telling me, “Thank you for making my night.”

Keeping a positive attitude through adversity and rejection is easier said than done. Millennials with grit adopt and demonstrate this skill in their place of work and day-to-day lives.

They know and pursue their purpose.


Millennials with grit also like to give back and work towards the greater good.

They want to work for companies and consume products that support a cause or charity. More than other generations, millennials with grit define their role in society as one with social impact. They strive to make their community a safer and more enjoyable place. Identifying these individuals as prospective students will help strengthen the reputation of your school and community.

They make the right choice—even when it’s unpopular.

It’s easy to identify a millennial that will go with what his/her friends or colleagues are doing, rather than one who will make the unpopular, but right choice. Mind Gym USA—a psychology based learning solutions company—performed a case study on this sort of conformity.


The image above shows a test where the answer to the question (which line is the same length as line A?) seems clear. The trick here is they told the participant that the first three people who answered the question stated line two was the same length as line A. Their studies showed that 36.8 percent of participants gave incorrect answers by responding with line two. The point being that over one-third of participants were influenced by the popular choice.

Take inspiration from this study and find your own litmus test for identifying those millennials with grit—the ones that are willing to go against the grain and challenge the status quo.

Finding these millennials can be challenging.

But they’re the ones who are going to make your campus community a better place. They’ll go onto to change the field they pursue, make new discoveries and sing praise for their experience with your brand. Millennials with grit will give back to your institution—and the world. If you find students with any of these three qualities, you just strengthened the quality and impact of your program.

New and Next at TargetX: Three Takeaways from 2016 CRM Summit

One of higher education’s most anticipated annual events – the CRM Summit – wrapped up on Tuesday, July 19. Presidents, vice presidents, deans, administrators and other professionals walked away with a better understanding of CRM best practices, inbound marketing and data tracking. Each person wanted to gain an advantage to bring back to campus, and this year’s event didn’t disappoint. Between the numerous sessions, workshops and keynote speakers, attendees had various opportunities to enhance their CRM strategy. While there were many conference takeaways, three stand out.

How to Raise an Adult

To kick off day two of the conference, Julie Lythncott-Haims, former dean of freshman at Stanford University, delivered a brilliant presentation on how to raise an adult. She discussed her experiences with college students incapable of figuring out real-life problems without help from parents or guardians. As she engaged with the audience about a relevant problem in our society, they hung from her every word.


In Julie’s New York Times Best Seller, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, she describes the dilemma. Parents are determined to ensure that their children are on the path to greatness, but few allow them to find that path independently. Whether they’re completing their child’s homework to achieve a good grade or overscheduling their kids to exhaustion, parents are asserting control over their children’s lives.

The audience gave Julie a standing ovation after her presentation. Her lecture hit home for many attendees, not only as higher education professionals, but also as parents.

Networking Opportunities Galore

Nine sponsors and various universities and corporations attended this year’s CRM Summit, with a grand total of around five hundred attendees. What does that mean for a sponsor like Converge? Networking opportunities!

Lunch Panel

The photo above was taken at a lunch where attendees asked current students, corporate members and university members about current best practices in social media marketing. We spread the word about Converge and also contributed suggestions based on what we’ve seen work for our clients.

CRM Tips, Tricks and Tools for Veterans and Newbies

With numerous open discussions and mini training sessions, there were plenty of chances for CRM managers and administrators to learn. I sat in on two sessions that generated a lot of great discussion.

John Sterni from the University of the Pacific and Christine Kensey from TargetX hosted the first session. They addressed newly employed CRM managers and administrators and offered guidance on getting comfortable with their CRM. They also addressed veteran CRM managers and administrators looking for new technology and tools. John and Christine gave session attendees great content and tools to implement immediately.

The second session, hosted by the University of Boston, covered how every interaction is crucial to your CRM. From open houses to on- and off-campus events and campus tours, successful interactions are crucial to the success of your CRM. In both sessions, presenters made sure each CRM manager and administrator was better equipped to manage their CRM.

The TargetX CRM Summit was a great learning experience. We had a great time – not only educating people about Converge and the work we do, but also learning from other organizations. This was a Summit we won’t soon forget!

Speaking of great conferences, check out what happened at SMX Advanced in Seattle. Hayley Warack shares seven tactical takeaways.