Of all the new features that Facebook has implemented in the past couple of years, Facebook Live has arguably been the most successful. Introduced in 2016, it is now the world’s most popular live streaming platform, surpassing Snapchat, Periscope, and even YouTube shortly after its launch.
To date, Facebook Live has hosted over 3.5 billion videos, and the social media giant claims that close to 2 billion people have viewed streams through the feature.
The platform has also proven itself to be a valuable tool for schools, allowing them to capture special moments on campus, engage directly with their online community in real-time, and boost engagement and visibility across the board.
If you’re not on Facebook Live yet, here are a few ways your school can get itself on air and join in the fun.
1. Facebook Live is a Great Place to Answer Prospective Students’ Questions
One of the greatest advantages Facebook Live has over other social media engagement tools is that it allows you to interact with your audience in real-time. With that in mind, what better way to make your broadcasts count than to use them to answer your prospective students’ most pertinent questions?
Try putting together a stream with your admissions team, key members of faculty, or other important figures at your school, and invite potential applicants to ask about anything they might want to know before applying.
During your broadcast, you can invite users to ask questions in the comments section. Your team will be able to monitor them in real-time and provide substantial answers, but in an informal setting where your responses are less likely to seem pre-rehearsed or forced.
Example: The University of Salford hosted a Q&A session on Facebook Live for prospective applicants to its MSc in Public Health programme with faculty members. The video attracted 2,200 views.
This approach is a proactive way to speak to leads who may be very interested in your school, but haven’t quite made their minds up about applying. It allows them to address their biggest pain points and potential barriers directly in an informal yet personal setting, while also being drawn into participating in a wider discussion with your entire online community.
2. Facebook Live is Perfect for Online Campus Tours
As the education sector has become more international, online campus tours have become increasingly popular. With students coming from further and wider than ever before, they may not have the time and resources to visit your school before committing to enrollment.
Online campus tours offer a solution to this problem, giving students a glimpse of what lies in store for them without ever having to leave the comfort of their own home. While many video or VR channels can be used to facilitate these events, the immediacy of Facebook Live is hard to beat. Prospective students can join your tours as they happen and put their own questions and comments to your tour guides as they are being shown around your campus and classrooms. Immersive, immediate and engaging, it truly is the next best thing to being there in the flesh.
Example: Thompson Rivers University hosted an online campus tour with one of its international students on Facebook Live. Having current students show prospects around online allows them to hear about your school from the perspective of someone who they can identify with.
Live Campus Tour of our Kamloops campus with Humayra Haq #myTRU
Posted by Thompson Rivers University – TRU World on Thursday, August 17, 2017
Best of all, unlike other ephemeral live streaming formats, your Facebook Live broadcast will remain on the site long after your tour, meaning students who missed it can easily catch up, while those who tuned in can revisit the video to get another impression of your school.
Your team can also monitor the engagement rates over the course of the broadcast using Facebook Insights, and pinpoint the parts of the tour that played well with your audience and the parts that didn’t resonate with them. This can allow you to fine-tune your routine for both online and offline visits in the future.
3. Go Live From Events to Engage Prospective Students
In addition to campus tours, Facebook Live is also a perfect medium for other events. Going live from the scene of an on-campus event can give prospective students a sense of the excitement and verve of the occasion, helping to reinforce the identity of your school’s community.
If you are unsure what events would suit this type of broadcast, just take a look at your school calendar. Many schools have a number of particular occasions throughout the year which are special, from graduations, to move-in days, to holiday parties. Having your team on hand to capture the action as it unfolds can help amplify the online visibility boost your school will get on days where you already likely to be seeing plenty of engagement.
Example: Lansing Community College in Michigan took Facebook viewers live to their graduation in May. Note the many good wishes in the comments section. Content like this will give a really positive impression of your school.
While your regular events should offer plenty of fodder for Facebook Live posts, any special events throughout the year should be broadcast too. For instance, you may have a guest speaker due to pay a visit to your school, or one of your sports teams may make it to a big game, or a student may receive an award for their academic work. Whatever may come up over the course of the year, your team can be ready to go live and give your followers the biggest, most important updates.
Example: The University of Oxford went live last month when they hosted a special lecture from Hilary Clinton.
4. Go Behind the Scenes at Your School
If you are showcasing events on Facebook for student recruitment, going behind the scenes can be a great way to add value to the experience. Both your prospective and current students will appreciate additional footage, interviews, and candid moments with guest speakers, event organizers, and other personnel who may be heavily involved in creating these unforgettable occasions.
Example: The College of Continuing and Professional Education at KSU got great reactions to the behind-the-scenes footage they posted of their graduation.
Additionally, every institution has it unsung heroes. From admissions departments, to accommodation officers, to groundskeeping staff, there are literally dozens of different people who contribute to the day-to-day running of a great school.
These individuals are seldom highlighted online, but Facebook Live provides a quick and easy way to do this. Seeing the work that goes into their education will give prospective students a renewed appreciation for what they are being offered, and reassure them that their future is good hands.
Example: This fantastic live stream from the University of Oregon’s move-in day features interviews with the many staff members, students and other volunteers who are working tirelessly on one of the school’s busiest days of the year.
We are LIVE from Move-in Day! Welcome, new Ducks! 🦆🚚💚
Posted by University of Oregon on Thursday, September 21, 2017
5. Post Lectures and Classes When Using Facebook Live for Student Recruitment
There is no recommended duration for livestreams. Brands of all kinds have found success on Facebook Live with both quick updates and longer broadcasts. Your videos can be as short or as long as they need to be, depending on what you are trying to convey.
Because of this, many schools recruiting students using Facebook Live will choose to stream full lectures or conferences. Providing online users with real value and substance, these long-form broadcasts can be extremely successful in attracting engagement. They also provide prospective students with a firsthand look at what they can expect when they attend your school.
Example: Harvard University hosted a series of live lectures from the Introduction to Computer Sciences class in 2016, giving prospective students a sneak preview of the popular course.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to stop at lectures. If your instructors and students are willing and comfortable, your team can take your cameras inside the classroom to broadcast more exciting, hands-on work that might be happening at your school, such as experiments, practical exercises, and demonstrations. Not only do these events make for great, interesting videos, but they also provide a firsthand insight into your institution’s learning philosophy and personality.
Example: The University of Central Lancashire posted a number of live science experiments on Facebook Live during its Lancashire Science Festival event.
Regardless of how you choose to use Facebook Live for student recruitment, it’s crucial that you promote your broadcasts in order to secure as large an audience as possible. For things like open days, campus tours or Q&A sessions, you can create a Facebook Event especially for your broadcast in order to make your prospective students aware of it.
You can also promote it on your website, and other popular social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram. Even if you’re doing more candid broadcasts at short notice, you can still let online users know you are going live by posting on your other social channels when you do.
Additionally, as with many things in digital marketing, measurement is the key to success. Facebook Insights will give you key metrics on your overall video performance, such as the total number of viewers and video completions, and peak live viewers. You can also view your reactions (likes, hearts etc.) in real-time to give you better insight into what parts of your streams were the most engaging. Insights will even offer information about what demographics your viewers belonged to. With so much actionable data, your school will easily be able to gain the insights it needs to improve your posts’ quality, and create live content that is immediate, engaging, and effective.