Virtually Real: Advice For Taking Your Events Online
There is no question that digital has transformed the way we communicate and market ourselves as businesses. This has affected how we put on events for our audiences. Physical presence at events is no longer compulsory thanks to the tools which allow us to attend virtually.
These developments have been particularly useful for universities that want to appeal to prospective international students and distance learners who might not be able to make it to the open day or guest lecture you’re holding.
So how can your institution effectively make use of these different tools to create great virtual events, engaging both prospective and current students in the process?
Back in January, Robert wrote a post about universities who are doing some terrific virtual tours and open days for prospective students. Although it can be argued that it isn’t quite the same as taking in the atmosphere during a real-life open day, it can really give a flavour for what’s in store.
Virtual tours are particularly important for prospective distance learners. Supplying them with engaging digital content during the recruitment process provides confidence that your online resources during study will be of a similar standard.
My favourite example of a virtual tour comes from across the pond: Harvard University have created a visually engaging and user-friendly virtual tour with your very own tour guide, and it succeeds in giving you a feel for the university despite being miles away.
— Harvard University (@Harvard) January 11, 2015
Another way to communicate with students is by organising live chat sessions. Instant messaging is a quick and easy way for the students to get the answers they need about the course or university, fast. Live chats have been used by many universities, hosting chats with certain offices, departments or even current students and student ambassadors for that all-important insight into student life.
These can take the form of Q&A with the admissions team, or could even be a webinar with academic staff over Skype discussing a specific course – with time for questions at the end.
Here, Anglia Ruskin University encourage their prospective international students to join the conversation:
Don't forget to join our Skype session today. It will start in 20 minutes! pic.twitter.com/NMYW7BwjXe
— ARU International (@angliaruskin_io) May 15, 2015
Do you have a guest lecturer or speaker coming to your institution? This is a great opportunity to live stream the event to students who might not be able to attend, using apps like Periscope or Meerkat. Periscope in particular gives your followers a chance to view your stream up to 24 hours after it has finished, so if they miss the live stream, they can still catch up.
Alternatively, you can save your Periscope broadcasts and share them elsewhere; University of California Irvine shared their Periscope virtual tour on Facebook which received a good reception.
Physical events are of course still very effective, and while they are going on, why not update your Twitter account with developments and photos to inform followers who can’t attend? Be sparing with event updates though – communicate the most interesting quotes or moments to avoid overloading your followers with information. Your current students may not be interested in the developments of your open day for example.
University of Glasgow have created a dedicated Twitter account to post their event updates for those who are interested.
— UofG Events (@UofGEvents) May 19, 2015
If you would like to know more about how we can help make your virtual event plans a reality please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org