Launched in April 2016, Facebook Live allows the most-used social network’s users to share up to eight hours of live video with their followers and friends. According to a Facebook spokesperson, the vast majority of these recordings come from people instead of public figures and publishers, and the number of people broadcasting live at any given minute has grown by four times since its launch. Further, users comment over 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos, demonstrating that broadcasts engage users with their real-time reactions and comments.
Many colleges and universities have already begun integrating Facebook Live into their social media marketing schemes. Out of the 45-school Alumni Monitor coverage group, 36 schools have hosted at least one Facebook Live event within their main university or alumni-focused social media page. For those schools looking to begin (or expand on) their current Facebook Live presence, here are six ideas for engaging alumni using Facebook Live.
1. Interview professors about current events
Schools can take advantage of trending topics to garner attention for a Facebook Live broadcast related to current events. Most commonly, higher education Facebook Live broadcasts featured faculty members commenting on the 2016 election, including the debates outcomes and election night expectations. George Washington University, for example, has primarily focused its livestreams on the election, such as a Q&A discussion with a professor about the Republican and Democratic parties.
2. Capture sporting events
After graduation, alumni frequently connect to their alma mater through athletics. Facebook Live can be used to broadcast both major and minor sporting events, such as games with rivals or playoff matches, to encapsulate the event atmosphere and highlight student athletes’ performances. Syracuse University’s Alumni page, for example, broadcasted a Facebook Live event highlighting the momentum and school pride of Syracuse Alumni when their men’s basketball team made the Final Four in the 2016 NCAA March Madness Tournament.
3. Bring homecoming to alums
Though homecoming welcomes alumni back to campus each year, not all alumni can make the trip. Schools can eliminate any “FOMO” (fear of missing out) feeling by livestreaming events throughout the weekend. Common trends among universities’ homecoming-related Facebook Live broadcasts include homecoming parades, pep rallies and luncheons. Cornell University even broadcasted a Homecoming Prize Cab video, which showed alumni answering Cornell trivia questions on their way to the football game in exchange for prizes.
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4. Make broadcasts interactive
The best way to engage alumni with Facebook Live is to make broadcasts interactive. Schools should encourage users to ask questions in the comments section or post their real-time reactions to the content being shown or said by a participant. Indiana University, for instance, took its Facebook Live broadcast a step further by asking a trivia question about where the IU gnome is located on campus.
5. Promote giving campaigns
Schools already use Periscope and other live streaming services to promote Giving Days, but Facebook Live is an ideal way to integrate the social network with the 24-hour fundraiser. Social media ambassadors can promote the Facebook Live event beforehand, and during the event, ambassadors and other supporters can share the livestream with their friends and other alumni to raise more awareness about the giving drive. In addition, the caption within the broadcast can include the giving day’s hashtag and a link to donate. Boston University and University of Michigan are the among the first to promote their giving days using Facebook Live. BU’s broadcast defined the 24-hour fundraiser and discussed why BU Giving Day matters to different student clubs. University of Michigan’s livestream consisted of a discussion with student representatives about the giving day.
6. Become the student
Similar to Snapchat and Instagram, Facebook Live brings the campus to life, creating the potential to present a student-eye view of the university. By showing what student life looks like today, schools allow alumni to reflect on their time at their alma mater and witness their school’s progress. Schools can use Facebook Live to tour campus buildings, drop in on classes or even capture campus traditions (e.g., Ithaca College’s fountain jump). Boston University, Lehigh University and Northeastern University are just a few schools who have hosted Facebook Live events to capture student life on campus, ranging from fall fests to campus tours.
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