Livestream on Facebook. Periscope on Twitter. YouTube Live, Wirecast and Google Hangouts. The list of streaming video tools goes on and on.

Why should you keep up? Because live broadcast events represent a new frontier for engagement professionals in higher education.

Live streaming has been on trend in higher ed since 2011. Most institutions already stream some events live – commencements, inaugurations, important board meetings, featured speakers, games for popular sports teams. For smaller events intended for a more targeted audience, live streaming often takes place with help from campus partners in the communications department. With their help you cobble together a video feed using an expensive enterprise account for a service like Livestream or Ustream.

Streaming a major event is great – but why stop there? A robust digital engagement strategy adds live streaming events to your reunion weekends, and adds a fresh spin on webinars or traditional outreach activities in order to extend and support your alumni career programming.

Live streaming events are compelling content for alumni that brings them together at the same time – and builds your university network, enhances school spirit, and provides a venue for broad-based volunteerism and engagement.

Live Networking Events & Technology

If you like these ideas, you’ll be excited about Brazen. We introduced the product at Longwood University during the spring semester and had very positive results during our pilot series of events.

One of the biggest opportunities with Brazen is the ability to build recurring events into your  calendar and develop a sense of routine. For example, at Longwood University we plan to publish a reoccurring event series using Brazen and promote it to our entire alumni network. The goal is to create a regularly-scheduled program that is low-cost, event-driven, and can be promoted in all of our conversations. The digital event structure allows engagement professionals to reach the entire alumni community, connecting them to a single event or series of events.

Best of all, digital events offer an appealing alternative to in-person events that can require travel or time away from work or home. With a tool like Brazen, you can capture important data in a format that easily syncs with your existing model for tracking and reporting attendance.

Broadcast Webinars with Thought Leaders

Most institutions have a charge in their mission to deliver lifelong learning to alumni. Live streaming opens the door to a wide variety of webinar opportunities. Alumni volunteers are often enthusiastic about the chance to share advice and thought leadership. Many are excited to hop in front of a webcam and deliver a 30 to 45-minute presentation.

Webinars don’t have to be limited to alumni. At Longwood we’re in the process of rolling out a “LinkedIn Influencer Week”. We’ve hired four thought leaders that have earned Influencer status on LinkedIn. Each influencer will craft webinars specifically targeted to the needs and interests of alumni, parents and friends of the university. These career coaches, writers and social strategists are experts at creating engaging content, which is exactly what we’re hoping to provide.

Ultimately, we must all keep a constant eye on how to provide our audiences with content that encourages engagement and cross-promotes in-person events and university initiatives. Live streaming events provide measurable engagement through event-related metrics while also adding valuable content to our social media channels.

Staffing for Live Streaming Events

Taking advantage of tools like Brazen or Facebook Live is impossible without the right resources. While many engagement shops now have team members dedicated to social media and website content management, many try to layer live digital events on top of those functions, often with mixed results.

It’s time to hire a team member whose primary role is to create and execute a live streaming event strategy. All of our staff members should be providing content to help with social media and promote digital volunteerism, but upping your live streaming event game will only be effective with a dedicated, skilled live events coordinator supporting those efforts.

I understand that, for most organizations, entrenched programming and processes makes it difficult to shift to a digital event strategy. When resources are finite, moving funds from traditional engagement to digital means a natural disruption will take place among team members, either we stop doing something to make time to learn new skills or we’re forced make cuts and hire new employees.

In the private sector that’s just another day at the office; in the public sector, less so — but no matter how long it takes to affect change, the time is now to start making it.

After all, your constituents are ready – so now it’s up to you.


Article Author

Ryan Catherwood

Ryan Catherwood

Higher Ed Live blogger and Former Host of Advancement Live
Assistant VP for Alumni and Career Services, Longwood University

Ryan Catherwood is the Assistant VP for Alumni and Career Services at Longwood University. Prior to joining Longwood, he was the Director of Digital Strategy in the University Advancement office at the University of Virginia. His work is dedicated to strategies that utilize events, crowdsourcing, inbound and content marketing, email marketing and social media community management in order to drive alumni and student engagement, participation, connections, networking, volunteerism and giving at Longwood University.


Ryan Catherwood

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