I’ve been lucky enough to spend a good deal of time leading focus groups and discovery sessions on college campuses. In many of those discussions, we always hear a common theme: "If we can just get them to campus"¦"
It’s true! If you get them to campus, the chances of your prospective students joining your college increase. Many schools are trying to recreate the "on-campus" experience. While some virtual tours are well done, they have their shortcomings. The biggest problem is the lack of face-to-face interaction. This is where Periscope could bridge the gap.
What is Periscope?
How do you feel about teleportation? While it’s not exactly Lost, Stargate, or "beam me up, Scotty," with Periscope, students can view your campus on their phone at any time through live video. Periscope explains it best:
Isn’t that exactly what you need?
Why it Makes Sense
Periscope’s most engaged demographic is 18-34 year-olds. There’s your target audience.
2. Real time interaction
Tour guides can answer questions as they come in. I’d recommend doing Periscope tours separately from in-person tours, so you don’t overwhelm the tour guide. We’ll talk more below about some of the challenges to keep in mind, but this is one of the coolest features of live-streaming apps.
There’s no new software or hardware to buy. You just need a well-prepared guide with an iPhone. You also don’t need to worry about design/development or post production. It all happens live.
How To Pull It Off
1. Schedule in Advance
Let the audience know when you’ll be live. Test different times to see what time works best.
2. Train, pilot and rehearse
For your guides, with great power comes great responsibility. For a few minutes, they’re a live community manager, and whatever they say & do can’t be taken back. The video will live on Periscope for 24 hours, but if they say something untrue or inappropriate, you can’t really delete that from the viewers minds.
Ideally, you are hand-picking ambassadors who love your school and will create a great experience. But you’ll still need to train them on the common questions to expect and even how to tactfully ignore possibly inappropriate or irrelevant questions (remember, these are practically anonymous 17-year-olds watching).
Test the quality, the guide’s ability to answer appropriate questions and get a feel for the duration of the tour. Throw in a few curveball questions to see how they’ll handle them.
Remind the guides that the endgame is still an in-person tour, so they should continue to encourage prospective students to come see for themselves.
3. Build Periscope tour promotion into your social media content calendar
Promote your tours multiple times, especially on Twitter, and share upcoming tour times on other channels like Facebook and even Instagram. Instagram may provide a cool opportunity to use 15-second preview videos to tease what to expect. The more you can set the expectations for the user, the better their experience will be. Consider using a tour hashtag for promotion that prospects can use before and after — #periscopecampustour or something specific to your school: #tourUKonperiscope, etc.
4. Run only on sunny days
You’re taking live video on an iPhone, so the production quality isn’t that high. Couple that with bad weather, and you’ve made a dreary first impression. You also want to show off a vibrant campus (especially with Periscope’s landscape capability), so if no one is outside it won’t have the same effect.
Let’s Sum It Up
While the high level of interactivity includes some vulnerability, the potential benefits of inviting prospective students to "see" your campus via Periscope are worth the risk. Give it a try!
(Note: This post was originally written in April 2015 and has been updated to reflect updated statistics and updates to Periscope’s capabilities.)