Simulated Live (Simulive) Experiences Round Out a High Impact Virtual Engagement Plan
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions scrambled to replicate in person events virtually any way they could. Some used Zoom. Some used social media streaming. Many chose to shift their efforts to the Conduit platform for a better end-user experience. But, no matter which way we went, the emphasis for everyone was “live events”.
We’re nearly 7 months into the pandemic and one thing is abundantly clear … hosting a good live virtual event can be hard. Tactically it seems simple. Log on to your platform of choice and click “go”. But we all know it is far more complicated than that.
Is your presenter comfortable on camera? Speaking to an audience in a room is a different experience than on webcam to an audience you can’t see. Not everyone can make that transition easily.
Do you have a stable connection? Even the best presenter with the best preparation can be derailed by a bad internet connection or a faulty device.
Will people really mark their calendar for you? Aside from the Super Bowl and the season premier of The Mandalorian on Disney+, it’s hard to imagine many pieces of video content people are clamoring to engage with live when they know they can find it later on demand … particularly a college admissions information session.
Does the above mean that you should ditch live programming altogether? Absolutely not. Students still need more than a virtual tour and a chat bot to help them make their college choices.
What it does mean is that you should strategically approach the mix of live, on-demand and what we call Simulive (short for simulated live) experiences you are creating for your audiences and asking your staff to produce.
What is Simulive?
Simulive is a video distribution format built within Conduit’s webcasting tool that allows you to create a live experience without having to “be live” on camera. Content is recorded in advance, with the presenter coached to engage an audience with resources like clickable links and live chat tools to create the impression of a live experience for a live audience while also producing great content that is available immediately on demand.
Unlike pre-recorded sessions hosted by virtual conferences that allow you to join late from the beginning or skip ahead, Conduit’s Simulive capability allows you to schedule your video content to begin at a designated time and play as a live video. You can create the option to skip ahead or join late and simply be available for Q&A via chat, that capability is available as well … It’s all up to your goals for the content and the experience you wish to build for your audience.
Here are a couple of examples:
Student or Alumni panels? Those are a great “true” simulive experience, as it feels like a truly live experience for your audience.
Transfer student Q&As? Make the video available at a specific time, but allow for the flexibility to skip ahead or start at any time with an accompanying live chat to allow for flexibility for your audience.
How to set up my campus email tutorial? This is content that is typically a screen record with voiceover that requires no interaction with the presenter. This makes for great on demand content as you can direct incoming students to access it any time at their convenience.
Why not just post all of our videos on demand?
On demand videos are a great way to provide your audience with immediate access to information they may need … from step by step admissions process videos to SIS tutorials. Convenience is the biggest benefit to the audience. However, most on demand videos are not created with the intent of being interactive.
In a time when many of us are working from home more often or juggling family and office commitments, the flexibility of recording content when convenient and being able to staff a chat room (or rotate coverage of a chat room by your staff) in casual attire can be very attractive. Simulive videos give you the opportunity to create an interactive and engaging experience without the commitment of being “webcam ready”.
Our strategy team helps clients distinguish between content that should prioritize interactivity over convenience, or vice versa.
Long Live (Simu)Live Events!
While there are surely no shortage of opportunities to showcase your institution with a live panel that is simulcast across multiple social media platforms (which Conduit does), leveraging Simulive in addition to live and on-demand content can alleviate a lot of stress for your team while, when executed correctly, driving the same results as live programs.
The next time you are recording a webcast, consider these techniques for encouraging audience interaction, regardless if the video is live or Simulive:
- Encourage interaction in the live chat tool – By prompting questions for your audience you create an environment where sharing is valued. This tactic works well for both live and Simulive interaction.
- Have prepared posts for staff – If you reference articles or resources on your website during the recording of the webcast, make note of the timing of those mentions. Encourage a member of your team to post a link to that article during the webcast after it is mentioned “live”.
- Have presenters join the live chat, but don’t over-participate – If participants see the presenters in the live chat it will help them to feel that they can interact with the presenters much like they would be submitting questions during a live webcast. However, take note that the presenters should not engage in the chat while they are actively speaking during the recorded presentation! This will confuse the audience and make it more obvious that the presentation is pre-recorded.
Check Out Some Great Examples
At PlatformQ Education, most of our webcasts are pre-recorded. This ensures that our production staff is available for client events and programs. Below is an example of webcasts we produced last summer with the intent of using it for Simulive broadcasts. Check it out and decide for yourself … If you didn’t know this was a recording would you believe it was live?
Real (Simu)Live Results
The biggest need with any new initiative is, of course, predictability into the outcomes of those efforts. With a live event a presenter can use their feeling of how interactive an audience is by the number of live questions they receive. When combining Simulive and live content together into an overall experience, it’s more important to dive into the data.
Recently, the University of South Carolina hosted two virtual open house series consisting of 4 days each. Each day consisted of 2-4 virtual sessions on a variety of topics from student panels to application workshops and more. Nearly 70% of the presentations were pre-recorded and presented as Simulated live sessions with accompanying live chats.
The program attracted over 3,600 live student visitors (as compared to 1,200 who visit during an in-person open house). Two-thirds of the event attendees applied for Early Action admission to the institution with 83% submitting their application after the virtual open house event.
Are you looking to evolve your virtual engagement strategy to provide better outcomes while not overworking your staff? Contact us to get started.