As our institutional customers deploy more online events for students and faculty, we are getting into deeper discussions on how to better engage and communicate with Gen Z (born around early 1990s to 2010) and Gen Y (also known as Millennials, born 1981-1996) students.
As schools have tried to keep students engaged and involved in campus communities, we have been working closely with event organizers to help them with more creative tools to better reach and engage their student body. Some of these events are learning focused, while others are more social, or wellness focused. Those events that better engage and utilize these platforms in their online or hybrid events are seeing 2-3 times greater engagement levels.
The key is how to better communicate and engage with today’s students in the communication modalities that they prefer. It is also better equipping campus event organizers with more options for making their events more engaging, inclusive and interactive to ensure students are receiving the full campus experience.
Converging between the development of social media and many innovative technology apps is the development of “embedding” capability in many of these apps by developers. What this means is many software applications like Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Google Maps etc. have been enabled to be easily programmed into another web-based applications like websites or Acadiate. So, where any of these apps that are enabled by their developers to be embedded, then that means they can be inserted into online events run on Acadiate.
Feedback from campus event organizers suggest students respond well to infusing popular social media applications that they are already familiar with and using. Acadiate has been designed to accommodate 3rd party embeddable apps. So, think about how to make you’re your online or hybrid events more accessible and engaging by incorporating Instagram, Twitter, YouTube Streaming and more. In fact, most educational institutions have invested heavily into these platforms for sharing content and campus experiences, so make sure the online and hybrid events you are planning integrate well with these apps and leverage all that existing content and communication infrastructure your institution has to offer.
Twitter is more popular with Millennials, but with over 350 million monthly users it is one of the most popular social media platforms higher education utilizes. Twitter is probably the most well adopted social media platforms by schools and programs, so it is much easier to funnel fresh content and communication into an online event using Twitter than another platform.
The advantage of a Twitter feed integrated into your online event is with one source you can communicate to in-event and out-side event audiences simultaneously and real time. Twitter is so versatile; you can create twitter accounts specific to your one event or have your interactive zone being fed with your specific feed or a more generic hashtag feed. You can have multiple feeds in different parts to provide cross currents of messaging in different zones. An event organizer can get very creative and bring their event more alive with a constant stream of fresh content to keep attendees engaged and the event energy upbeat.
Instagram offers similar benefits as Twitter but is designed more for photo-sharing platform of choice for Gen Z. So, depending on the demographics or purpose of your online or hybrid event, Instagram maybe more appealing as it better engages most primary age groups for undergraduate programs. With a billion active monthly users, Instagram is a very familiar and popular platform that Gen Z regular use.
Instagram is a popular ask for integration into Acadiate online events because its visually strong format aligns strongly with Acadiate’s more visually driven format and navigation style. The attraction of Instagram for Gen Z is they are engaged better through stronger visual cues rather than written cues. We have found Instagram feeds are very popular for events being managed by students for students i.e. Student club fairs, student social event venues, orientation week.
YouTube and Vimeo Live Streaming
If you are familiar with Acadiate’s showcase format, you are well aware of how we work closely with YouTube and Vimeo for embedding video to enhance and deliver video content into events. YouTube is the second most popular social network in the world. In recent years, live streaming has become more popular and YouTube and Vimeo Live have made it really simple and easy to share a broadcast live feed. In Acadiate we enable for this broadcast feed to show up on a double tile in a lobby as a center stage or an event room to enable for attendees to drop in and watch a live feedback without the need to drop into a web-call. This is particular powerful for hybrid events or to broadcast live action of an event running on campus and make it more accessible online to the rest of the campus or school community.
We have found every virtual event has different requirements for group chat functionality. In the past it was often described as chat forums, but with student events trying to infuse more spontaneous conversations as a group, event organizers are often seeking out very specific chat functionality, whether the event is an Orientation Week, ExamJam, Mentorship, Open House or Poster Session. The great thing is there are many 3rd party apps offering a wide array of chat experiences. The challenge is incorporating the right experience and the right functionality for the particular user experience you seek. If the 3rd party chat app supports embedding it can in most cases be incorporated into an Acadiate hosted virtual event. We have worked with a number of 3rd party group chat platforms like “deadsimplechat”, which many schools are already using within their websites. So have the best of 2 worlds the best virtual event platform and the best chat functionality in one solution.
For many years, some students have been using YouTube 360 to showcase their technology skills and standout from the crowd. But we are finding schools are utilizing this technology to deliver a more immersive online experience to event attendees. We are seeing this used very effectively in Open House and student recruiting events to deliver a more targeted and immersive campus tour experience. But we are also seeing it being leveraged for other school community events where students have an enhanced user experience with a fuller 360 view of a venue, such as art presentations, stage productions, school trips, campus or facility tours etc.
Learning institutions are looking for more ways to expand inclusiveness and accessibility by utilizing more online and hybrid events. One of the key’s to making these events more successful is to make them more engaging and socially energizing. Integrating Twitter, Instagram, Live Streaming and more is a great way to easily make the event more energized and social. Particularly if your events are targeting Millennials and Gen Z audiences. For most schools this is quite easily implemented as most already have invested strongly in one or more these social media platforms.
Experience it for yourself, see our interactive demo tile zone here
Read more about Acadiate online and hybrid events here