In this edition of the School Spotlight, I’m excited to share the Facebook Live admission initiative from the Lowell School, an age 2 1/2 through 8th-grade school located in Washington, D.C. To share their story I’ve asked Liz Yee, Director of Admission, to share her experience.
1. How long have you utilized Facebook Live for your school?
Not long! We started using Facebook Live last fall. We ended up doing two Facebook Live shows and one Podcast.
2. What were your initial goals/reasons for using Facebook Live?
We have been stepping up our inbound marketing game the past few years. As part of that initiative, I wanted to expand our strategy by including more video and interactive content. Our blog has started to take off and we are generating all sorts of great content among our faculty, staff, parents and even students. I wanted to jump on that energy and see how we could expand our reach and support parents through the admissions process. We know that parents need support as they navigate private school admissions. Facebook Live emerged as a tool that would help us achieve multiple goals.
Another goal was to bring prospective families to our Facebook page and be engaged with our content and our school. Facebook is a great tool to connect with parents and we are continuing to see our friends sharing and interacting on our page. Facebook Live gave us a new way to communicate with parents, and also elevate our page with live video—Facebook’s algorithms are set up so that the more views, likes, shares, and comments come through, the longer and higher the Live video will stay on news feeds. It’s a win-win for us in terms of visibility.
Finally, Facebook Live would give us a venue to share our expertise. Parents have questions, anxiety, and fears as they think about schools for their child. We’ve used inbound marketing as a tool to bring parents to our blog and website, while also supporting their needs. Using Facebook Live to extend this expertise was intriguing to us.
3. Have you achieved those goals (I know it’s still early)?
At a minimum, our Facebook Live events have generated a lot of excitement within our community. I’ve received emails, calls, and fun anecdotes from parents who have shared that they enjoyed the videos and found them helpful.
In the future, we hope to measure the success more intentionally, including.
- Early indications were that parents who viewed the feed were a mix of those who had already inquired about admission to Lowell and those who did not yet. We are wondering if Facebook live will expand our audience, or deepen our relationship with folks who are already in the process.
- We would also like to more closely track visibility on news feeds
4. Were there unintended consequences, positive or negative, as a result of Facebook Live?
One of the neat unintended consequences was that one of our current parents reached out to me and we did our first podcast! This parent just launched a new business, which is geared to helping dads success in their life, in work and at home. He saw our Facebook Live shots and it sparked a conversation. It was a natural partnership to share insights with his community about the admissions process. I hope that we will continue with more podcasts with him this fall.
5. How many people does it take you to use Facebook Live?
It takes quite a few folks to help pull this off! When we prepared for and recorded our first Facebook Live show, we were all a little nervous about doing something live–what if I say something ridiculous? What if no one but my sister is watching and commenting (true story)? I really had to lean into my discomfort around making sure everything is perfect. I don’t think I could have pulled it off without an amazing team. Our Director of Communications, Website Director and our Admissions Associate were all on board with supporting this effort. Even down to giving me a few confidence-boosting pep talks! At a minimum, you’ll need two people supporting the folks on camera.
More specifically, our team held these distinct roles:
- Hosting an interview or chat to keep the conversation going
- Comments handler–tracking the comments and responding to them live to keep the online conversation going
- Keeping track of time and feeding questions to me — this was key. If there was a lull in the conversation or I needed some new ideas to share, this person kept me going!
Pro tip: It doesn’t hurt to get technical advice to set up the shot and to troubleshoot during the filming. We had some issues with the wifi being strong enough for our first shoot.
6. How much time do you prepare for your Facebook Live broadcast?
For the first broadcast, we met as a team a few times to prepare and envision how it would all work. We brainstormed ideas together, investigated how the Facebook Live technology works and came up with some talking points and even filler if no one was watching and we needed to get some other folks to start commenting.
The second feed went much more smoothly and took less prep time. Having one under our belt and some of the kinks worked out meant that we could focus more on the interview, the flow of the conversation, and respond to questions.
7. How frequently are you going to have Facebook Live sessions?
We are going to try to do it more frequently to see what it yields. I have some new admissions-resource blogs coming out this fall so it would be a natural opportunity to launch those resources with Facebook Live. As we all know, the admissions season gets busy so if I could pull this off once a month between October-February I would feel like we would have some data to analyze to better understand our reach and effectiveness.
8. In your experience are there better days or times to utilize Facebook Live?
Our first strategy was to try to catch parents during their lunch hour. Based on what we know about our current parents at Lowell, I’m not sure if that was the best timing. Our parents are most likely to be on social media in the evening, with a big chunk also on during the day. We might have to try some new time slots this fall to see what works best.
9. What tools or technology do you use to help you publish to Facebook Live?
Not much! An iPhone 6 + Tripod with an iPhone mount and Facebook!
10. If you knew then what you know now — what advice can you share for schools just starting out with Facebook Live?
- Testing the wifi is very, very important. If you can do a low-stakes test to try it out, do it. That’s one thing I wished we had known before we pushed the “go live” button! We started our session strong, and then a few minutes in the wifi dropped so we had to restart the feed–not ideal.
- Think about planting some people to watch, share, like and comment. Having some familiar names and faces on the feed with you helps ensure that you’re not just talking to yourself They can also start the comments and share it in their news feed. Getting it out to other viewers is key.
- Publicize the event in advance. This is really important. While you may think that prospective parents will want to tune into watch and ask their questions, you need to make sure that they are aware of the Facebook Live date and time. We created a publicity strategy that included reaching out to educational consultants, feeder schools, other admissions directors and, of course, our current parents. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step.
11. Can you share one ‘secret’ which has helped with Facebook Live?
Have fun with it! It can feel intimidating to think about going live on Facebook (and yes, it’s scary!), but it ended up being very fun. It brought our team closer together, and the internal community as well.
Another great secret is to partner with someone else who you can interview. It made the discussion that much more lively and interesting (and helpful!).
I’d like to thank Liz and Lowell School for agreeing to be a School Spotlight. If you haven’t done so already I encourage you to watch their Facebook Live with Liz recording below.
Live with Liz: Curious about private school admissions testing? Join us!
Posted by Lowell School on Tuesday, November 15, 2016
If you have any questions for Liz please ask them in the comments section below.
Also published on Medium.