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Facebook Live meets the college campus tour at GW

Higher ed administrators orchestrate live-video streaming service for prospective students
University Business, February 2017
BEHIND THE SCENES—Taylor Hale, a GW college senior from Detroit, Michigan, filming live during the college’s Facebook Live tour.
BEHIND THE SCENES—Taylor Hale, a GW college senior from Detroit, Michigan, filming live during the college’s Facebook Live tour.

The George Washington University live-streamed a campus tour via Facebook Live in December. It’s the first time the platform’s live-video streaming service has been used for that purpose, administrators at GW believe.

The 90-minute student-led event took place on December 3, a Saturday, with a video crew filming as well as monitoring comments on social media sites so guides could respond to questions.

Admissions, marketing and creative services administrators collaborated on the planning for about two months, says Costas Solomou, dean of admissions. 

Besides notifying prospective students via email, GW used Facebook ads to target high school students, transfers, application non-completers, and those who live farther away (in the U.S. and abroad), who had expressed interest in the university, says Solomou.

Spending about $300, GW promoted the tour the Wednesday prior.

As of January 6, the tour video had reached more than 667,000 people—with more than 28,000 views, 683 likes and reactions, and 300 comments. 

Through two run-throughs, the team adjusted the script, pacing and visual elements. Downtime at stop lights was one issue revealed, and the team perfected that timing in the second rehearsal.

Practicing, says Solomou, “allowed our students to become more comfortable in front of the camera and allowed us to test our technology.” It was the first time they’d used a battery pack during a long-format live-stream.

For others considering such events, tour guides should practice the route and talking points before going live, he says—and be prepared to answer questions.

GW may offer future tours and conversations via Facebook Live. Solomou says, “It was a great way to showcase our students and campus for a variety of audiences, including students who may be unable to visit campus in person.”

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