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RamChat: What is it?

Recruiting students isn’t easy.

And it’s even harder when you’re communicating through dry content that reads like a phone book.

That’s why the Office of Admissions, partnered with several other Offices and Departments across campus, started RamChat. RamChat began as a standard chatroom-style experience for prospective students where they could connect with current students and faculty. But, the program quickly outgrew the technology.

Enter Google Hangouts.

Our biggest strength is our staff, so why were we hiding behind keyboards when we could interact with students live using Google Hangouts? By using live chat technology, we are now able to communicate with students in real-time while also promoting the personalities and strengths of our recruiters, currents students, and faculty.

In a nutshell, Hangouts offer a free (we know what social media budgets typically look like), reliable and easy way to film and publish live broadcasts.

The setup.

Prospective students are able to submit questions through social media or on a simple form on the admissions website and we do our best to answer as many as possible while we’re live on air. Following the event, we try to answer every question that we couldn’t answer on air through email or social. That way, we can be sure we’re serving the student and not just the flashy live video.

Other than having a sturdy internet connection and some computers with webcams (we typically use Macbooks), no equipment is required. Google has done a great job and making sure the technology is incredibly accessible to everyone and viewers don’t even need a Google+ account to watch.

The challenges.

RAMCHATBLOOPER-01This is a live broadcast. That means every glitch, sneeze, or flub is immortalized on YouTube and we’re working on building an impressive list of bloopers.

You never know when something unexpected might happen, but you should always be ready. Even if that means your arm makes an unexpected appearance in the background holding up a falling flag.

We’ve quickly found that simpler is better. Whatever you can do to streamline the set up process then stay out of the way during the broadcast is highly recommended.

Oh, and always make sure you’re using strong tape.

The results.

Here’s the fun part. We’ve been using Google Hangouts for only about a year-and-a-half, but the numbers we’ve already accumulated are exciting.

We’ve published 18 unique RamChats and have accumulated over 24,000 YouTube views. Those numbers don’t include the number of live viewers for each chat and the dozens of questions we typically receive.

Regardless of the numbers, we’ve also heard prospective students anecdotally talking about RamChat. Hearing students discuss a new and exciting way of interacting with the university is always a win.

Watch old RamChats and see what we have in store right here.