I recently presented an infographic learning session using Google+ Hangouts on Air. While I’ve scheduled virtual learning sessions through my affinity group and another organization in the past, registration numbers for these events have usually topped out around 70. But this event grew to almost 160 registrants. In order to understand why, I conducted a review that allowed me to identify four major factors. These four points may provide value to other organizations looking to innovate their current practices:
1. Take advantage of “learning windows” to engage your audience. With much buzz around the use of infographics, I wanted to take advantage of the current popularity of the topic and market a learning session that would focus on creating infographics with online tools made for the non-designer. By marketing the session to “non-designers,” I think that more people were able to identify with that term and deemed the session valuable enough to register.
2. Understand the impact potential of the engaged, tech-savvy professional. Although I marketed the session as usual, engaged professionals did the lion’s share of the work by posting session information to websites and forwarding registration information via social media and e-mail lists. I was surprised to see how many people forwarded the message without being prompted.
3. Innovate the delivery of the content. Attendees were interested not only in the session topic but also in gaining experience with Hangouts on Air. In fact, some attendees e-mailed me to thank me for providing an opportunity to try out the technology.
4. Remove as many barriers as possible:
- Barrier I: Fees. Having been disappointed in the past because I was unable to attend learning events due to cost, I try to make the events I plan free. By thinking creatively, I’ve successfully used free tools and recruited high-caliber presenters who volunteer their time and expertise because they believe in the importance of helping others grow.
- Barrier II: Technology. Remove as many technology barriers as possible by providing several options to participate. With this session, I provided two streaming options to registrants. In addition, registrants were offered an opportunity to practice streaming the content so that they could identify technology issues and connect with me to resolve them prior to the event.
- Barrier III: Busy schedules. A great feature of Hangouts on Air is having your session recorded and posted to your YouTube account. This is an excellent feature to capture and share information with those who may not be able to make the live event but are still eager to learn. When I marketed this session, I made sure to highlight that registrants could access the information even if they had a scheduling conflict since the event was being recorded.
If you would like to learn more about marketing learning, team up with your foundation’s librarian to identify resources that can help you take it to the next level.
Sophia Guevara is the chair of the Consortium of Foundation Libraries affinity group