Live Chats can be a great value-add for your members. Use them to introduce your moderators, provide more information about your brand, share exclusive details about a new product, or invite a guest speaker to present relevant information to your membership. These are the more common instances but the possibilities and topics are limitless.
Getting members to show up and participate may seem overwhelming. We recommend following the steps and tips below to help streamline the process of planning and executing a successful live chat.
Step 1: Schedule/Plan a Live Chat
- The ideal length of time for a live chat is between 30 minutes to 1 hour. Anything longer could lead to member fatigue and drop-off during the session.
While planning your live chat, set a general goal for the chat and how many members you want to attend.
- When thinking about the ideal day of week and time to maximize attendance, we highly recommend setting up a login poll asking members what days and times work best for them to attend a live chat. Remember to specify time zones with your dates and times in the invite polls.
- Once you have the date of your live chat set, we recommend announcing it two weeks in advance so that members have plenty of time to RSVP and add it to their calendars.
- In the Live Chat activity card and any related emails, be sure to include a description of the chat topic, the time commitment, the number of open spots, the incentive (if any), and remind members that the chat is only available on desktops. Also, include web specs such as a recommended browser/version.
- Set a maximum number of participants for optimal engagement in the chat. Make sure that the members are aware that space is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Fuel Cycle platform will send a series of automated email reminders to any members who RSVP to a Live Chat session with a "Yes" or "Maybe" at the following times:
- 24 hours before the Live Chat's scheduled start time.
- 1 hour before the Live Chat's scheduled start time.
To pull the list of those members who have RSVP’d to the live chat follow these steps:
- From the Main Menu, select the Activities > Live Chats tab.
- Find the live chat and click on the Actions menu on the right.
- Click on Export RSVP.
Step 2: Create a Script
Your live chat script should include an introduction to the topics being discussed, technical how-to’s for the Live Chat, and all specific/probing questions desired.
Live Chats are comprised of Steps. Steps are like chapters in a book, and each step corresponds to a chat topic or prompt. There is a minimum of one step and no maximum. However, you should be aware of the target length of the chat when planning out steps.
We recommend always starting with a “Welcome” step to greet members as they come in followed by a “How Does this Work?” step with participation instructions. We also recommend ending with a “Thank You” step during which the moderator thanks them for their participation, let’s them know when incentives (if any) will be distributed, etc.
Step 3: Test the Live Chat
- After the script is finalized, the Live Chat will be programmed. You will want to test the Live Chat at least a day before your scheduled launch time.
- To test the Live Chat, click the “Start Demo” button.
- Any comments posted in the demo session will not appear in the actual chat once you go live, so you can test this space as much as you’d like.
- Once you’ve tested, the moderator who started the demo must click the “End Session” button within the demo. This step is very important. You will not be able to launch the actual live chat until you end the demo session.
Reminder: This must be done by the moderator who started the demo in the first place since they technically own the session.
Step 4: Moderate the Live Chat
After the Live Chat is tested and the demo is closed, you’re ready to launch the chat.
The moderator of the Live Chat must be the one to start the Live Chat.
- To start the Live Chat, the moderator must log in directly to the member side from the member-facing login page.
- If you route to the member side by logging into your moderator account from the admin side (using the “Launch Community” button), your session will automatically time out after 45 minutes (it will log you out of the community) and all members will be kicked out of the chat.
- If this does occur, you can re-join the chat quickly and members can get back in.
Only the moderator of the Live Chat should click the Start Live Chat button. If you are not the moderator, it is imperative that you do not click the Start Live Chat button.
- Once the Live Chat begins, you will see the Join Live Chat button. Please click this option to enter the Live Chat
- When the live chat begins, it is highly recommended for the moderator to post a quick set of instructions explaining how the live chat works and how members can participate. From there, the live chat usually begins with a Welcome Message promoting members to quickly introduce themselves to each other. This will get members familiar with typing in the chat box and allow everyone to get acquainted so they feel comfortable sharing their answers with the group. The moderators should introduce themselves first to break the ice for other members to participate.
- If you are having polls in your live chat, it is also recommended to have a practice poll at the very beginning as well, so members can practice answering the question in the live chat window.
- It is highly recommended to have a live chat script in a word document open in another window so you can easily copy/paste the text into the chat box to save time. Since things happen quickly during a live chat, having pre-written messages (such as the welcome message, instructions, closing, etc.) readily available to post in the live chat will be very helpful for you to have on hand.
Step 5: End the Live Chat and Provide a Transcript
At the end of the chat, let members know there are only a few minutes left and thank them for their time. We recommend keeping the chat open for a few minutes past the official end time to allow for any last member comments.
When members have left the chat, click End Chat to end the session. To download transcripts, go back to the Live Chat activity card and select Export from the drop-down. The raw data file will include the following:
- Chat overview (number of participants, etc.),
- Transcripts (organized by step in chronological order)
- Members (member profile information).
Live Chat content will fail under the following circumstances...
- Live Chat is not properly closed. To properly close, the Live Chat moderator needs to click ‘End Session’ inside of the Live Chat and NOT the ‘close’ button in admin.
- Pulling data from a demo session and not a real session.
Transcripts can be delivered on the day of a Live Chat.