Social Media Akademie provide online social media training. They use Brightcove’s Video Cloud to deliver webinars and online video lectures
Founded in 2010, Social Media Akademie (SMA) is an online academy for German-speaking social media, communications and marketing professionals. The curriculum provides a wide range of learning opportunities, from beginner courses on social media and digital communication to advanced training and corporate programmes. The SMA’s online learning platform provides convenient, virtual training through webinars and on-demand online video lectures in HD quality, with recognised degrees and certificates available. Users can also choose to use a social learning method that creates a collaborative learning exchange.
A virtual academy from its inception, the Social Media Akademie required a secure video platform to display online webinars and video lectures for academic and corporate subscribers. Initially, the SMA worked with Microsoft Silverlight to power online content, but the technology became problematic when the SMA needed to provide user-friendly, secure access on more and more viewing devices. The SMA also needed a customisable solution to track and confirm students’ viewing progress, allowing them to meet and qualify for SMA programmes.
A foundation for learning
Securing and tracking viewership were two of Social Media Akademie’s greatest requirements as it searched to improve its online video platform. With users subscribing and viewing content from various networks, access needed to be easy and also secure enough for users on private corporate networks.
The SMA’s previous solutions, Microsoft Silverlight and later a Java-driven solution, required a multi-authentication process, meaning users had to click through five or more security questions before being granted access to SMA video content. The process was long, and SMA considered it a barrier to viewership.
“It took too long before the player started,” said Andreas Leonhard, chief executive officer of SMA. “We realised it isn’t the way people are used to watching video online anymore. We needed a player and distribution system that would give people the secured access, but was as easy as watching their favourite shows online.”
In addition, SMA needed an online video platform that would track viewers individually accessing its content from all browsers, platforms and devices. Because the company operates like an online university within its own learning platform, the SMA’s video lectures, along with homework and tests completed, must translate into course credits for students. And, to ensure students meet the course requirements to earn their programme certificates, the SMA needed a way to track and measure viewers individually. Certificate programs contain between 10- 20 video lectures, each one about 60 to 90 minutes in length. Students must view at least 80 percent of the video lectures, requiring the tracking capability to monitor both individual viewers and the percentage of videos they have watched completely.
As the SMA examined online video platforms on the market, the Brightcove Video Cloud online video platform emerged as the best partnership option.
“Overall, it was the best solution for our video needs,” said Leonhard. “It works well, it looks good and – most importantly – the company has a team of nearly 200 developers always updating and improving the technology to meet the latest versions of browsers, platforms and devices.”
The SMA worked with the Video Cloud development team to create a customised tracking and reporting system to connect its learning and online video platforms. “We told Video Cloud support staff what we needed, and they came together with our in-house developer to create a step-bystep approach for using Video Cloud’s open API,” said Leonhard. “The communication between teams was great; it worked very smoothly. And it didn’t take long before we had a solution that met our tracking needs.”
For students in the middle of SMA programmes during the Video Cloud transition, the change was noticeable. Feedback was extremely positive, with many students citing their preferences for Video Cloud’s improved, one-click viewing process as well as the mobile viewing capability.
“The greatest return on investment we’ve seen with Video Cloud is customer satisfaction,” Leonhard said. The SMA surveys its customers for feedback each year, reporting both overall experiences with coursework and individual elements, such as homework, pricing and video viewing experiences. Student satisfaction with the previous video player hovered around 70 percent, but since converting to Video Cloud, that rate has improved to more than 90 percent satisfaction.
A true partner
Leonhard additionally has been impressed by Video Cloud customer support. “Communication with Video Cloud’s team has been thorough and very responsive,” he said. “They are truly solution-oriented and always working together to find solutions with very fast, clear discussion between their development team and our developer. Video Cloud is very good on the project management side.”
And the SMA sees a lot of future opportunity in additional capabilities that Video Cloud provides. “Even if we see interesting capabilities we can’t execute yet, it’s inspiration for what’s possible for us in the future, and I use that in thinking of business ideas,” said Leonhard.
Currently, the SMA is exploring an additional membership platform for future implementation. Modeled on online subscription services, users would pay a monthly membership fee for access to short video tutorials, approximately 10 minutes in length, as well as other tools and resources like white papers, checklists and articles. The company would provide this access to nearly 400 video tutorials as part of the membership, but users would not receive course certifications.
“Video Cloud will be a large part of this new model, and its analytics will help us track video views to decide which content is the most popular, interesting and successful,” said Leonhard. “We’re excited by all the ways Video Cloud can continue to help us evolve our learning platform.”
Andreas Leonhard, chief executive officer of SMA, said: “We told Video Cloud support staff what we needed, and they came together with our in-house developer to create a stepby-step approach for using Video Cloud’s open API. The communication between teams was great; it worked very smoothly. And it didn’t take long before we had a solution that met our tracking needs.”