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Out of mind, out of site: Engaging with your Alumni online (Eduweb 2013)

Out of mind, out of site: Engaging with your Alumni online (Eduweb 2013)



Your alumni graduated years ago and no longer visit your University's website. So how do you keep them engaged, and how have new technologies such as social media and mobile devices changed your ...

Your alumni graduated years ago and no longer visit your University's website. So how do you keep them engaged, and how have new technologies such as social media and mobile devices changed your alumni communications? This session will demonstrate how data analysis has driven changes to online communications within the Victoria University Alumni Relations program, based in Melbourne, Australia. It will explore in detail an Alumni Relations campaign utilising online resources, managing online engagement with other departments in a University, finding lost and successful Alumni, and issues communicating with international Alumni. Presented at Eduweb, Boston, July 2013.



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  • There is a small window of opportunity to engage with your alumni, after that, their lives become too busy and a disconnect with the university sets in. Why? remain connected, give back, help shape your brand, create communities, network, mentor. Issues: trying to reach out to 100,000 alumni with limited resources.
  • Email addresses 60,000 (does not include unsubscribed) Most communications online
  • One of largest providers of Australian qualifications in China Offshore sites in China, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Germany, Kuwait, Vietnam
  • Heritage buildings: Queen St campus Modern architecture: Sunshine campus Laneways: cosmopolitan feel, public art, most european city in Australia Sports capital: Tennis, Formula 1, Melbourne Cup, AFL, all within a few miles of city centre
  • Education is Victoria’s largest export Population of 4 million, 6% are students
  • We are a department, not a separate association. Alumni relations has become more than a precursor to fundraising. It is about connecting the university past to the university present.  Office size explains why we do everything online. Part of Advancement Office with fundraising team. 3 Official chapters (Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong) then unofficial networks in Vietnam, PRC, Indonesia, India. Past in Thailand and Bangladesh.
  • IA reflects levels of engagement and response to analytics
  • 2 column layout: more info above the fold, main column has shorter line length, faster reading Read more: more articles in same space
  • Rolled out iphone and android templates
  • Open rate 17-23% July and December worst July is the worst month for event attendance (winter, EOFY) December holiday season Open rate also consistent with event attendance
  • iPhone 43.5%, Windows 33.6%, iPad 10%, Mac desktop 7.3% Android 4.8%
  • LI: 31% senior role at workplace
  • Sarah Carter, former Mayor (youngest ever Mayor). Wal Hopkins, class of 1939, community legend.
  • Very engaged, but some have never been to Melbourne State government has seen value, ie. Victorian Connections, tie in with trade missions E-cards are some of our most popular posts on Facebook
  • E cards also shared on Facebook and LinkedIn (often receive lots of likes), and within current international students. Also reflects diversity within Melbourne population.

Out of mind, out of site: Engaging with your Alumni online (Eduweb 2013) Out of mind, out of site: Engaging with your Alumni online (Eduweb 2013) Presentation Transcript

  • OVERVIEW • Introducing VU, Alumni Relations and Melbourne • Online communications • Mobile impact • Social media channels • Case study: Alumni Awards program • Engaging with International Alumni • Issues, tips and tricks • Questions
  • INTRODUCING VU • Founded 1916 • 52,000 Students • Dual Sector • 7 Academic Colleges • 9 Campuses in Melbourne • 97,000 Alumni
  • VU INTERNATIONAL • 7,000 International Students (1 in 5) • 13 Offshore sites in 7 Countries • Graduations in China and Malaysia *QS Best Student Cities in the World 2012
  • MELBOURNE • #4 Best Student Cities (2012, QS Rankings) • #1 World’s Most Liveable City (2012, 2013 Economist Intelligence Unit) • 9 Public Universities in Melbourne • Education is Victoria’s largest export
  • VU ALUMNI RELATIONS • 97,000 Alumni • Alumni Relations office since 1990s • 3 FTE staff • Central, shared service • 3 International Chapters
  • VU ALUMNI IT ThankQ Student / Enrolment Data Alumni Data VU Connect (Callista) Grad Roll Web Interfaces
  • VU ALUMNI ONLINE ThankQ Online donations Online events Update details Swift EDMs Newsletters Events Bulletins Social Media Facebook LinkedIn VU Website Chapters and networks Membership Qualification requests Alumni profiiles
  • EMAIL COMMUNICATIONS • Your VU E-News: • Quarterly • Distributed to 50,000 Alumni worldwide • Events Bulletin: • Quarterly • Distributed to 35,000 Alumni in Melbourne region • Ad-hoc: • College / cohort specific • As required
  • MOBILE VERSION • Your VU mobile templates rolled out 2011 • Australia has 9 million smartphone users (36%) • Highest penetration of tablet devices in the world • Easier for users to access content
  • READERSHIP DATA • Open rate affected by time of year, not time of day • Majority of readers open 2 articles
  • IMPACT OF MOBILE Devices used to read Your VU e-news Editiondateandtimesent
  • SOCIAL MEDIA SOURCE: http://www.mamamia.com.au/social/are-smart-phones-killing-memories/
  • SOCIAL MEDIA • Facebook • Official page started May 2010 • Currently 1,400 fans • 44% aged 25-34, 24% 18-24 • LinkedIn: • Started May 2008 • Currently 1,880 members • 65% in Melbourne
  • PROS AND CONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA Pros • Facebook: ease of sharing content between other pages • LinkedIn: the depth of data, alumni profiles • Engaging with 3,200+ Alumni Cons • Facebook: Standing out in the crowded feed • LinkedIn: Functionality • Potential for competitor advertising
  • CASE STUDY: ALUMNI AWARDS • An entirely online communications campaign • Utilises web, EDM, and social • Recognise and celebrate the achievements of Alumni community
  • ALUMNI AWARDS CAMPAIGN: LIFE CYCLE 1. Nominations open 2. Promoting awards throughout nominations period 3. Selection process 4. Awards night 5. Review and analysis
  • ALUMNI AWARDS CAMPAIGN: STEP- BY-STEP • Nominations open: • News page created on website • Nomination form and information kit on web • EDM sent to Alumni community • Announcements on FB and LI • Nominations sent via PDF
  • ALUMNI AWARDS CAMPAIGN: STEP-BY-STEP • Promoting the awards • Previous finalists asked to spread message via their networks • Month long social media plan • Divided content by audience
  • ALUMNI AWARDS CAMPAIGN: STEP-BY-STEP • LinkedIn: • Search LI for potential nominees • LI for Outstanding Service and Distinguished Alumni Awards • Facebook: • FB advertising • FB for Student and Young Achiever Awards • Daily post of previous finalists
  • ALUMNI AWARDS CAMPAIGN: STEP-BY-STEP • Selection process: • Committee sent nominations via PDF • Awards night: • Invitations sent via email • Award finalists news release ASAP • Links to FB and LI • Follow up story in Your VU e-news • Review: • Analysis of bit.ly links and web statistics • Update ThankQ records
  • INTERNATIONAL ALUMNI • 4,000 students overseas • In-country events • 3 VU International chapters • Other formal groups • E-cards
  • ISSUES WITH INTERNATIONAL ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT • Administering and governing associations • Succession planning committees • Cultural aspects • Great firewall of China
  • ISSUES WITH ONLINE ENGAGEMENT • Opt in / opt out • Updating details • Measuring engagement • Possibility of alienating groups / cohorts • Tapping into existing groups
  • TOOLS AND TIPS • Know your audience • Provide consistent message but adapt to fit context • Setup schedule • Try, try, try • Enlist help
  • Penny Richards Fowler Alumni Relations penny.richards-fowler@vu.edu.au @pennyrf vu.edu.au/alumni CONTACT DETAILS