In the Shadow of the Colossi: Alumni Online Communities in the Age of Facebook and LinkedIn


Published on

Your alumni online community can’t compete with Facebook for social conversations, and it can’t compete with LinkedIn for career connections – so don’t even try. It can, however, provide tools and information that alumni cannot find anywhere else. Find out how to combine the benefits of your proprietary network with the major social media outlets to create a one stop toolkit to help your alumni do what they want to do quickly and easily.

Unlike admissions, where the demographic is largely homogeneous in terms of age and technological aptitude, alumni span many different generations and a wide spectrum of comfort levels with technology and preferences for media consumption. It is a real challenge to successfully leverage the right online tools for the right alumni sub-audience while keeping everything under one cohesive brand.

I hope my experience at SUNY Geneseo as manager of the U-Knight launch project and ongoing role as online community manager can help others who are undertaking such projects. I’ll speak about the approach I took to U-Knight and what progress and stumbling blocks have been encountered along the way.

Specifically this presentation will be useful for those working with:

* Harris Connect, iModules, and other online alumni directory software
* Alumni relations websites
* Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages that are targeted towards alumni audiences

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Irony that Facebook started as a walled garden.
  • Sealed communities makes me think of locking all our alumni in a room with no way out.Imodules – 600 schools, half public half privateHarris Connect – Over 700
  • Missing or incorrect info was not part of the datasetPrivacy was matched to be the same as the print directory / white pagesRegistration was handled by self-service web form IT programmed a script to transfer both ways nightly
  • In the Shadow of the Colossi: Alumni Online Communities in the Age of Facebook and LinkedIn

    1. 1. Alumni Online Communities in the Age of Facebook and LinkedIn #soc12 #heweb11
    2. 2. That‟s Me.That‟s You.
    3. 3. Who am I?Fran Zablocki,Online Community ManagerSUNY Geneseo Alumni Relations
    4. 4. What have I done?!!Planned, built, branded and launched SUNYGeneseo‟s new online alumni community.
    5. 5. What am I talking about?State of the alumni online community industryStrategy and execution behind U-KnightResults and lessons learned
    6. 6. State of the Industry
    7. 7. State of the industryFull Service Alumni Systems “Walled Gardens”1 Closed to non-alumni Trade size in for exclusivity Use alumni trust as competitive advantage 1. From Andy Shaindlin @alumnifutures -
    8. 8. Full Service Alumni Systems
    9. 9. State of the industryNiche tools that are targeted to alumniEverTrue mobile alumni apps
    10. 10. State of the IndustryCrossover solutions not specific to alumni
    11. 11. State of the industryOpen Public NetworksColossi that dominate public social media spaceOverlap most if not all features of private networks
    12. 12. Private Network Challenge: Be Relevant
    13. 13. • My moment of panic… • The Harris Connect 5 year contract was already signed before I arrived. • Did I just inherit a system that is already dead in the water? • I needed to figure out a way to make it work. • I had 10 months. %#$!
    14. 14. A solution…hopefully
    15. 15. The Project Plan
    16. 16. What is U-Knight?The elevator speechU-Knight is a collection of online sites andservices that help Geneseo alumni find andconnect with each other and the institution bysharing news, conversation, experiences andexpertise.
    17. 17. What is U-Knight?One sentenceA place online for alumni to do the things thatthey want to do to engage with each other andGeneseo.
    18. 18. GoalsLaunch U-Knight in 10 months (by Oct. 2010)Achieve 5,000 alumni registrations within oneyear (10% of all alumni)
    19. 19. GoalsEstablish and grow the alumni online socialmedia presenceGet 50% of the graduating class of 2011registered for U-Knight
    20. 20. Components of aSuccessful LaunchCollaborative Project TeamData IntegrationFeature SelectionMarketing and Promotion
    21. 21. The Project Team
    22. 22. Cross Divisional Project TeamAdvancement Data ServicesAlumniITMarketingProject Manager (Me)
    23. 23. Data Integration
    24. 24. Data IntegrationThe online community is only as good asyour online directoryThe online directory is only as good asyour dataGarbage data will undermine your efforts
    25. 25. Data Integration IssuesIntegrity: missing/incorrect informationPrivacy: what is hidden by defaultAuthentication: getting IDs to usersTimeliness: must synchronize nightly
    26. 26. Feature Selection
    27. 27. Feature Set Selection What actions do alumni want to take?  Share  Find  Promote  Participate  Discuss
    28. 28. Feature Set Selection What actions does Geneseo want alumni to take?  Share  Lead  Find  Support  Promote  Participate  Discuss
    29. 29. Feature SelectionFind the right mix of featuresFind the best provider for each featureDon‟t use a solution just because you‟vealready paid for it – ie: Harris social media
    30. 30. Feature SelectionFeature ProviderOnline Directory Harris ConnectAlumni Search Harris ConnectPermanent alumni email Harris ConnectEvent Registration Harris ConnectClass Notes Harris ConnectBroadcast News Facebook, Twitter, LinkedInDirect Dialogue Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
    31. 31. Feature SelectionFeature ProviderJob Postings LinkedIn, Harris ConnectJob Search LinkedIn, Harris ConnectPhoto Sharing Facebook, FlickrPhoto Galleries FlickrFAQ Alumni WebsiteSocial Media Directory Alumni WebsiteMobile Site / Apps TBD
    32. 32. Marketing and Promotion
    33. 33. Umbrella StrategyEvery site and feature tied to one brandAllows flexibility to change feature mix withoutlosing brand identity
    34. 34. Recognizable, MemorableLogos
    35. 35. Keep It SimpleFunnel everything to a single placeLet people take action quickly
    36. 36. Marketing and PromotionCross media effort through many channels Website Print Social Media Email Blog In Person
    37. 37. Online Presence
    38. 38. U-Knight Homepage
    39. 39. Login for Every Page
    40. 40. Quick Links on AlumniHomepage
    41. 41. Alumni Blog
    42. 42. Twitter
    43. 43. Facebook
    44. 44. LinkedIn
    45. 45. Social Media Directory
    46. 46. U-Knight and Social MediaTutorial Videos
    47. 47. Print Advertising
    48. 48. Email Promotion
    49. 49. In Person Engagement
    50. 50. Registration Kiosks
    51. 51. Registration Kiosks
    52. 52. Social Media BusinessCards
    53. 53. Social Media BusinessCards
    54. 54. Staff Manuals
    55. 55. Results
    56. 56. Results After 1 Year Almost 4,500 (90% to goal and 9% of all alumni) registered users Over 55% (600) of class of „11 signed up before graduation 2,660 Facebook fans on new page 10,000 unique visits to U-Knight homepage
    57. 57. Results After 1 Year 15,000 alumni directory searches performed 250 Class Notes submitted online 2011 SUNYCUAD award of excellence for U-Knight as Best in Category: Alumni Programs
    58. 58. Lessons LearnedCreating an online alumni communityinvolves a ton of offline workSuccessful implementation requires anentire division, not just one personUsing traditional media to promote newmedia works, cross media is the goal
    59. 59. Lessons LearnedPrivate networks can be relevant inconjunction with public networks becauseyour alumni trust youPrivate network software contains a ton ofbloatware, so be skeptical
    60. 60. Lessons LearnedIf the vendor‟s writing isn‟t up to par, scrapit and write it yourselfSelf-service ID tools save tons of customerservice time
    61. 61. My new moment ofpanic… • Purchased Harris Career Advisory Network in July • LinkedIn Classmates just released Oct. 20 • Is our new module irrelevant overnight? • %#$! • Stay Tuned!
    62. 62. Next Steps
    63. 63. Social Media Mashup Page
    64. 64. Event Curation Using Storify
    65. 65. MobileMobile
    66. 66. Fran ZablockiOnline Community ManagerSUNY Geneseo @Zablocki