How To Develop Your Social Media Strategy for Alumni Engagement – Part 1Posted: August 29, 2012
A solid online and social media strategy is a must-have for alumni associations that want to rally alumni in support of their alma mater.
A lot goes into developing a robust, comprehensive, and integrated strategy. To keep things simple for this post, I’ll focus on three high level things you should consider doing now to prepare your organization for the development of a detailed strategy. In my next post, I’ll describe the components that make up a good strategy.
1) Identify Your Online Ambassadors “Online ambassadors” is another term for the group of people who are fervent online and social media users AND who have a large and dedicated following of other online and social media users. Ambassadors are the web surfers who can convince large numbers of users to support a cause, attend an event, donate, enlist other new members, and just about any other online activity that comes to mind.
Online ambassadors are easy to spot. They have high Klout scores, a large number of followers (often larger than the number of people they follow), and they’re consistently active online. Online ambassadors get retweeted frequently, are often writers of blog posts and other online content, and occasionally hold influential positions outside of online and social media (think newspaper and TV reporters or politicians). Connect with online ambassadors who have an affinity for your institution, and you are one big step closer to achieving viral success through social media.
2) Build a Content Strategy Around the Habits of Your Online Ambassadors After you’ve identified your online ambassadors, find out what they like to do while they’re online. Part of any comprehensive strategy should be a content strategy that guides your organization’s daily online activity. Decisions about what to post should be driven by whatever it is your online ambassadors are looking for on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, etc. Are blog posts featuring alumni popular? How about videos from events? Are they looking for online mentorship opportunities? Whatever it is your ambassadors want from online and social media, find out. Then build a content strategy that provides them with this media on a consistent basis to develop strong online relationships with them.
3) Create and Leverage Relationships with Your Online Ambassadors Adhering to the basic tenets of social media – being responsive and sharing other users’ content, to name two – will nurture relationships with your alumni association’s online ambassadors. Over time, you’ll build a dedicated following of online and social media users who wield a great deal of influence in their own communities, online and off. That’s a great position to be in when you need your community to help you achieve something via online and social media.
For a great example, check out this post on Florida State University’s “Great Give.” During the Great Give, FSU’s annual giving team sent emails to their online ambassadors containing prepackaged social network updates. All the ambassadors had to do was copy the prepackaged updates and paste them in their social network of choice. Everything was less than 140 characters to make it Twitter friendly and often included links to the Great Give’s online giving page. The result? $186,000 raised entirely online in only 36 hours. Oh, and they gained 300 first time donors in the process, too. This was a fundraising effort, but the same approach works for event registration, membership drives, and pretty much anything else that can be done online.
Identifying online ambassadors is a vital first step in developing your online and social media strategy. Stay tuned for my next post in which I’ll describe the components that will make your strategy effective.
For more on how social media can enhance alumni engagement and advancement in higher ed, visit BWF.com.