How the Internet is Changing Alumni Communications Strategies
May 30, 2007
“What percentage of your staff’s time, resources, and energy is being spent on traditional communications strategies versus the Internet and e-mail? What impact is Web 2.0 having on alumni affairs and development? Explore these and other related questions. Take a look at what some of our peer institutions are already doing in these areas.
Main point: Alumni communications is now multichannel and personalized — it used to be like a bullhorn; now, it’s a collaboration.
- Build awareness.
- Change behavior.
- Strengthen relationships.
Using the data
- Measure effectiveness.
- Guage resource productivity.
- Target segments with programs.
- Audience: mass to niche.
- Cost: high (print and mail) to low (Web-based).
- Engagement: passive to active.
- Voice: institutional to personal.
- Communications group role: publisher to moderator — if you don’t moderate the discussion, someone else will … good or bad.
- Set business objectives.
- Usability, design, and content.
- Creatively use new tools.
- Be selective.
Book recommendation: “Don’t Make Me Think” (Steve Krug)
What are your business objectives?
- Ensure online alumni community is best in class.
- Leverage community to strengthen relationships.
- Raise awareness of alumni making a difference in the world.
- Increase alumni activity.
- 45 participants (1.5 hour each).
- Multiple geographic locations.
- Representative demographics.
- Web-based survey publicized by e-mail and posted on your site.
- Keep it short (25 questions).
- Site audits of your peers/industry leaders
Behavioral models/user types
- Harvard developed six primary personas across three scales:
- Career status: recent grad, mid-career, retiree.
- Location: local, regional, far away.
- Activity: high, low.
Moving to new channels
- Easy to set up.
- Push content.
- Not well understood.
- Slow adoption rate. [JC: not intended for end-users.]
Blogs and wikis
- User-generated copy.
- Producing is now pretty inexpensive.
- Quality is less important.
- Keep it short.
Staffing and resource implications
- Communications staff structure changes.
- Shifting budget: print vs. Web (Harvard: 80% print, 20% digital).
- CMS options: WordPress.com; Drupal.org; WebPaint.com; QuickBase.com
- Video hosting: Brightcove.com; YouTube.