How the Internet is Changing Alumni Communications Strategies
“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.