LinkedIn as a connection tool (an update)

March 8, 2011

In May of last year I wrote a post titled:  LinkedIn as an alumni connection tool

The post got quite a bit of traffic and I have had a number of institutions contact me in the last year about our efforts. I thought it would be appropriate to give an update on our efforts.

Today we are approaching almost 3,000 members of the Gettysburg College Professional Network on LinkedIn. Our collaborative efforts from last spring have proved to be well worth the time and effort we put in. One of the keys to our success was the group that assembled to work on the project. We had members of the alumni office, parent relations area, career development, and marketing and web teams. These groups continue to be engaged in the project.

Our goal for the project was quite simple, to connect alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff with each other professionally.

During the last year we have seen our membership grow, the conversations on LinkedIn develop, and the Professional Network become a part of the career development business process. While we were pleased with the number of people who had joined the group we were even more pleased with the number of jobs posted, questions asked, and discussions started among our members. The network has value to all involved.

One of the success stories from this year was when a prospective parent posted a question, “Hello, Gettysburg is at the top of my daughter’s short list of colleges. Two questions: How liberal is Gettysburg? And how safe is Gettysburg College for a young lady? Thanks!” 21 comments later the question was answered from all angles, from alumni and parents of various generations, and a variety of perspectives. The value of the network was never more evident than that day.

Career Development routinely works with students and actively works to help them join and use LinkedIn as a key networking tool. Building our base on LinkedIn has also helped to fuel a new initiative at the College. Gettysburg will conduct an intensive five-year campaign to create 1,832 (the year the college was founded) new career-related opportunities for students by 2014, and we’re depending upon alumni, parents, and friends of the College to make these opportunities a reality. LinkedIn will play a role in helping us meet and exceed this goal.

Facebook vs. Homepage

February 25, 2011

The king of promotion at a college is getting your event, story, or idea on the homepage. It is the most covented space in terms of promotion and has, at least at Gettysburg, replaced even the honor of being a feature in the alumni magazine as top dog. But when will being on the college homepage be replaced? What will replace it? How about a post on Facebook?

Facebook provides campus organizations with a great chance to reach their audience in a really easy way. Users have to actually visit our website to see your promotion on but on Facebook it gets delivered right to our fans newsfeed. We know that our current students and young alumni are on Facebook each day – how often to they read the stories on the homepage?

Our average news story gets about 500 unique clicks. An average Facebook post can get up to 10,000 impressions.With the number of people who like Gettysburg College increasing each semester (Fall to Spring we saw over 1,000 people like the Facebook Page) it is only a matter of time until a Facebook post is more coveted then the homepage.

Take a look at Missouri State’s website. The middle section on news and events is actually a pull from various Facebook accounts. Is this the future of higher education sites?

2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,700 times in 2010. That’s about 16 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 13 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 169 posts.

The busiest day of the year was May 26th with 138 views. The most popular post that day was LinkedIn as an alumni connection tool.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were, Google Reader,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for social media logo, academic websites, beloit mindset list, alumni magazines, and higher ed web.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


LinkedIn as an alumni connection tool May 2010


What makes a good academic department website? February 2009
4 comments and 1 Like on,


Sustaining a social media program March 2009


Social media icons on the homepage September 2009


About Paul Redfern April 2008
1 comment

LinkedIn as an alumni connection tool

May 26, 2010

At the start of the semester I was approached by our Career Development office about my thoughts for connecting alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff with each other professionally. They wanted Gettysburg people to be able to find other Gettysburg people in related fields. Although we have an alumni log-in community called myGettysburg it didn’t connect all the audiences to each other.

We pulled together a collaborative group from my office, Career Development, Alumni, and Parent relations. After spending an hour putting LinkedIn to the test we decided that it was the tool for Gettysburg to use to connect our audiences professionally. We had about 1150 people in the Gettysburg College group on Feb 1. We renamed the group the Gettysburg College Professional Network and had a goal to increase the number of people in the group to 1,832 (the year the college was founded) by April 7 (founders day).

Our campaign was a huge success and we ended with over 1,900 users. As of today we have close to 2,100 users and have created an active community. Users have posted questions ranging from networking in a new city to what kind of events our regional alumni clubs should be hosting. Alumni are posting jobs available in their companies and younger alumni have reported finding jobs and contacts through the network.

One of the most interesting things that we have seen are the number of new Class of 2014 parents who not only want to join but already are asking to host internships on behalf of the College.

As a free tool that gives us the ability to connect all of our audiences we could not have designed a better system. Career Development and Alumni Relations have taken clear ownership over the network as well and have begun weaving it into their yearly communication plans.


March 23, 2010

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Annual CUPRAP Spring Conference. It was a good conference and worth my time. But I saw an interesting social media campaign by a vendor that I thought was worth mentioning here.

A few days before the conference I started to tweet using the hashtag #cuprap. Whenever I speak on social media I like to use the conference hashtag as a teaching point. Zone 5, a communications firm, was also using the hashtag with an interesting promotion. They were encouraging people to #findray at the conference. There were buttons and logos and Ray even started tweeting from sessions and some of the nighttime conference functions. At one point I think Ray even made a comment about the mustard sauce at the Thursday night dinner.

Eventually I did find Ray – or maybe Ray found me. But Ray turned out to be Ray Witkowski an employee of Zone 5 who had not attended the conference before. Once you found him you got a t-shirt and a chance to win an Ipad. I found the approach refreshing, interesting, and a good use of social media to create buzz. I may never use the firm but they will stick in my head as innovative and interesting in the future.

CUPRAP Conference

March 11, 2010

I had the opportunity to attend my first CUPRAP conference today and present with Alana Mauger, Director of Communications, at Montgomery County Community College in PA. We had a great session with lots of good questions and interaction. You can follow the CUPRAP conversation on twitter at #CUPRAP. I promised to post our powerpoint so here it is please feel free to download it and share/steal ideas from it. I’m sorry we didn’t get through everything but as one twitter follower commented this afternoon”You’ve done a good job when you don’t get to finish.”

Snow people and social media

February 19, 2010

Last week at the CASE district II conference I wrote a note to myself in one of the sessions about social media. I commented that people in the session seemed to think figuring this social media “thing” out was so hard. I had an experience this past week that makes it seem easy and just about connecting people.

You may have heard that we got a bit of snow here in the Mid-Atlantic region. A few of our alumni staff members built some snowmen outside of the main administration building and dressed them up in Gettysburg gear, and sent us a picture. (below) The online content editor used it as a photo of the day ( and we posted the link to our Facebook Fan page. It took all of maybe 10 total minutes total to execute. What were the results?

14 likes and 2 positive comments on Facebook

The page on our photo of the day site that we linked to got close to 400 unique views (which is more than our average news story)

Social Media is all about connection. Connect people to what they remember, love, want to see about your school and you probably can’t go wrong until the sun comes out and melts your snowmen away…