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.

5 things to tweet about this year

August 10, 2009

As our social media strategy at Gettysburg has unfolded over the last year twitter has taken on a larger and larger role. The institutional twitter account @gettysburg has over 900 followers ranging from alumni, to staff, to news agencies. I have found twitter as an excellent free way to engage people about Gettysburg College. If your institution is struggling with how to use twitter here are 5 fairly simple ideas for twitter projects over the next year that stretch across various higher ed audiences.

Follow all of your alumni, employees, and friends of the college with accounts or at the very least who are following you. As the social media voice of your institution you can now listen to the conversation about your school in this space and maybe even pick up some good retweet opportunities.

Ask you admissions director to answer questions on the main institutional account for 2 hours one night close to the deadline to submit an application.

Campus Events
Pick a campus event, lecture, or speaker and have 2 or 3 students “live tweet” the event. Make sure they all use a hashtag so in your post event coverage you can pull a twitter search on that hashtag.

Ask your followers to vote for their favorite campus tradition. Make sure to publish the results not only on twitter but on the web, other social media sites, and your alumni magazine.

Annual Fund
Work with your development office to use twitter for a solicitation once during the year. Maybe your Senior Class gift campaign is the best place to try this approach. Make sure that you can track how many gifts and how much total money was raised from the twitter solicitation.

The future of alumni magazines

June 4, 2009

This week the new Newsweek has been a hot conversation on the CASE CUE (university editors listserve). A few weeks back Newsweek introduced a new look and new approach to their magazine.

In the May 16th issue editor Jon Meecham (who spoke at Gettysburg last year) described the changes:

And so the magazine you are holding now—the first issue of a reinvented and rethought NEWSWEEK—represents our best effort to bring you original reporting, provocative (but not partisan) arguments and unique voices. We know you know what the news is. We are not pretending to be your guide through the chaos of the Information Age. If you are like us, you do not need, or want, a single such Sherpa. What we can offer you is the benefit of careful work discovering new facts and prompting unexpected thought.

The chief casualty is the straightforward news piece and news written with a few (hard-won, to be sure) new details that does not move us significantly past what we already know. Will we cover breaking news? Yes, we will, but with a rigorous standard in mind: Are we truly adding to the conversation? When violence erupts in the Middle East, are we saying something original about it? Are our photographs and design values exceptional? If the answers are yes, then we are in business.

As a long time Newsweek reader I was impressed at the new approach and one particular line stuck out for me. “Are we truly adding to the conversation?” They truly get it. I don’t want the hardcore news I can get that up to the minute on the web from a weekly magazine. Can they give me value added? Can they make me think? Can they bring a different perspective that I haven’t thought about before? Can they offer me a fresh idea?

Are we seeing the future of alumni magazines? Maybe not this year or next but in 10-15-20 years when this generation is in their mid 40’s and  comfortable with technology and news on the web. Could this be the future for higher ed alumni magazines?

LinkedIn perfect time to get started

April 17, 2009

Graduation creates the perfect time to re energize your campaign on LinkedIn. With the Class of 2009 getting ready to graduate and move into the “real world” an opportunity to increase the size and participation of your LinkedIn is within your grasp. There are hundreds or in some cases thousands of new alumni getting ready to enter the work force what better way to help them then to invite them to join your group and get to know other graduates. Here is a resource that can help be a catalyst for your communication to the soon-to-be graduates

This is also a great way to reach out and collaborate with your Career Services area and form a strategic partnership. There are lots of stories about internships, externships, and alumni. A good relationship with the career office can help to collect those stories.