University Alumni Affairs organizations and recruiting organizations would do well to spend a few minutes learning about how their prospective students and alumni engage with social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. In our postings, we’ll address how Alumni Affairs and recruiting organizations can use social media. We recently published a social networking guide for the Wharton School Alumni Association board. In it we included sections that indicated how to use Facebook and LinkedIn to (1) Create groups, (2) Attract a following and (3) Engage the following.
Best practices for how university alumni affairs associations can use Facebook:
When creating the group in Facebook:
- Use the Groups feature, not the Page feature if your group is going to be less than 5,000 (over 5,000 the feature for sending emails goes away)
- If you are planning on using Facebook for a larger group (over 5,000), consider using the Page feature which you can read about
- Create a Group for each class
- Create a Group for regional clubs (the Wharton club of New York for example)
- Create a Group for affinity clubs (The Wharton Private Equity Club for example)
- do not setup groups for events or reunions, promote events to the group using the “News” and “Events” features within Facebook
To attract the following for your University Alumni facebook group:
- When to setup the facebook groups for classes? The school should setup the class facebook page prior to the school year of the incoming class (For example, the Class of 2015 should be setup in August of 2010).
- Use a standard naming convention for naming classes: Wharton MBA Class of 2010 for example.
- The official Alumni staff or organizational leadership should setup the group on Facebook and the userid should be issued to the class leadership as well as a university staff member (to maintain some degree of administrative access to the group even though they may not access the group thereafter)
- The university should setup the class leadership, regional club leadership and affinity club leadership as administrators of these groups
- Alumni Affairs should give the group leader (ie. the class leader, the regional club leader, and affinity club leadership) email lists to these groups where they have them. These leaders should send out invitations to their groups encouraging them to join the facebook group.
- In cases where groups are broken down into smaller groups (such as Cohorts, or in military academies by squadron, company, regiments) encourage the lowest level of leadership to distribute the invitation to join the group.
- For classes that are still students, extend invitations to the group freshman year.
- For alumni classes, extend the invitation using traditional channels such as letter, announcements in the school magazine to alumni, and of course, using email sent by the school.
- Encourage current students to sign up for the group before they graduate. Include this task on the checklist given to students prior to out-processing from the University.
To engage the following for your University facebook group:
- Post events in the Facebook events area
- Post links to university news
- After events, post the links to pictures (use flickr for example) and encourage students to tag the photos
- You’ll see that natural leaders will emerge and post content. We’ll post additional ideas for how to create meaningful and engaging content for class alumni organizations and regional clubs. The process begins with the creation of an editorial calendar and an editor that follows up with those who accepted writing assignments. The trick is to split the work among many interested parties. Many hands make light work.
In a future post I’ll address how Alumni Affairs organizations can use LinkedIn to increase and how University Admissions teams can use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.