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Have we met before? Online Communities in Alumni Relations Barney Ellis-Perry BA 87 CFRE University of British Columbia & Abe Geiger Affinity Circles.

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Presentation on theme: "Have we met before? Online Communities in Alumni Relations Barney Ellis-Perry BA 87 CFRE University of British Columbia & Abe Geiger Affinity Circles."— Presentation transcript:


2 Have we met before? Online Communities in Alumni Relations Barney Ellis-Perry BA 87 CFRE University of British Columbia & Abe Geiger Affinity Circles

3 Where are the kids at? Over 50% of today's college students report using one or more online community sites 55% of their younger siblings are doing so also! This is only part of their daily online experience along with MSN, Text messaging, Virtual world games, online games and using the internet for studying

4 What Makes a Social Network? Social Network: –A structure made of nodes (individuals) which are connected to one another through various social relationships Small World Experiment, Stanley Milgram Strength of Weak Ties, Mark Granovetter –6 Degrees of Separation (or Kevin Bacon)

5 Internet Users Internet use by demographic –87% of 12 -17 year olds –83% of 18-29 year olds, 37.5% increase since March 00 –82% of 30-49 year olds, 50% increase –50-64, 97% increase –91% of college educated people Pew Internet survey Dec. 2006

6 Social Network User Demographics MySpace –18-24: 18.1% –25-34: 16.7% Facebook –18-24: 34% –25-34: 8.6% Affinity Circles –18-24: 14.6% –25-34: 44.61% - comScore Media Metrix, August 2006 - Affinity Circles user data, February 2007

7 Samples of time students spend in social networks: Bowling Green State University: –65% log on daily to Facebook –85% long on at least once a week –93% log on at least once a month Michigan State University –84% members of Facebook in 2005 –93% in 2006 –20% spend more than 1 hour/day

8 Why do Students Use Facebook? (Health Education data, Michigan State University) Freshmen at MSU: –Make it easier to meet new people - 78% –Help keep informed about social events on campus - 66% –Make it easier to keep in touch with friends in other places - 95% How can we capitalize on these motivations?

9 The Paradigm Shift in Web Communication One-Size-Fits-All Static Content One to Many Personalized & Relevant User Generated Content Relationship-Driven

10 Facebook User generated content Constant updates from people you care about Pictures from peers

11 Why does social networking scare us?

12 Your Brand? Whos Brand? Circuit City Dating Ads Unfiltered Content

13 Myth Busters Social Network = –Inappropriate discussion topics –Revealing pictures –Obscene language…right? Not Necessarily –Locker room =… –Reunion = … –Homecoming =…

14 Behavioral Norms Behavior is a function of the people and the environment. This is true in off-line as well as online situations. Creating an environment consistent with your brand will result in behavior consistent with your brand. B = f (P X E)

15 Impact on Your Alumni In 2005, only 20% of alumni said they would pay a fee to join their alumni association, compared to 56% in 2002. The % of alumni making donations fell to 12.4% in 2005, down nearly 2% since 2001. The majority of 2005 graduates do not feel that they will be interested in their alumni magazine or in their Alma Mater. % of Alumni Using Social Networks Often Source: eGrad Survey, Jan 2006, Council for Aid to Education, Feb 2006 They are leaving you……and joining social networks

16 Value User-Centric – Dynamic content – Relevant & Personalized –Offers continuum of experience Flexible – Reconnect with friends – Share Media – Find Services – Find Advice – Network Professionally Private – Authenticated – Verified – Secure & Trusted Data & Insights –More contact updates for your database –More effective communications that leverage individual preferences and social relationships Engagement –Increased event participation –New member acquisition and retention –Your brand is the centerpiece – the value you create is attributed back to you Low Cost –Word of Mouth marketing greatly increases the impact of marketing campaigns –A solution that grows with you while enabling reduction of manual work For Your Alumni/ Students For Your Association

17 Creating Expectations Generally our customers expect us to have much more sophisticated data systems than we do For many large public universities 50% or more of their alumni will be under 30 very soon! By participating you run the risk of disappointing.

18 What are people currently using? You might be surprised at the number of online social communities already in play Start to explore them yourself Ask around Hold a focus group

19 Open vs. Closed Communities Open/Public Free! Market driven thus technologically must be up to the minute You are less legally liable Many alumni are already users Closed/Private Sense of exclusivity Authentication More professionally oriented Branding and awareness opps. You can access data

20 TrekConnect Here is a short tour of UBCs TrekConnect:

21 Getting Started 1.Set your goals at the outset 2.Be prepared to invest time and money 3.Be prepared to give up control 4.Plan for integration across your whole organization 5.Get ready for fun with lawyers

22 1. Goals Alumni engagement New emails Service to alumni Service to students What ever they are set your goals and be prepared to stand by them Getting Started

23 2. Be Prepared to invest You need a dedicated project manager You need a champion at the Sr. level It will cost you money today and every year in the future Getting Started

24 3. Control These communities must stand on their own and be nurtured but not controlled They will fail if seen as an institutional tool People may say negative things about your organization – thats okay! Getting Started

25 4. Integration While the community must be kept at arms length you must ensure your organization thinks about how to promote it and its benefits at all times Promotion and utilization of the community must become interwoven throughout your strategic planning Getting Started

26 5. Lawyers The terms of use statements are very important and must be carefully vetted by your legal council. If you are opening the community to students then you must be even more cautious If you are seeking data again be open about it. Getting Started

27 Sourcing a Vendor What to look for: Cultural fit Good recommendations Constant product upgrades Innovation Core competency is social technology User-Centric development approach Clear lines of communications

28 Marketing Its not always build it and they will come You must be prepared to aggressively market your new community You will need a marketing plan and money for implementation Email marketing has the highest return but exposure through other avenues is also important to create awareness

29 UBCs Marketing Campaign Hired a hot young design agency to create and execute an email based campaign Three blasts went out in June, July and September After each, the site saw a spike of on average 2000 new registrations Used design in print materials for consistent branding

30 Feeding and Watering Marketing and promotion must be continual Your main conveners may not be the usual suspects New added value opportunities need to be added regularly Share success stories ie: I got a job on TrekConnect Ensure integration in your strategic planning (worth repeating!)

31 Questions

32 Service Providers Affinity Circles Harris Connect University of Victoria Note: Define Social Network provision as ability to map relationships

33 Thank You! Barney Ellis-Perry BA 87 CFRE Director of Professional Affairs UBC Alumni Affairs Abe Geiger Director of Marketing Affinity Circles Professional Profiles for Barney and Abe are available at -To request access to this Social/Professional Networking community for Advancement and Alumni Professionals please email

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