Unleashing the Power of Facebook

There is a recent trend to downplay the power and the potential of a Facebook “like.” I’ve thumbs upseen professionals write that the act of liking a page is a simple, one-time occurrence that signifies only a passive type of engagement (full of sound and fury signifying nothing). Of course, if you are just looking to collect likes in order to justify your organization’s popularity, you have not seen the true connective power of Facebook as it relates to alumni relations.

If any organization is going to focus time and energy to developing a Facebook presence they must look to Facebook as a part of an overall social media or electronic media strategy. Each like should be viewed and treated as an “opt-in” to receive more engaging, timely information from alma mater.  The user is telling you they want to engage, and you can’t leave them hanging! If you treat your likes as alumni looking to  engage and stay informed, there are some great heights you can achieve and below are some strategies and techniques you can use to reach those heights:

1. Your content must be succinct, strategic, grammatically correct and visually appealing. Not only is this wise strategy, but an image attached to a post will play nicely with Facebook policies/best practices and land your post near the top of your users’ news feed. It behooves alumni organizations to learn Facebook’s ever-evolving tricks to ensure your posts don’t get buried in the clutter of Facebook (running ads and promoted posts work too!).

2. Facebook, currently the most popular social media platform is frequently a gateway to other social media.  Use this platform to encourage others to connect via your LinkedIn group, post pictures to your Instagram page or push users back to your website–your limitless online alumni association headquarters.

3. Use Facebook to promote exclusive information – be it a special promotion, a weekly photo caption contest or a way to conduct on online scavenger hunt. Employing this tool will encourage users to rely on your Facebook page for insider information or special opportunities.

4.  Be nostalgic! University campuses are beautiful and images of that beauty can elicit comments reminiscing about the “good old days.” A photo of the first snowfall of the year, a picture of campus art or even a popular shade tree will bring alumni back to their glory days.

5. Those who like your page may not spend hours on your page tagging photos, but you can still keep them engaged in even a subliminal way. When you post content on an ongoing basis your items show up in your viewers’ news feeds. Your connections will see your posted content and either react with a comment or mentally register that alma mater is active in engaging them. Either way, you have made an impression on some level.

As with any tool in our arsenal, it Facebook can be a very powerful, viral medium if properly harnessed. It is up to the alumni staff and volunteers to harness this power to work within an already well-developed communications strategy.

This isn’t an exhaustive list that contains all the powers of Facebook, but hopefully gets you thinking. Comments and additional ideas are encouraged.


A Century of Alumni Engagement

As our profession unofficially turns 100 (we look pretty good for reaching the century mark), CASE is throwing a year-long celebration to mark this milestone. We’ve come a long way in the past one hundred years, and the future holds limitless potential for this profession. Recently, I’ve been remarking that alumni relations is going through a renaissance of sorts–manifested through an increased attention to engaging alumni by many strategy-minded institutions and alumni associations.

As public dollars towards higher education wane, colleges and universities need to look to alumni and friends as critical revenue sources. Cultivating, maintaining and increasing this kind of private support can not only fall to the university president or development officers. Alumni professionals can, and should, play a increased role in engaging donors and increasing dollars into the institution.

I personally find it promising that institutions and advancement professionals are abandoning the stale “we have always done it this way” mentality and challenging themselves to adapt to a more progressive stance–one that better relates to their constituency and their challenges. For example, alumni have less time and money than ever before. We are asked to provide them with more personal interaction and more personalized engagement. You can also throw out the idea that if you create an event, alumni will flock to attend it. It’s no longer enough to bring a football coach to a local bar and get 100 people in attendance. Events need to be layered and multifaceted, giving guests many ways to get informed and engaged.

Whenever I need a good reminder of where we are going, I refer to this nifty CASE article that really illustrates the power and the promise of our profession.