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Social Media & Alumni Affairs

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment

What do we mean when we say we want to “engage our alumni”? It depends on the institution and where you sit within the institution. If you’re operating your social channels from a Public Affairs or a campaign perspective, you may be trying to get university messaging about campaign priorities in front of alumni. If you’re doing it from an Annual Fund perspective, you could be taking baby steps towards actual solicitation via social channels, or you could be conveying stewardship messaging. If you’re doing it from an Alumni Affairs perspective, you might be trying to generate a critical mass of audience around a particular affinity or help promote an upcoming reunion. The point being, of course, that each of these units has goals that contribute toward broader institutional priorities. And unless you’re using the social platforms to advance these goals, you’re always going to have a hard time answering questions about ROI. It’s very easy to get distracted by new tools that are bright and shiny and treat them as ends in-and-of themselves, but as Andy Shaindlin has observed, your ultimate focus needs to be the behavior you want to cultivate, not the technology.

…Despite the current court battle that’s trying to quantify the value of a follower on Twitter, I don’t think we’re ever going to get anywhere trying to persuade people that there’s an innate value to a “like” on a fan page or a follower on Pinterest. If we’re being strategic, we need to ask the follow-up question of “Great. So how does that follower help you advance your unit’s goals?” From my team’s vantage point in Alumni Affairs and Development, we’ve concluded that we need to focus on using our suite of tools to enhance the footprint and amplify the impact of things that our organization is already doing well. For instance, we’ve spent lots of time and energy over the past year figuring out how to livestream live events to our Facebook audience. These are events that are already aligned with strategic priorities – if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be happening to start with. With just a modest, incremental investment of effort, we can take that event and make it available to an audience that is much broader than the live audience. The content that is already important enough to warrant an event is now accessible in real time around the globe.

Being able to report that we increased the size of the audience for an event by 175% and had viewers in 24 different countries lines up with existing metrics and goals in a way that saying that we increased our number of followers on Twitter by 8% simply does not. Sure, the two are related – the larger the audience on the social channels, the larger the audience for livestreams in that space – but one deals with priorities around which there is already consensus and one does not.

Via Social Media Today and Tomorrow

Social Technologies & Value Creation

Social technologies “may become the most powerful tools yet developed to raise the productivity of high-skill knowledge workers — the kind of workers who help drive innovation and growth, and who are going to be in increasingly short supply.

This is one of the surprising takeaways from our recent research on the economic impact of social technologies. The business world knows (or thinks it knows) a lot about how social technologies are changing the world. With consumers spending gobs of time in online communities (more than 1.5 billion consumers around the globe have an account on a social networking site and almost one in five online hours is spent on social networks), marketing departments have increasingly shifted their attention to social media. They’re not only advertising and creating their own social sites, they’re engaging with consumers, listening in on unfiltered conversations, and soaking up huge amounts of data on consumer behavior — all of which is producing nifty new insights for fine-tuning product requirements and marketing messages.

It’s powerful stuff that will continue to evolve and change the way that companies market to consumers and B2B customers. But, it turns out that there’s something even more powerful at play: the potential for value creation when social technologies are used to improve collaboration and communication within and across enterprises is twice as big as the value that can be created through all other uses across the value chain.

Via Social Media’s Productivity Payoff

Prestige

…if your goal is to leverage the degree into a high-paying corporate job, then the “brand name” truly matters. The idea of putting yourself into debt can be intimidating, especially if you’re not from a wealthy family. But the extra expense of a prestigious school will usually pay off

Alumni network. Most high-powered executives simply won’t make time for an ambitious young professional—unless he or she is a student at his alma mater.

Peer network. The best schools usually attract motivated, ambitious students—so if you attend one, in 10 or 15 years your peer network is likely to be orders of magnitude better than it would otherwise be.

 …Recruiters. Finding excellent job candidates can be hard—therefore, many top firms take the short cut of recruiting from a limited number of high-calibre schools, which have essentially done the screening for them.

Turbocharging your resume. There are certain powerful signals of professional accomplishment. If you become a Rhodes Scholar or attend Harvard or an IIM, that’s a permanent fact that most people will remember—and it will influence their perception of you. For the rest of your life, you’ll be marked as exceptional, because a high-quality brand has embraced you as one of its own. That alone is often worth the price of admission.

Via Why the brand name matters

Achievement Addiction

…they’re very, very smart. And they’ve learned at an early age to leverage that characteristic. I think that they are highly competitive. I think they’re impatient with other people and themselves. I think that in most everything they’ve done, they’ve been very successful. I think that they’re hungry for feedback, and mainly positive feedback. And they traditionally have overloaded agendas.

…And one of the dilemmas and the characteristics of these individuals is that when everything’s going fine, everything’s going fine. But when they hit a blip or they feel overloaded or they can’t do things in terms of the quality that they want to do them, rather than saying well, I just can’t deal with these, what happens is they overreact and start to say very, very negative things to themselves about why did I choose this job, I’m failing at this, my home life isn’t what I wanted it to be, I’m not living in the city. So they really create a kind of a catastrophic picture. And clearly, this 43-year-old headmaster had done that. So the dilemma is once they get stuck and feel that way about themselves, clearly what they do is they manipulate their environment to get some positive feedback. And then they jump right back to where they were before.

…early on, they figured out that they had this drive. And I think they began to leverage it. And they also began to compete. And it’s not just to be number one once or twice, but it’s to be number one all the time. And so what happens gradually is that the external criteria for success becomes the norm. So we’re not looking at our own talents and saying, how have I grown and developed these talents that I’ve realized over the years? What I do is I say, well, when I go to this five-year reunion, how am I going to compare with all those people that I competed with? And so it’s that success is only defined in terms of how I do based on other people. And that, in itself, becomes addictive and becomes its own pattern.

Via The Hidden Demons of High Achievers

The Sad State of Friendship

As Brian and his wife wandered off toward the No. 2 train afterward, it crossed my mind that he was the kind of guy who might have ended up a groomsman at my wedding if we had met in college.

That was four years ago. We’ve seen each other four times since. We are “friends,” but not quite friends. We keep trying to get over the hump, but life gets in the way.

Our story is not unusual. In your 30s and 40s, plenty of new people enter your life, through work, children’s play dates and, of course, Facebook. But actual close friends — the kind you make in college, the kind you call in a crisis — those are in shorter supply.

As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.

No matter how many friends you make, a sense of fatalism can creep in: the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now…

As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.

Via Friends of a Certain Age

Quote of the Day

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Networking for the Win

Too many people fail at the followup, IMHO.

1. Press the flesh.

The core to networking is meeting people face to face. Except for rare occasions, such as long-distance online romances, all the friends and business colleagues that we trust we’ve met in person. If you think you can be an effective networker solely by engaging in social media, you’re sorely wrong. You have to get out and press the flesh.

4. Always follow up.

This is the core of all networking: following up. If you don’t do it, you might as well never have met the person. I would estimate that one out of 20 people I hand my business card to follows up. Collecting business cards without following up is a wasted engagement. It only takes days for the person to completely forget meeting you. If you follow up with some level of context of your meeting it increases the value and impact of the meeting. To remember that meeting, take notes on the business card.

When you do follow up, be specific about your follow up. Don’t just say, “Nice to have met you,” or, “We should meet for coffee sometime,” because that now puts the onus on the other person to set up the meeting and discuss its purpose. That’s quite a burden. If you want that to happen, you need to set the place, time, and purpose of the discussion.

7. Listen.

Yes, it’s good to be directed about what you’re doing and have focus, but you’ll be a far more effective networker and make better connections if you simply listen to others. If someone else isn’t as much a talker as you are, then ask questions. Pull them out of their shell; that will let you to listen to them. Networking is not an opportunity for you to spout out marketing copy that you hope someone else will absorb. Your job is to listen and create a relationship first.

Via 10 networking tactics that most people screw up