From a budget perspective, 2010 looks to be another tight year. Operating expenses will remain slim and fundraising will continue to be a challenge. Given this scenario, educational institutions must continue to leverage low-cost ways to run marketing and fundraising campaigns. Luckily, social media venues afford institutions a cost-effective and efficient way to reach alumni.
Sites like Face book, Twitter and LinkedIn are excellent ways to deliver messages, organize giving campaigns, and plan events. But savvy education marketers realize they are also great venues to do two important social media activities: listen and help.
Perhaps the number one misperception about social media is that it’s about delivering messages. A more useful application is listening. Your alumni are an extension of your brand. Use social media to listen to what they are saying about you, their career experiences and the world in general. These tools and opportunities can help you stay connected and create affinity between your organization and your brand ambassadors.
One great way to build affinity is to help your alumni. Social media is an excellent way to help these constituents with their careers. Of course, many schools have online job databases. But social media is an effective way to augment those databases and reach alumni where they are spending time online. Schools should set up alumni groups on Facebook and LinkedIn so former students can talk to each other and share tips and leads. School administrators can also post messages to the group on these sites and receive instant feedback.
Listening and helping your constituents is a sure fire way to nurture a community and add value. And in doing so, you will be extending your brand, empowering some of your most important brand ambassadors, and that should lead to stronger networks, valuable interactions and ultimately, increased giving.