“There’s still a lot of
experimenting going on with
social media, and it can be
full of surprises.”
University of Toronto Alumni
At the time of this post, this page has exactly 2000 likes.
Congratulations and welcome to the 2000+ club!
Nous vous remercions d’être venus nous visiter à
l’occasion de nos Portes ouvertes de samedi dernier!
La date limite pour déposer une demande d’admission à
un programme de baccalauréat au trimestre d’automne
est le 1er mars. Pour plus d’information :
5 Like Reply
Engagement étudiant à l’#udes : de la
théorie à la pratique en aidant la collectivité
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even most of the thousands of alumni at different life stages. It’s easy for
potential donors to tune out the message.
Moreover, social media have made it possible for universities to discover what alumni really care about and to invite them to be willing participants in an ongoing conversation. Strengthening those ties, say the
professionals, will ultimately lead to more successful fundraising.
Some alumni will even help solicit donations, as Andrew Pettit
(@cupOmagic) was inspired to do by McMaster University’s fundraising
campaign last December, tweeting that “I’ll donate $5 for every RT: #Mc-
Master’s 125 Bursary Challenge aka sharing ‘the best time of my life’ with
#HamOnt youth. mac125bursary.ca.”
McMaster’s goal was to raise $125,000 for student bursaries in 48
hours. McMaster began mentioning the campaign – part of its 125th an-
niversary celebrations – in its monthly email newsletter to all alumni, and
then seeded the discussions on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It all cul-
minated with 48 hours of fundraising on the mac125bursary.ca website.
“This is the first time we’ve done something like this. So far the results have been excellent,” reported an excited Kyle Kuchmey, McMaster’s digital communications alumni officer, halfway through the challenge. The university surpassed its goal, raising $180,942 from alumni
worldwide. Better yet, it reconnected with some alumni on its “do not
call” list who reached out to the university.
As McMaster’s experience shows, alumni can be very responsive to
social media when it’s used well. Social media can also nurture a sense of
community, as the University of Alberta’s school of public health found
through an alumni engagement survey last year. “Public health” had been
housed in different faculties and departments over the years, and it wasn’t
clear that alumni were aware that the school of public health existed; it
became a separate unit in 2006. The survey showed that 76 percent were
aware of the school “and feel affinity towards us,” says Andrea Lauder,
marketing and alumni relations associate at the school, who is doing her
master’s thesis on the topic.
“They were interested in hearing about alumni profiles, student pro-
files, research that is done by the school, and they want to be connected
and they want to contribute, even if they don’t live in Edmonton,” reports
Ms. Lauder. The school promptly set up a closed-membership group on
LinkedIn, with sub-groups on specific topics. “It gives them a place to
have safe and closed discussions about important health issues,” she says.
Often faculty- or region-specific groups or pages have an easier time
enticing alumni to participate than university-wide alumni pages do. Un-
like some, the U of A’s school of public health chose to merge alumni,
students and faculty in the same groups, to encourage interaction and
professional development. About 60 percent of the active participants
are students and about 30 percent are alumni, the second most active
group. It may be that mixing alumni, staff and students is a better model
for generating engagement, but research hasn’t yet answered that ques-
tion. University-wide Facebook pages tend to generate far more com-
ments, shares and likes than alumni-specific pages do, but how many of
those reactions are from alumni isn’t known.
The Université de Sherbrooke’s Facebook page has had nearly 20,000
likes and most of its posts get comments. A post mentioning that it ranked
as the top Canadian university, and sixth worldwide, in sustainable
development got 426 likes, 175 shares and 15 comments in just over a day.
It has not divided its efforts with a separate alumni page, however.
That could be because every page, group and profile needs constant
care and feeding. Many alumni and development departments struggle to
find adequate resources for this. Because of the volume of information
flowing through social media and the way postings are displayed in a
newsfeed, staff must post messages several times a day to ensure even
some of them are seen by alumni. Unlike a stock-market ticker, the news-