Organize without Organization.
Today, Universities and Alumni Associations no longer have monopoly over Alumni Data.
Alumni can organize their own special interest groups and target event invitations to exclusive audiences.
In fact, many students have already started their own Alumni Groups on the different social media platforms, and the birth of Web 2.0 have already enabled Alumni to self organize, self coordinate and self form their own interest groups to network and organize events.
So instead of hindering the self formation of ad hoc alumni groups, Universities should look in to facilitating such phenomena.
The Birth of the Community Manager.
Just like a social media team in a company, the idea of leveraging social media in education advancement is to build a non-marketing voice and build online networks.
As Andy put it: "Internet is not a broadcast medium"
Social platforms (like online networks) are now "listening stations" for organizations.
"Every network has an underlying purpose" and motivations for such network creation. The role of the community manager is to hold the collective vision, create and manage relationships and manage collaborative processes.
In an article by Jeremiah Owyang :"The Four Tenets of the Community Manager", He lists a few good roles the Community Manager should have.
The Four Tenets of the Community Manager
In the following, I’m not going to list out all my findings, but it was clear there were 4 number of Tenets, or beliefs that each role holds. In nearly all the job descriptions, the following beliefs were spelled out as requirements for the role.
1) A Community Advocate
As a community advocate, the community managers’ primary role is to represent the customer. This includes listening, which results in monitoring, and being active in understanding what customers are saying in both the corporate community as well as external websites. Secondly, they engage customers by responding to their requests and needs or just conversations, both in private and in public.
2) Brand Evangelist
In this evangelistic role (it goes both ways) the community manager will promote events, products and upgrades to customers by using traditional marketing tactics and conversational discussions. As proven as a trusted member of the community (tenet 1) the individual has a higher degree of trust and will offer good products.
3) Savvy Communication Skills, Shapes Editorial
This tenet, which is both editorial planning and mediation serves the individual well. The community manager should first be very familiar with the tools of communication, from forums, to blogs, to podcasts, to twitter, and then understand the language and jargon that is used in the community. This individual is also responsible for mediating disputes within the community, and will lean on advocates, and embrace detractors –and sometimes removing them completely. Importantly, the role is responsible for the editorial strategy and planning within the community, and will work with many internal stakeholders to identify content, plan, publish, and follow up.
4) Gathers Community Input for Future Product and Services Perhaps the most strategic of all tenets, community managers are responsible for gathering the requirements of the community in a responsible way and presenting it to product teams. This may involve formal product requirements methods from surveys to focus groups, to facilitating the relationships between product teams and customers. The opportunity to build better products and services through this real-time live focus group are ripe, in many cases, customer communities have been waiting for a chance to give feedback.
Basically, a community manager should have big eyes and small mouth.
And the 2 important questions that the alumni association needs to ask is:
1) For the initiative you want to start -- does the alumni want it?
2) For the service you want to provide (or build) -- is it easier to be accessed elsewhere?
If your organization is interested in engaging Alumni and Students in Social Media, please bear in mind: What works for someone may not work for you. But feel free to consider all the best practices by other organizations around the world.
University of Michigan
University of Texas at Austin
More examples on Mashable article: 10 Ways Universities Share Information Using Social Media
If you have any other suggestions, feel free to share!
-- Robin Low