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May 10, 2005

Worst Practice #3

Not getting new graduates to register in the online community!

Diplallinone_2 Ok, here’s another worst practice that involves graduates.

As graduates leave their campus, few are registered in an alumni online directory or community.  On rare occasions, we’ve seen some colleges who have strategies in place to get graduates registered in the online directory, but few make a concerted effort or give the graduates reasons why they should become a part of the alumni online community.   

Results are mixed.  In some cases, we’ve seen 90 percent or more of the graduates registered, but at the vast majority of alumni online directories we’ve identified, most colleges have fewer than 30 percent of their graduates registered.

Why?

Primarily because of lack of marketing!  Take a moment to think about what your institution is doing to connect students with the university before they leave.  Is your organization aggressively marketing to them to explain why they should register in the online directory?   Have you placed articles in the campus newspapers, handed information out at graduation or Grad Fairs?

One of the unfortunate results of not having a strategic plan to get graduates registered in the alumni online community is that, commercial online communities/social networking communities like www.friendster.com, www.flickr.com , www.thefacebook.com , www.connectu.com and even www.classmates.com are attracting a HUGE number of your alumni.

The downside to this is that your alumni will begin to develop their loyalty and set their behaviors around their site not yours.  As they use it more, they’ll update more data fields and attract their friends to the commercial website, not yours. As they continue to do this, your alumni and development office loses out on gaining the latest updates in their address, employment and other data that alumni associations need.

So we talked about how low the participation rate of colleges Diplno_flowergirl_1and universities with online directories is, worse yet, is the fact that over 70 percent of the colleges worldwide are not even providing password protected social networking directories designed to engage and involve alumni. These colleges are missing out on connecting and networking with their graduates in a big way.

What are your thoughts?  Got some ideas on how others can take this out of the BUCKET and make it a Best Practice?   I challenge you to share your ideas!

Posted by Don Philabaum on May 10, 2005 at 05:08 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I work for a community college and our resources are very limited. We don't have an online component to our programs. In part, our IT department says we don't have the server space to dedicate to a project like this and in part, we are just starting to develop programs that may be of interest to alumni.

Have any of you faced dollar/facility restrictions that you have overcome so that you can have an online alumni community?

Posted by: Kathrine | May 18, 2005 3:13:06 PM

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