Campus News

November 15, 2010

Report From: Emory Alumni Association

Engaging alumni with social media

Eric Rangus is the director of communications for the Emory Alumni Association

"Alumni are blanketing Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites." So sayeth many alumni relations professionals who do not work at Emory. "All we have to do is build a Facebook page and a Twitter feed and they'll jump all over it."

Not exactly.

Poorly constructed or infrequently updated social media sites can be very lonely corners of the web. Truly engaging alumni — the vast majority of whom have limited time to devote to organizations and little patience for organizations that waste it — requires thoughtful, strategic and creative work.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are no doubt excellent platforms for disseminating information. They are also meant to be fun for users and for the creators, too. At least that's the way the Emory Alumni Association (EAA) approaches its social media efforts.

A couple of months a writer from the well-known online source, mStoner blog, contacted the EAA about social media, and I was fortunate to sit down with the rest of our social media leaders, co-workers Stacey Gall, assistant director for technology and information management, and Cassie Young '07C, coordinator for alumni and student programs, for a discussion.

"We think [social media] should be a part of everyone's job, just like the telephone or e-mail," Gall said. While not every EAA staff member is writing a daily blog, they contribute to the organization's processes in other ways.

Sometimes staff post events on their own Facebook pages (more than 75 percent of the EAA staff has personal Facebook pages), or they encourage alumni to do the same.

Staff members may ask a volunteer to take photos at event in Houston. Then those pictures end up on the EAA's SmugMug photo site.

We also think that social media should be fun, and that personal, informal touch is key to the EAA's online voice.

Beyond tone, another advanced step in the EAA's social media efforts is the integration. Making EAA's various social media platforms — mwork together is what really counts.

Content is shared from one site to another. These platforms include our CASE Award-winning blog, EAAvesdropping, LinkedIn page, Facebook fan page, alumni-run Facebook groups, Twitter feed.

Mass e-mails promote social networks, encouraging alumni to get the entire story. External integration extends the reach of the EAA, too.

For example, alumni events and the EAAvesdropping blog were recently added to Emory's new mobile app.

The coordination of all these efforts is designed to lead to a better engaged, informed and entertained Emory alumni community.

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