Over the past decade or two, career-based networks like LinkedIn have dominated the digital career space, but their relevance has been limited by their sheer size. Few industries are completely globalized, so sometimes, smaller is better. Alumni networks can build localized relevance into their offerings, but until now, they haven’t had a dedicated online “Facebook” of their own. That’s rapidly changing as online startups launch and digital tools are developed. Cyberspace is altering the very fabric of alumni networks in five ways.
The bigger an alumni network grows, the more it costs to manage. Paid online community platforms can earn funds to support their web design, messaging, and other tasks. Educational institutions have had alumni networks for as long as they’ve existed, with the power to build business communities, arrange reunions, and demonstrate what universities can achieve for their students. Today, those networks are improving their fundraising potential through online portals.
Millennial alumni often plan their social life around social media. If alumni networks are going to keep up, they’ll need to find new ways to engage online, and many are doing exactly that. Some universities are building their own online presence via custom websites and existing social networks. Others are using service providers like Hivebright to connect recruits.
-3) Big Data
With engagement requirements being as stringent as they are, no network can get ahead without analytics that can guide them to ever-higher levels of engagement. The best alumni network software gathers information on post engagement, membership, and other important actions so that users can get to know the kind of content that captivates their audiences the most.
-4) Easy Filtering
Today’s typical alumni doesn’t have much room for meaningless online noise, so filters are a critical part of any network. With a custom branded app, no institution needs to reinvent the wheel. Schools are using the best in premium technology at a rock bottom price thanks to the many applications on the market today that can be easily branded to present the right aesthetic. This way, every user can easily create their own filters and see only the content they want to see. That means impressive improvements in engagement.
-5) No More Emails
In the past, you might have received snail mail or emails soliciting donations for your alumni network. No network can be its best without funds, but it’s difficult to get donations if you’re not adding value to your users’ lives. A more social online portal brings that value to every student by allowing people to engage with one another in any relevant way. Cold calls and nagging alumni relations officers have been replaced with blogs and social networks that all members can use equally. Every active member is a potential content stream, and content is one of the internet’s greatest assets. A more sociable platform allows schools to leverage that content free of charge, drawing the attention of donors without the need for a cold calling model.
School is about more than just an education. Alumni networks give ex-students a way to stay in touch and continue learning from fellow alumni. The support networks that result are invaluable, not just for the alumni they attract, but for schools as well.