Some of your alumni use MySpace. Some of your alumni use Facebook. Some of your alumni use both, but for different reasons - and the vast majority of them all watch videos that have been uploaded to YouTube. That said, if your alumni association wants to launch and integrate a successful social networking strategy with your Web 1.0 communications (website, e-newsletter, and "Donate Now" buttons), then your association needs an organizational presence on all of the Big Three.
MySpace is the third visited website in the United States only behind Google and Yahoo. YouTube is fourth and Facebook is fifth. You need to be where you alumni are organizing themselves en masse on the Internet during the era of Web 2.0. Social networking sites have changed the Internet as we know it and will be the building blocks of the next era of the Internet. The worst mistake your association can make in these early years of Web 2.0 is a narrow approach to social networking.
What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 is a trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to facilitate creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies (the practice of categorizing content through tags). Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use the internet.
Facebook is the most well-known social networking website in the higher education community because Facebook essentially evolved out of the Ivy League, but only having a presence on Facebook as a social networking strategy just isn't enough. While launching a Facebook Page (in contrast to a Facebook Group) is a good starting point, you won't maximize your results until your association also starts a MySpace profile and a channel on YouTube. This becomes even more obvious when one examines the issues of class, race, and pop culture and its impact on social networking. Recent studies have debunked the "dangers" of social networking sites, so education should really start taking some bold new steps into Web 2.0 - starting with the Big Three.
Here are the basics of a successful Web 2.0 marketing plan for you alumni association:
1. Start a MySpace profile > Search for your School on MySpace (schools.myspace.com) > Add it. After designing your MySpace profile to drive traffic to your website(s), send your alumni on MySpace "Friend Requests". Build and nurture your MySpace community!
2. Start a YouTube Channel, but sign up as a Director for premium branding options.
3. Start a Facebook Page > Go to Local > Education.
4. Get a social networking student worker or intern to "work" these communities 10 hours a week [and make a mental note that in the next year or two you might be hiring a New Media Manager fulltime].
If you are not familiar with these sites, please take my Web 2.0 Webinar for Higher Education. If you don't set-up, design and manage these profiles correctly, then you have lost 90% of your potential ROI [Return on Investment]. This is particularly true in the case of MySpace. That site is vast, more complicated than Facebook, but in terms of increasing traffic to your website(s) and getting new e-mail newsletter subscribers, the ROI on MySpace is enormous - if you know how to use it.
Finally, remember that building community comes before marketing on the Big Three. Your alumni want to be inspired and entertained, and they want authenticity. If you can find that tone and master that approach, the ROI in terms of marketing follows naturally. Once you have the Big Three covered, then experiment with some of the others like Twitter, Digg, and Flickr. And don't forget - have fun! Web 2.0 is supposed to fun, not scary. Fear has been the biggest factor in education's slow adaption of Web 2.0 (in comparison to the nonprofit sector and business), but now is the time to embrace and move on and up!
DIOSA | Communications
DIOSA | Communications specializes in Web 2.0 Marketing, Web 2.0 Trainings, Webinars, and MySpace Design for nonprofit organizations, higher education, and small businesses.