@WorkingOrange – How to Manage a Higher Ed Twitter Account

@WorkingOrangeProfilePicIt’s an age-old (in social media time) and still relevant question – “what do we tweet?” The easy answer is, “something that’s useful, valuable, and fun for your audience.” For a specific example of a Twitter account that covers those three things and more, check out Syracuse University’s @WorkingOrange. The @WorkingOrange Twitter account is run by Syracuse’s Career Services department and is awesome, because…

First, it provides valuable information about a hot topic, especially for younger grads. Those of us who work in higher ed know there’s a lot more to a four-year degree than simply landing a job. That said, it is a big reason why many people attend college. Which means, finding a good and rewarding job is part of the “product” that colleges and universities offer. And successful brands provide adequate stellar customer service around their products. In large part, that’s what this Twitter account amounts to for Syracuse grads – a customer service channel to help fullfil that promise of meaningful work following graduation.

Two, it is highly engaging and interactive – lots of retweets and mentions. It might seem trivial to some, but to your most active and influential social media followers it is not – validation matters online.

When you think about it, we all like to be validated. Some of us at work, others by our families, others still by our friends and social circles. For those of us who spend a lot of time conversing on social networks, we also seek validation in our social media communities. @WorkingOrange provides that validation by truly communicating with the account’s followers. That activity matters, because it builds and strengthens relationships with supporters, which increases the likelihood of them becoming life-long supporters.

Three, it has personality! Most successful Twitter accounts have personality. Just have a look at the following tweets…

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Some Twitter accounts – @DeptofDefense, for example – need to be a bit more serious, most of the time. (Although even the Department of Defense can find appropriate ways of having fun on Twitter) But for the majority, it’s important to fit the attitude and style of the social network. For Twitter, that’s (hopefully) quick-witted, courteous, upbeat, useful, and timely. @WorkingOrange is all of those things and more.

Wanna talk more about social media for higher ed? Contact BWF’s Director of Interactive Communication Justin Ware by clicking here.

I Love UD – Another Online Ambassador Campaign Nets Million Dollar Results

ILoveUDHomepageBannerAnother online ambassador program has resulted in a 7-figure-plus fundraising campaign for a higher education institution. This time, it’s the University of Dayton and their I Love UD campaign. In addition to the spectacular fundraising haul and large number of new donors acquired (27 percent of the 3,016 donors were making their first ever gift to Dayton), this online campaign had a strong focus on donor retention. Chad Warren, the brains behind Florida State’s inaugural Great Give goes into detail about I Love UD’s donor retention plan …a plan that was built into the campaign. For specific tips on retaining new donors during online campaigns, start watching at about the 3-minute mark in the video below. Or, watch the whole thing to learn more about just how awesome the first I Love UD campaign was…

To learn more about building online ambassador programs that lead to successful fundraising campaigns, contact BWF’s Director of Interactive Communication Justin Ware, by clicking here.

Oberlin College’s Alumni Relations Viral Video Hit

Nostalgia. It’s a powerful emotion and one that can be an enormous asset for alumni and donor relations professionals. If you can harness or create nostalgia in the content you share from your accounts, your supporters will connect with your institution, which is a major step towards having them connect with your fundraising mission.

To know how to create nostalgia that can transport an alum from a glum office cubicle to memories of a beautiful fall afternoon on campus, requires knowing who your supporters are and why they might feel connected to your institution. To do this, Oberlin College in Ohio hired a former student to manage their media production. The result is the following video that has been viewed (so far) nearly 20,000 times (that’s more than six times the total number of students enrolled at Oberlin) and has led to the College receiving piles of mail from alumni who are grateful for the opportunity to be transported back to the memories of their glory days on a beautiful midwestern campus.

Why did this video become a viral success and an effective form of donor outreach? Because Oberlin tasked the creation of an important piece of content – the year-end mailing – to an alum who knows the College and what makes it special. Daniel Schloss, Director of Media Production at Oberlin, understands the reasons why students choose to attend the College and why alumni like himself appreciate the place many years after their education is complete. Having social media managers in place who have an intimate knowledge of your nonprofit organization is essential. It can be innate or learned (being an alumnus, for example, isn’t required …although it does help in higher education), but either way you want the people in charge of creating and sharing content to be focused on your organization. Like any form of stewardship, you’re trying to build relationships and to do so, requires someone who has a relationship with the organization themselves. Oberlin understands this and as a result, now has a powerful YouTube channel helping connect alumni with the College.

For more on developing a social media strategy to boost fundraising, visit BWF.com.

How Social Media Can Help Alumni Relations

Social media and nonprofit work are a pretty good fit. It’s often said that “fundraising is about relationships” and so is social media. Boom. Perfect match.

But why? What about social media makes it the Joanne Woodward to the nonprofit world’s Paul Newman?  More importantly, how do you use social media to advance your organization’s goals? There may be no better example of this match made in heaven, than how social media can be integrated into stewardship. To illustrate what is possible when social media meets good donor stewardship, let’s first read this brief story from Jeffrey Schoenherr, Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Harvard Law School, on what he points to as a recent example of good stewardship during a rough economy. (Taken from this May 2009 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education)

A colleague traveled to New York City to visit a donor who had recently lost his job in the financial industry. As a follow-up to their visit, my colleague contacted several other alumni in the industry and asked if they would be willing to talk with this alumnus about career opportunities and offer advice. My colleague also sent the donor information about alumni gatherings in the city so he could attend and build his network. That assistance has led the donor to tell my colleague that when he finds his next position, he won’t forget about how his alma mater helped. Who knows, maybe we just helped to put him on the fast track with a company.

How might we apply social media to that story to make the effort even more effective?

LinkedIn: We’ll start with the obvious. LinkedIn is about making professional connections and not much else (generally speaking). The colleague working in alumni relations could start with a simple search identifying fellow alumni who are in a related field to the displaced worker. Next, they could search the companies where those fellow alumni are employed (via LinkedIn and other resources, such as company websites) to see if there are any current openings. When an alumnus is found with an opening at their shop, reach out and make the e-introduction between them and the displaced alum. It’s nothing more than good old fashioned networking with a technological twist. And it could make all the difference for that displaced alumnus, which would, in turn, reinforce their support for the institution they’ve already given to.

Twitter: Have you ever heard the phrase “Tweet up”? It’s a meeting of Twitter friends IRL (that’s “In Real Life”) who share common interests and/or professional pursuits. In a city as diverse as New York, you can probably find a different “Tweet Up” taking place practically every hour. What are the displaced alum’s interests beyond work? Is there a volunteer mission they feel strongly about? A hobby that might connect them with others? If the displaced alum is already on Twitter, connect them with a group(s) of people who might – either directly or indirectly – help them land their next job. If they’re not on Twitter (or any social media), read the next and final tip…

Teach them to use social media: Michigan State University’s Alumni Association does a lot of nice work using social media. One great example of that work are the social media training sessions they conduct for alumni. Not only are they providing alumni a valuable resource in teaching them the basics about social media, but they’re introducing them to the tools through their own networks. It’s a great way to instantly grow your base of social media fans and followers who, thanks to the workshop, will find value in their institution through a social media connection. Especially if they’re able to use the tools and techniques learned during the workshop to advance their careers. If that’s the case, then one of those well-attended workshops could accomplish what could otherwise take months or years through basic, social media conversation management.

Some fundraising pros equate good donor stewardship with quality customer service. The above examples offer tips for how to use social media to provide the best customer service experience possible for your donors at all levels.

Like what you’re reading? Find more info on new media and philanthropy at BWF.com.

Social Media Increases Alumni Engagement more than 400%

The Thunderbird School of Global Management enjoyed a 400 percent increase in the number of donors – many of them alumni – to its annual end-of-fiscal-year campaign 2010. Everything they did that year was the same, with one exception – Thunderbird had a small team of social media managers creating and monitoring conversations with the school’s supporters for about a year leading up to the campaign.

“Alumni relations is about forming relationships,” said Thunderbird Alumni Relations Coordinator Katie Mayer. It is, and as her work proves, forming relationships via social media translates into more support for your organization. More in the video below…

For more news and information on philanthropy, visit bwf.com.