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Communities, Social Media & Alumni

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A Narrative View
CURRENTS Article Whether it's to honor loyal donors and volunteers, showcase alumni achievements, build trust and intimacy within your community, or tap into nostalgia, telling alumni stories can be a powerful way to engage and enlighten your graduates. But alumni stories don't have to just be profiles in the back of the university's magazine. They can take many shapes and serve different purposes.

Yep, This Is a Virtual Event
CURRENTS Article From class reunions to networking, more and more universities are getting savvy at hosting virtual events. Here's how eight institutions are doing it right.

There’s Something About Mary
CURRENTS Article More than 175 years after founding Massachusetts' Mount Holyoke College, Mary Lyon is everywhere. OK, it's not actually Lyon. It's a cutout image, part of a fundraising campaign called FebruMary in honor of Lyon's birth month.

Pass or Fail?
CURRENTS Article In response to a negative Facebook post, Jessica White, a 2007 U of M grad who serves on the Dean's Young Alumni Council, writes a blog post explaining that all alumni gifts matter.

Learning to Lose Control
CURRENTS Article As alumni and other audiences find new ways to connect, network, and give, our roles as the essential interfaces between our institutions and their various external audiences are becoming more unstable. To understand the problem, and to address this challenge proactively instead of reactively, we need to understand the concept of disintermediation: a reduction in the use of intermediaries.

All in the Hamily
CURRENTS Article This feature article looks at how Hamilton College developed its own moderated social media platform, The Scroll, which relies heavily on user-generated content to engage its audiences in authentic, lively, and uncensored conversations that represent and embolden the New York institution's brand.

The China Connection
CURRENTS Article This article explores how and why institutions are using Sina Weibo and other Chinese social media platforms to recruit prospective students and engage alumni.

Social Prospects
CURRENTS Article This brief article looks at how Cornell University is using the profile information its alumni provide in its social media communities to identify potential donors.

Odds and Ends: Online Life Is a Virtual Cafe
CURRENTS Article In this Q-and-A with Jonah Peretti, CEO of BuzzFeed, he discusses virality, social readers, and how people portray themselves on social media, and likens how people use social media and the Internet to time spent in a Paris cafe.

Odds and Ends: Click Here to Network
CURRENTS Article LinkedIn’s Christina Allen helps students, alumni, and alumni professionals connect

Tools of Engagement
CURRENTS Article How can alumni relations professionals remain relevant in a world where computers and technology do much of what they used to do on paper and via phone? The author offers advice on how embrace social media tools and use them to engage alumni.

Crème de la Crème
CURRENTS Article In 2011, 268 bronze, silver, gold, and grand gold Circle of Excellence awards went to 171 colleges, universities, independent schools, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. Eight of those grand gold and gold award winners are profiled here.

Prepare to Engage
CURRENTS Article This article discusses the importance of focusing on building community and creating a two-way social media conversation with your institution's constituents. Experts advise that institutions using social media should be less concerned with the tools they're using and more concerned with whether and how they're engaging their alumni, students, and other constituencies. In addition, rather than jumping into using several tools, it's more important to first use a tool well before moving on to add another tool. The article also discusses some of the findings from the 2011 CASE/mStoner/Slover Linett social media survey.

Opening Windows
CURRENTS Article Social media advisor Beth Kanter answers questions about free agents, fortresses, and other social media issues. Kanter works with many different nonprofits on better reaching their audiences and achieving their missions through social media.

Image Conscious
CURRENTS Article Three alumni relations professionals share their thoughts on managing their professional and personal social media lives. The first has one Facebook profile but is very cautious and hesitant about whom she friends and what she shares; the second also has one profile and does not see a problem with connecting with as many people as possible; and the third maintains two separate Facebook accounts, one for personal friends and the other for professional acquaintances.

Lance una red más amplia para su reunión
CURRENTS Article Hace algunos años, cuando Facebook comenzaba a saltar de un dormitorio a, bueno, todos los dormitorios, algunos líderes de exalumnos se preguntaron si la creciente popularidad de Facebook sería el fin de las reuniones. No pasaba un día sin que escuchara hablar sobre exalumnos que habían encontrado compañeros a los que les habían perdido la pista y estaban organizando reuniones a través de este medio.

Cast a Wider Net for Reunion
CURRENTS Article A few years ago, the mere mention of the word "Facebook" could cause anxiety among alumni relations professionals. They worried that alumni reconnecting with long-lost classmates on Facebook wouldn't attend reunions anymore. But the Facebook dust has cleared, and reunions have suffered surprisingly few injuries, if any at all. This article discusses how Facebook is helping rather than hindering reunion.

The Inner Circle
CURRENTS Article Is an institution’s own private social network relevant in this era of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? The answer is yes ... or no, depending on the institution.

Advance Work: Risky Behavior
CURRENTS Article GoCrossCampus, an online game created by five former and current Ivy Leaguers, is scoring big points for alumni relations.

Into the Mainstream
CURRENTS Article Six alumni professionals--all early adopters of online social networking--offer their thoughts on why alumni professionals need to just dive into the world of Facebook, LinkedIn, and their ilk.

Brave Net World
CURRENTS Article In June 2008, CASE surveyed alumni relations directors about their use of online social networking to engage and communicate with alumni. This article delves into the data garnered from this survey, including software, budget, staffing, best practices, and performance measurement.

Odds and Ends: What Does Surya Say?
CURRENTS Article In this Q&A, Surya Yalamanchili, director of marketing for LinkedIn, discusses his own social networking life, what's new at LinkedIn, and more.

Advance Work: Pokes and Tweets
CURRENTS Article What outside social networking sites are alumni relations professionals using to engage alumni?

Natural Attraction
CURRENTS Article What can alumni relations professionals learn from their corporate cousins?

Opponent or Opportunity?
CURRENTS Article The Caltech Alumni Association has found that the third-party site LinkedIn offers their alumni the best online community for the money. This is a sidebar to the feature "Everyone Into the Pool."

The Changing Face of the Online Community
CURRENTS Article Social and professional networking has moved online, and educational institutions are uniquely positioned to offer these services to their alumni. Find out how other nonprofits have built successful online communities.

Everyone Into the Pool
CURRENTS Article Online communities are not just a fad. Is yours up to par? Do you know what your alumni want? Find out how others have figured out what's best and how to keep it fresh.

Advance Work: The Pull of Peers
CURRENTS Article Web sites such as Facebook that organize social networks specific to individual colleges, universities, and schools are growing in popularity and might compete with an institution's own site for the attention of students and graduates. Some alumni relations officials believe alumni sites must grow more robust to survive; others take advantage of the commercial sites' popularity to communicate with their constituents.

AdvanceWork: A Sure Thing?
CURRENTS Article Independent Web sites that provide an online forum for alumni to share information are proliferating at a rate that may leave institution-sanctioned sites behind.,, and are just a handful of players in this market space. Online alumni service providers warn that alumni directors must keep pace, or risk damaging their relationships with alumni.

Tech Support: Meet You in Cyberspace
CURRENTS Article A specialist in virtual communities tells what he learned when he volunteered to develop an online alumni community for his alma mater, Reed College. The key lesson: Success hinges on planning. The author offers advice on choosing the right software and host, finding moderators and establishing their duties, determining who will be allowed to join, setting guidelines for online behavior, and promoting involvement.

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