I recently noticed that the Thunderbird School of Global Management (Arizona, USA) was generating steady, relevant interaction and growth in its LinkedIn Alumni Group and its Twitter feed. I asked Thunderbird's alumni relations coordinator Katie Mayer for insight into their approach. She and Samantha Novick (T-bird's PR & new media specialist) generously provided the following tips:
Driving Engagement on LinkedIn
1. Don't wait for alumni to join your LinkedIn Group: go get them. Use your alumni database to target alumni to join, en masse. "We invite 200 alumni per day to join," says Mayer.
2. Try to understand graduates' needs. Then actively fulfill those needs. "Form a relationship with your Group and put your members' needs first."
3. Listen closely, respond only when necessary, and be brief.
4. Find and share valuable content, and develop a distinctive online voice for doing so.
5. Run interference for your Group. Set up clear rules for online channels. Don't just post press releases, and don't let a small number of Group members dominate the discussion.
6. Don't censor."We prohibit profanity, personal attacks and hate speech." Anything else is potentially in play.
7. Once you've earned members' trust and attention, you will start to see returns, and can ask for gifts and involvement.
8. When a group trusts and likes its manager, it brings a return on your time investment. "They'll support you, defend you and become your allies in return for your commitment to them."
["Alumni will support you, defend you and become your allies
in return for your commitment to them."]
Driving Engagement with Twitter
9. Alumni expect immediate responses on Twitter.
10. Twitter puts you on people's radar frequently, so choose content carefully.
11. Retweet and favorite alumni followers' tweets regularly.
12. Build Twitter lists of alumni to help them find each other on Twitter.
13. If someone mentions T-bird by name, Thunderbird mentions them in return.
14. Diverse groups of stakeholders follow Thunderbird on Twitter. So "we diversify our content, and try to be inclusive."
15. "We're in the education business, so we regularly provide valuable educational content to followers."
16. Stay transparent and don't shy away from all controversy. "We post information even if we know it will generate negative comments."
Next Up: Real Life Examples
Next week, we'll learn about six real-world outcomes from online engagement at Thunderbird. And Katie and Samantha will share some difficulties and success stories from the online world.