Imagine you are an alum who logs into their school alumni networking platform for the very first time.
Within milliseconds, the alum realizes that it is a dead alumni network. There is no alumni networking going on here. A ghost-town. Clearly no one has visited the site for a long time and there seems to be zero activity going on.
The alum will reach two obvious conclusions.
Firstly – there is no point contributing any content to the network (posting comments, jobs, photos etc.) as the network is dead.
Secondly – there is no point ever revisiting this network again.
I have given a name to this phenomenon for alumni networking – the ”Law of Dead Networks”.
If your first impression as a user of your alumni network is that it is dead, then no surprises, the network will eventually become dead with zero activity.
What matters here is not the reality of whether it is actually engaged or not, but critically the first impression of that user.
The good news is that the Law of Dead Networks also works in reverse for alumni networking.
If you can provide users with an initial first impression of a dynamic, engaged and active network, then this will become self-fulfilling.
The Law of Dead Networks is simple – the impression of low activity leads to low activity, while the impression of high activity leads to high activity.
Alumni engagement leads to alumni engagement.
Engaged alumni leads to engaged alumni.
Therefore the challenge for all education institutions is how to provide a world class user experience to ensure the Law of Dead Networks works for, and not against, your school.
Schools need to start thinking seriously about the UI, UX and design of their on-line platforms if they are serious about engaging alumni.
I would welcome your thoughts.