How Can We Drive Alumni Engagement Via Digital ‘Water Cooler’ Moments?
This blog will be discussing the notion of digital water cooler moments, how they can drive Alumni Engagement and how we can harness them to our benefit.
At the most recent Global Leaders Summit, I had the privilege of hearing four world-class speakers present break-through ideas and. Each idea was driven by technology and social media, and impacted alumni relations, career services, or the advancement world in general.
You can watch the four talks in full below but first up this week is Adam Miller (minutes 1-6).
Adam Miller is the Director of Digital at Stanford Alumni Association and spoke about ‘Harnessing Digital Water Cooler Moments’.
A digital ‘water-cooler’ moment for a school would be when you become a topic of significant personal interest to many of your alumni. Adam quotes the example of the closure or renaming of an iconic building that sets off strong and vocal reactions digitally from alumni.
How should an education institution react when they are at the center of significant alumni interest. Do you bury or leverage the story?
What struck me about Adam’s talk is that he is absolutely right that these ‘water-cooler’ moments create massive alumni engagement and need to be leveraged and not feared.
The high alumni engagement levels shows that you are making your institution relevant in the daily lives of their alumni irrespective of whether all the comments are positive or not.
As Adam put it, it is like the voice of the alumni coming back to your institution.
Moreover, we should be thinking of this in more strategic terms. How can we create a strategy of producing these moments on the one hand, and yet on the other hand, being sufficiently nimble to react as they arise?
Part of the answer is a required cultural shift.
We need to stop being afraid of our alumni and let them be vocally engaged.
Controversy can indeed be good. Alumni engagement is always good as it means they feel ownership for your institution.
The more we allow our alumni to be involved in the direction of our institutions, the closer our relationship will become.
What do you believe is stopping your institution embracing these ‘water-cooler’ moments?
Do you have examples of your own Digital ‘Water-cooler’ moments that you can share? Why did they work?
I would welcome your thoughts.
For more information it would definitely also be worthwhile reading The Case for Mentoring.