Shortcomings of Social Media when Tracking & Engaging Alumni

At first glance, social media is an extremely attractive tool in 2017. The average person spends about 2 hours a day on social media – an impressive amount of time that seems to be increasing year on year [1]. So, of course you should be interested in what your alumni are doing on social media. What better way to learn more about them, right?

Not necessarily.

We recently had a customer from a prestigious institution share that their department didn’t want to get too involved with social media. In fact, they had been looking for a more efficient way to obtain hard-to-capture alumni data because they knew that social media didn’t reliably reflect valuable data like post-graduate degrees or board memberships.

LiveAlumni was able to help them obtain this data, but it got us thinking… Why is there hesitation to get involved with social media? It seems there are two major weaknesses.

1. It’s Time-Consuming

Many sources claim that an advantage of using social media is immediate results. For example, content is posted on a platform to elicit a response from alumni interested in a certain topic and the ‘immediate’ results begin to roll in; those who liked the post, those who shared it and those who actually commented.

However, that’s not actually the case in the real world. The word immediate implies instant results – but do all the ‘likes’, ‘shares’, and ‘comments’ really come up instantly? Or is it a process? Checking, waiting for results, and quantifying them in a meaningful way. Not to mention the time it takes to create content for different social media streams.

Immediately would be, ‘this information is already in my possession.’ Just search and it appears. This is unfortunately not what social media actually gives you.

2. There are Holes in the Data

Now, let’s talk about the responses from alumni on social media. Let’s say that some alumni interact with your post and a handful of alumni actually comment with interest, while a few more share the post. Whilst these are some valuable responses, are they really complete?

According to Ed Sullivan, a social media-marketing expert, you could be missing quite a lot. Ed shares that many people on social media are ‘lurkers’, or people who don’t get involved and instead just read and observe. [2] That means while you may be receiving results, you are still missing out on the vast majority of alumni that are interested in this topic. Your alumni may have looked at it and perhaps even found it intriguing but they didn’t actually interact with your post. [3]

What’s the Alternative?

Having talked about these two major weaknesses of social media, let’s imagine what would happen if those weaknesses didn’t exist. What if it wasn’t time-consuming and what if the data didn’t have holes?

Alumni have self-reported a plethora of information about themselves online and the platform of choice tends to be LinkedIn. Data including their interests, where they currently live and work, what they are involved in and what is important to them – many individuals have chosen to make all this public.

Reach out to us at LiveAlumni to learn more about you can utilizing this data.

 


Sources

[1] How Much Time to People Spend on Social Media?, SocialMediaToday.com

[2] The Strengths and Limitations of Social Media Listening: A Q&A with Sailthru’s Ed Sullivan, VisionCritical.com

[3] The Pros & Cons of Social Listening Tools, Likeable.com

 

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