I recently wrote an article entitled, “The Great Debate, Social Networks vs. Online Communities.” In it, I discussed the difference between social networks and private label communities, and which provide the best ROI in terms of alumni engagement. Beyond the differences mentioned in the article, there is another important consideration: who owns the data that these sites generate?
There are myriad reasons why it's important to own all of your alumni data:
- Data Privacy
- Data Accuracy
- Data Security
- Business Continuity
We'll cover these topics in depth in future posts, but this article focuses on the more intuitive and practical reasons to build your alumni community and database that you own on a platform that you control.
Facebook & LinkedIn Own Your Connections
If you’re operating a Facebook or LinkedIn group for your organization, and consider it a success, chances are you’ve got participation. But how does this participation impact your long term goals?
Let’s say you want to update your alumni address records. You could do that by connecting with every person who participates in your group and enter their email in your system. But did your organization get permission to take that data? If not, this practice could come back to haunt you with unsubscribes, and angry emails. Furthermore, when you leave the organization all those connections leave with you. Maybe you don't want the maintenance and noise of thousands of alumni connections.
Ensure Administrative Control of your Alumni Groups
Let’s take it one step further. Since LinkedIn and Facebook groups can be created by anyone, you may not even be the administrator for your organization's group. Let’s say a recent alumnus created a LinkedIn group for your college before you have established an official one. Without administrator privileges, you cannot regulate admission or comments, or curate the conversation. Many times, those that have created the group are less than willing to hand over the reins.
Build Your Brand, not Theirs
If LinkedIn as serving as your alumni database, LinkedIn is getting 100% of the branding benefit. It's a missed opportunity to build affinity.
Benefits of Private Alumni Networks
Private alumni networks change all this. Any activity that happens within your alumni community is owned by your organization and can be exported with admin permission for use by other stakeholders. Permissions are granted when alumni register, eliminating the need to scrape alumni data to update your records. There is never the need to regain control because the online community belongs to your organization.
With a community you control, you can ensure your message is coming across loud and clear. And anytime an alumnus visits your site, your college’s brand becomes stronger. Don’t give the social giants free advertising to your audience. Take back what’s yours.
Want to capitalize on alumni data? Schedule a call today to see what 360Alumni can do for you!