I was only there for one day and only sat in on a couple of sessions. But I met some great people, made some new Twitter connections and, during my short stay for a few sessions, picked up some good tidbits to pass along.
1. Tuesday Trivia. One of the morning sessions of opening day was a lightning round of sorts called “5 Ideas for Doing More with Less.” In that session, five iModules clients each had roughly five minutes to talk about something they’re doing to build engagement with their alumni. One of my favorites from that session was the “Tuesday Trivia” concept. Dana Howard (@DanaMSUAlum) of the Murray State University Alumni Association discussed how the association’s Tuesday Trivia game leverages social media to engage alumni and gather their contact information. Here’s now it works: Every Tuesday during the academic year, the alumni association posts a trivia question about Murray State on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (here’s a sample question), directing followers to submit their answers to an online form where the association also captures email addresses for their database. It’s a fun and simple, but not trivial, way to connect with alumni while collecting contact information.
2. Repurposing social media content. Also during that “More with Less” session, Doug Smith (@idougsmith) of the East Carolina Alumni Association presented a quick rundown of how that association integrates social media content on the PirateAlumni.com website. One tool they use for publishing photos on their site is PictoBrowser, a free web application that displays Flickr or Picasa photos on websites. I’ve made a note to check out PictoBrowser to see if we might be able to apply it somehow with our photos.
3. Archiving email newsletters to maximize readership seems like a no-brainer, but I bet a lot of alumni associations aren’t doing that. During another “More with Less” session, Tracy Stolz of Gannon University’s alumni association talked about how her office uses the archives to not only expand readership, but also to preserve history and make the content more accessible.
4. Split testing for email marketing. Sue Henry of Adelaide University in Australia presented an informative session cleverly titled “Email Marketing: From Woe to Go.” This past spring, Adelaide tested two versions of an email to determine what impact subject line length, design and number of links might have on encouraging college seniors to join the alumni association. What she ultimately discovered through this test, however, was an unexpected outcome: that the timing of both emails was off. Compared to a previous email campaign (in October 2009, closer to graduation time for that class of seniors), both test emails from May 2010 had significantly lower open rates (13 percent and 11 percent, compared to 28 percent in October 2009). The reason? Henry and her colleagues determined that the message timing was not close enough to graduation, which was seven months away at the time of the May 2010 email.
Friday Five bonus link. More a shameless plug than a takeaway, but here’s the link to my presentation at the end of day 1.
Have a good weekend.