Building robust online communities isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. Santa Clara's recent engagement campaign is a prime example of one effective way to do this work.
Santa Clara's Switchboard first anniversary coincided with the start of their academic year. They wanted to connect with the broader community around the start of the new academic year, and they had the idea to showcase their Switchboard's first-year milestones as a means of generating buzz and providing proof that their Switchboard was worth the community's time and attention.
When Santa Clara started their Switchboard last year, their alumni relations office decided to make it one of their top five priorities for the year ahead. The message to their community at the start of this year academic would serve both as a celebration of the progress they’d made in that time (e.g. over 1,000 users adopted in just six months), and as a way to enlist more people to join.
Along with a clear, tailored call-to-action, Santa Clara created a compelling infographic that distilled a year's worth of engagement, support, and connection and sent the email out to 3 different groups in the community: folks already on the Switchboard, folks not on the Switchboard yet, and staff and faculty on campus.
In the span of about two weeks, the Santa Clara Switchboard saw over a 35% increase in users, over 100 new connections made, and over 65 new asks and offers. Their message struck a chord with the community, and the community responded resoundingly, injecting new momentum into a Switchboard that was already moving steadily along.
Communities are composed of folks who have the foresight to see the value in something nascent, folks who need proof of the value of something before they participate, and folks who will never understand it or care to participate. When we have the job of convincing the first two groups to try our great new thing, even the simplest campaigns can generate meaningful momentum.