Engagement ideas

Throughout the year there will be periods of time that carry a special spirit, and that usually aligns with the spirit and mission of Switchboard.  These are the perfect times to leverage your Switchboard to essentially work in tandem with the spirit of the season towards generating more positive momentum on your Switchboard.

There are many times throughout the year when this can happen, and below are outlines of ideas that can engage your community in an assortment of ways.

 

Thanksgiving/december holiday campaign

Purpose:

Generate positive momentum on your SB through planned prompts and strategic outreach to existing and potential users that can build in proceeding months.

Action Items:

1.  Week 1

    a.  send out email to target groups (e.g. '14 alumni or '12-'14 alumni) with language around introducing the SB, but also a prompt that gives readers a small task to think about what they are thankful for from their college experience and turning that into an ask or offer to put on the SB to pay it forward.  

    b.  Put postcards with SB URL stamped on them in current student mailboxes and any alumni mailing(s) that are going out 

    c.  Announce "giving thanks" request on social media (even putting an ask on your SB)

    d.  Talk with any other departments that may want to partner up to discuss how to do so before doing anything listed above.

2.  Week 2 

    a.  Hold special tabling session(s) (special in that the conversation wouldn't just be about introducing people to SB and having them sign up/post, but potentially bringing idea of turning what people are thankful for into an ask/offer and doing that with people that are at the table).

    b.  Highlighting great posts/success stories on social media (as well as tabling sessions) 

3.  Week 3 (11-16-15 to 11-20-15)

    a.  Similar to Week 2, but this could be also be a place to invite more folks from a broader range of class years to sign up.  Since there would be more activity on your SB, this could yield more users signing up and engaging with your SB.

4.  Week 4 (11-23-15 to 11-26-15)

    a.  Highlight activity from past weeks in email newsletter to advertise your SB to more potential users

 

Graduation campaign

Purpose:

Create new lasting value for graduating seniors as they become alumni, as well as engage broader alumni community in supporting graduating seniors.  

Action Items:

1.  Ahead of graduation (e.g. 3 months before), prompt current graduating seniors using your switchboard to think about posting something around their transition into the world.  This can be done using the "Campaigns" feature.  

2.  Prompt alumni at the same time as current graduating seniors above to be on the lookout for posts from graduating seniors around transitioning.  This can also be done using the "Campaigns" feature.  

    a.  The prompt could also be more focused.  For example, the prompt to alumni could encourage them to post an offer about housing graduating seniors if they are in an area where graduating seniors might be moving to.

3.  Hold a special event that lasts for a day (or a few days) where any new post will get a reply from someone that may be able to help with that post.  An excellent way to nudge hesitant folks to post, as well as encourage posting clearly demonstrates the tone and purpose of your switchboard.

 

SPRING BREAK CAMPAIGN

Purpose:

Encourage posting centered around advice and life-after-graduation preparations for students from alumni to not only engage alumni, but provide new options to pursue for students during their Spring Break. 

Actions Items:

1.  Send targeted messages to various parts of the community on specific days.  Having the first message go out a few weeks before Spring Break occurs allows for alumni to have time to post offers, as well as provides time for students to make contact and make necessary arrangements.

2.  Diversify messaging by utilizing email, the campaigns feature in your Switchboard, existing social media (e.g. Facebook and LinkedIn), and in-person opportunities to promote the campaign.

3.  Provide particular topics for posting and action items in all messaging.  For example, the first message to alumni encouraging them to participate in the campaign and post around particular topics could sound like, "Give back to help students make the most of their Spring Break by posting an offer for: 1) a job shadow; 2) an informational interview; 3) a coffee meet-up."

 

Ask Me Anything (AMA) Campaign

Purpose:

Stimulate high-value posting that creates meaningful activity in the present and information that is valuable for future use by the community.

Action Items:

1.  This campaign was done very well by Oberlin College, and the main organizer of the campaign wrote a detailed blog post about the genesis of the idea, planning and implementing the idea, and the results from the campaign.  Here is the link to that post.

 

"May Day" Campaign

Purpose:

Inject a significant amount of momentum very quickly around commencement to encourage communication and connection between graduating seniors and alumni (could easily be adapted to include other class years as well).

Action Items:

1.  This campaign was created by Oberlin College, for which it won a CASE Gold Award, and the steps they took to put the plan into practice is described here in a detailed blog post that touches on planning, implementation, the results, and the takeaways from the campaign.

 

Back-to-School campaign

Purpose:

Inspire activity that encourages students to use your Switchboard to begin thinking about upcoming breaks and summer preparations, but also encourages alumni to post offers for juniors/seniors based on what they wished they had or wished they had done at the beginning of the new year.  This campaign is also a great way to collaborate with multiple offices to support their efforts for the new year.  

Action Items:

1.  First send a message to your alumni with the "What I wish I had or wish I had done" call-to-action to populate the Switchboard with fresh offers around this topic.

2.  Once posts from alumni begin to come in, promote the campaign to students through trusted channels (e.g. email blast, having RAs talk about it, tabling, the Switchboard Campaigns feature, etc.).  If students don't find something that resonates with them from the offers, encourage them to post an ask.

3.  Be sure to cross-post activity onto your other social media to ensure that you cast as wide of a net as possible.  The more people that see the message and can be shepherded to your Switchboard to participate, the better.

 

“Ask and ye shall receive… advice”

Purpose:

Spark an influx of asks from students and young alumni to stir up members in the community that can offer something useful but have been reluctant to actively participate since joining.

Action Items:

1.  Prepare a call-to-action (CTA) soliciting asks.  The CTA could be centered around travel, academic, summer, professional, networking, new city advice, etc.; this would be an opportunity to study your switchboard to see if the CTA should focus on something you need more of or focus on something that is relevant for the time period.  Develop another CTA that prompts alumni to respond to student asks that start the bread crumb trail, for example.

2.  Determine when students/young alumni will receive the CTA to post asks, determine when to reach out to alumni to tell them of asks and to respond to them, and determine how long to run this event (e.g. will it last a week?  Two weeks?).

3.  Prepare communications to be placed in social media, your switchboard’s campaigns tool, and emails for both recruiting reliable alumni and soliciting asks (from alumni and students).

4.  Send communications to students/young alumni to get them to start posting, followed by sending communications to alumni to have them respond to current asks (and past asks).

 

Valentine's Day Campaign

Purpose:

Stimulate activity during a time that is generally well-known and popular that is rooted in “sharing the love” and builds momentum for other events in upcoming months.

Action Items:

1.  Prompt alumni and students to “share the love” via email and social media through posting offers around meeting up for coffee, advice for the summer, or hosting for students traveling for Spring Break or the summer.

2.  Also prompt alumni and students to go through the switchboard and comment on posts with no comments to “share the love.”

 

"Find your new colleague or replacement"

Purpose:

Offers around finding a replacement and job offerings with alumni’s employers are a strong way to provide continual value for your community.  Branding your switchboard as a place for this will provide a pipeline of high-value offers that always support connections around one area that is very meaningful for the community.

Action Items:

1.  Collect at least 5 offers of alumni posting a job offer at their company (a mix of just a job offer and the alum saying they are moving on and looking for a replacement).  Also consider offers where an alum is posting on behalf of a friend that isn’t an alum and is willing to connect users to that friend.

2.  Set dates throughout the year where you use email (one-offs, newsletters, etc.) and social media to communicate to the community to use switchboard for this.  We recommend at least twice a month as a starter.

3.  Craft your CTA that will be the backbone of your email/social media communications.  Something as simple as “Looking for your replacement?  Is your company hiring?  Post that offer on switchboard.” with each sentence hyperlinked to a high-value post that relates can be powerful.

4.  Begin sending out messages ASAP in various channels (email, social media, etc.).

 

War Room

Purpose:

Bring a group of users together (e.g. alumni and some staff, a handful of staff from various offices) for 30-60 minutes (or however long you want) to interact with posts that haven’t had any public activity.  This increases interdepartmental collaboration and exposure to value of switchboard across offices (assisting in bringing in new stakeholders that can be helpful members of the community), and also provides useful traction to posts that appear to have not had any.

Action Items:

1.  Find a date and location to convene participants.

2.  Use the “Show me quiet posts” advanced filter to pull up posts with no public activity.

3.  Have each participant respond to at least 5 posts to give them traction, regardless of how old the post is.

 

"What did you do after graduation?"

Purpose:

Provide an outlet for alumni to share snippets of a formative time in their lives in the form of offers that can be useful for young alumni and just-graduated seniors looking to get their footing in the world.

Action Items:

1.  Craft a call-to-action around alumni sharing a little of what they did right after graduation as an offer to new alumni and upperclassmen (and all students, really).  Be sure to include a post or two in the message that is already from the switchboard or new “seed” content from a few alumni that can serve as models.

2.  Determine how many alumni you want to message.  I would recommend the entire alumni community.

3.  Use social media and email for communications.

 

Coffee and Conversation

Purpose:

Showcase the more casual nature of switchboard by encouraging alumni to post offers to have coffee and conversation wherever they are located, as well as demonstrate the warmth and friendliness of the alumni community.

Action Items:

1.  Decide in which channels to send communications.  A newsletter, an email blast, and social media are low hanging fruit.

2.  Have a user (or a few) post offers that can be used as exemplars in communications.  Here is an example of one that could be an exemplar.

3.  Craft a simple call-to-action that encourages alumni to post these offers and use a similar title for their post.  A title like, “Coffee and conversation in [city, state]” is easy and would make tracking the activity easier.

 

"End of semester plans?"

Purpose:

Place focus on adopting and engaging underclassmen to diversify and bolster current student representation and solicit actionable asks that alumni are always eager to interact with.

Action Items:

1.  Think about where the message to students will come from.  Your office?  Career Services?  Students Affairs?  Students on campus?

2.  Craft a call-to-action (CTA) that encourages students to post asks that center on getting ideas for, solidifying, or gaining traction for plans between semesters/quarters/terms.  Something like, “With the term ending soon, how are you spending your break?  Post an ask on switchboard to connect with alumni who want to help.” is a start for the CTA.

3.  Communicate with students through multiple channels to cast a wide net (email, social media, in-person presentations, etc.).  Send messages over the course of a few weeks.

 

Giving Tuesday Campaign

Purpose:

While the main purpose is to solicit financial donations, this holds potential to inspire the community to give their time and talent if they cannot give treasure.

Action Items:

1.  Find donors that are willing to contribute more to their gifts if certain activity is accomplished on the switchboard and determined what amount of posting is needed to warrant a larger financial gift (e.g. 10 new users = $100 and $50/offer).

2.  Create communications that some alumni have stepped up to donate extra money based on activity on the switchboard during Giving Tuesday.  Have those communications go out through social media, email, and any preceeding newsletters (if possible).

3.  Send communications out with Giving Tuesday communications.

 

Annual Fund matching push

Purpose:

Provide a new way for alumni who offer to do financial matches to inspire action worthy of matching, while simultaneously giving the community the ability to affect the match through posting helpful content.

Action Items:

1.  Connect with the Annual Fund officers/office to identify alumni that might be willing to participate.

2.  Determine with willing candidates if they would want their gift to be determined on a per post basis (e.g. $50 for every offer from alumni) or determined by reaching a certain number of offers/comments.

3.  Create promotional materials, such as emails, postcards, etc. that will be sent to alumni explaining campaign, as well as a call to action that is relevant for the time of year (e.g. offering shadowing opportunities or connecting folks with your network over the holidays).

 

Reunion Campaign

Purpose:

Switchboard can be seen as a perpetual reunion, and this campaign is a way to invite alumni who couldn’t attend to reconnect with others from the community through switchboard activity.

Action Items:

1.  A week or two after reunion is over, send an email to alumni who didn’t attend the reunion (and post on social media).  Include in the message a call-to-action (CTA) around interacting with current posts on the switchboard from young alumni, offering to meet up for coffee, offering advice on making the most of college, etc.  The CTA can be around many things, but the idea is to root the message in the spirit of what makes reunions valuable.

 

"What can you teach?"

Purpose:

Interact with a large swath of students quickly around an engaging topic that is really interesting and translates well into high-value offers.  This question can also be posed to alumni to solicit the same type of high-value responses that translate into excellent, unique offers.  Oberlin made an interesting video about this as a way to position their switchboard early on to their alumni and students.

Action Items:

1.  Determine when to connect with students when they return to campus and who will connect with them.  Be sure to have this person (these people) bring a laptop/device so they can immediately sign people up and encourage those students to post their answers as offers.

2.  After collecting student replies, send an email out (and social media message) to alumni asking them the same question.  Be sure to include some examples of what students were offering as models of what they could potentially post.

3.  An interesting twist to this if you’d like to also solicit asks is “What do you want to learn?”  This question could be posed to both alumni and students using the same method described earlier.

 

"Wrapping up an internship?"

Purpose:

To generate not only offers from currents students around internships they had that would be of interest to fellow students (as well as connections at the place where they interned), but to expose current students to thinking about offers for the community, which prepares them for be helpful members of the community on switchboard as alumni.  All of this content also becomes a valuable entry point for current students to the switchboard, since many students are always searching for internships.

Action Items:

1.  Identify students that have already completed internships that could serve as seeders for this series of posting.  This is a great opportunity to connect with your Career Services office to identify these students.  Have these students post the first offers in the series.

2.  Use the seeder posts as exemplars for communications to the student body.  A simple email and social media posts will be great.  Also have student-facing staff guide students to switchboard in-person if they hear about their internships.

3.  Consider sending a similar message to parents, as many of them may have something to offer themselves (and they can’t use other campus tools to post the offer), might know what their child did and can encourage them to put it on the switchboard, or know of something that would be valuable.

 

"What did you do after graduation?"

Purpose:

Provide an outlet for alumni to share snippets of a formative time in their lives in the form of offers that can be useful for young alumni and just-graduated seniors looking to get their footing in the world.

Action Items:

1.  Craft a call-to-action around alumni sharing a little of what they did right after graduation as an offer to new alumni and upperclassmen (and all students, really).  Be sure to include a post or two in the message that is already from the switchboard or new “seed” content from a few alumni that can serve as models.

2.  Determine how many alumni you want to message.  I would recommend the entire alumni community.

3.  Use social media and email for communications.